Monday, December 6, 2010

When is a loss a loss?

There's big drama going on over on my grief and loss message boards.  The grief and loss boards are for people who are dealing with pregnancy losses, and some of the stories are ridiculously traumatic.  They're also ridiculously inspirational.  One woman found out when her daughter was at 18 weeks that she had a condition that was incompatible with life.  She decided to carry to term, to give the baby a fighting chance.  The baby died in utero the day before she was due.  There are tons of stories like that - really gut-wrenching stories of people trying so desperately to have a child, and dealing with their own personal losses.  I can't deal with it that much, to be honest.  There's just too much grief, so many new hearts broken every day.  But the women there were a huge support to me, so I feel like I need to go on at least a few times a week to check in, and offer some support of my own, now that it doesn't hurt to breathe so much.

A few weeks ago a woman posted that she had just had a d&c because she found out that her baby had down syndrome, and she was sad because they had to start all over again.  Well.  This got people seriously riled up.  Down syndrome is compatible with life, you see.  So her baby could have lived, but she terminated the pregnancy because she wasn't able to deal with a special needs child.  People were seriously upset.  One person said that she technically had an abortion, and hinted that she hoped the next child didn't have any other imperfections, like, say, the wrong color eyes, or else they might get the chopping block too.  One woman was a special education teacher, and she said she was horrified.  At first I felt sorry for the original woman - she had come on the board looking for support, and people should have given her that support and not judged her.

But then I got to thinking that, while yes, we should give her the support she needs, really it's pretty stupid of her to come on a grief board and talk about the baby she willingly gave up because it was going to have special needs.  If I willingly give something up, I can't go around saying that I've "lost" it.  I haven't lost it.  I've given it up.  It's pretty insensitive of that woman to come on a board where there are thousands of women grieving their own lost babies, who would willingly have traded places with her to have a healthy baby.  I know I would have.  If Baby Teysko would have had down syndrome it would have been very sad, and we would have been very upset, but that's the baby we were given, the baby we were trying so hard to have.  I'm not going to throw that back in the face of whatever creator there is out there who deemed me worthy and strong enough to care for him.  That would be our baby, and we'd manage.  Life would look a lot different, and I pray that we never have to be in that position to make good on our words, but I can pretty confidently say that we would figure something out, and that baby would be loved, and welcomed into the world and into our arms.

Even if we didn't, and for whatever reason we wound up terminating the pregnancy, I wouldn't go on to a bloody grief and loss board and talk about how I made a conscious decision to end my pregnancy, scheduling the appointment myself, and having it all go according to my plan.  That's just not a loss.  A loss is something you don't get any say over.  It's not something you work into your schedule because the alternative doesn't suit you.

I fully believe that original woman should have support, and I have no idea how difficult and painful it was for her to make her decision.  There are probably message boards and support groups for people in her position, but I think it's pretty darned insensitive to hang out on a board of grieving women because your baby was going to have special needs.  Look, it's like an exclusive club, these grieving mama's.  And you have to go through a horrific hazing to be part of it.  That hazing can include sudden ambulance rides, expected routine ultrasounds where there is suddenly no heartbeat, huge amounts of blood, being more frightened than you've ever been in your entire life, screams, rivers of tears, and going through six hours of labor to deliver baby that was alive when you started, but will die during delivery.

That hazing does not include getting on the phone with your doctor's office, checking your calendar, and planning a convenient time to end your pregnancy.

We don't get a lot, us grieving mama's.  We don't get to celebrate mother's day, even though we're mothers.  We don't get to put the baby clothes we bought on to the baby we intended them for.  Some even don't get to return the baby furniture they bought.  We don't get pictures, we don't get memories, and we don't get locks of hair.  But we get to call ourselves grieving mama's, and I'm sorry, but unless you went through the hazing ritual, you don't get to be part of that group.  And that's all I can say about that.

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