Monday, July 13, 2015

It's ok to know what you need (and what you need to avoid).

This past weekend was the second Edel Gathering. It looked fun and lovely and inspiring. This year was the second year I didn't go. Both years I could have gone. We could have made it work financially. My husband was very supportive of me having a weekend away. I wanted to go. There were so many ladies I wanted to see (and meet) that would be there. I'm sure I would have had a great time. But for two years in a row, the timing would have made it too painful.

Last year, I knew several women who were going and bringing along their couple month old babies. Our Francis would have been a few months old. I also knew several ladies who would be seven months pregnant. I would have been seven months pregnant with Julian. The miscarriages were still so raw then and it seemed like the reminders would have been too plentiful for me to have enjoyed myself.

I had planned to go to Edel this year, up until a week before the tickets were released. I got a positive pregnancy test and with the due date being next week, it was quite impossible to attend the conference ten days before a baby was set to arrive. And then I miscarried and I could go, but once again, it seemed like going would be too painful knowing that the only reason I was there was because my baby died. Due dates are pretty dark times for me and having two less than a month apart has cast a long shadow over this June and July. It's possible that going to Edel could have been exactly what I needed to lift me out of this funk, but it's just as possible that I would have been emotionally miserable the whole time. It wasn't worth it to spend so much money and make arrangements for childcare without knowing which way it would pan out.

I'm 100% sure I made the right decision. I used to try to force myself to events or else feel guilty for letting my losses "get the best of me" and dictate what I do. But now I'm pretty confident in my decisions. While I can force myself to go to events, I can't force myself to enjoy them and there is no triumph in going to an event only to be miserable the whole time. And staying home does not mean that I've let my losses rule my life, it means that I'm wise enough to know what I need (or what I need to avoid) in the healing process and that I've given myself the permission and grace to heal.

Now, when it comes to the events of others - a baby shower, meeting a new friend's baby, a get together where I suspect a pregnancy announcement will be made (and I'm right 99% of the time), the birthday party of a child who would be about the age of one of my lost littles, etc. - I do force myself to go. I completely support others who decide to stay home from similar events, but I know my weaknesses and the truth is that I can all too easily get tied up in my own pain and self pity if I let myself focus only on me. It's important to me that I force myself to take part in the joy of others and that I do not allow myself excuses to let my personal sorrow overshadow others' celebrations. I will not let the death of my children prevent me from celebrating the gifts of life around me, even if my celebration isn't always heartfelt.

I've found that the only way it gets easier is to go through these events anyway, kind of the whole "fake it 'til you make it" thing. Eventually they get easier, after so many times of going to celebrations for a particular child (and crying at home afterwards), it's no longer painful to be around her - she'll still remind me of the child I lost with a similar due date, but the feelings of intense grief don't show up every time I see her little face.

So I do always go to others' events in order to force me outside of myself, but when it comes to events for me like Edel, or going to moms' groups or play dates or girl's night out, etc., I no longer worry about what I "should" be doing. I listen to what I need and then a unapologetically allow myself to do just that. My miscarriages are a part of my life, now and forever. I can pretend they never happened and force myself to live as if they hadn't, but it's much more beneficial to acknowledge them and find a way to incorporate them into my life. Sometimes that means staying home, missing out, saying "no". And that's ok.

This is what I imagine Edel was like. 

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