Sometimes I think I’m a superhero- envision that Christina Aguilera song playing in the background for the full effect. I do a lot of superhero like things. Ok, well at the very least I’m probably a rock star. I packed my bags with my 8 month old and moved about 15 states away from my family to work as a live in nanny and go to law school full-time. I graduated, studied for and passed a bar exam in the throes of HG. I spent significant time in college and law school speaking about and talking with other sexual assault survivors. And now, I am a full-time working mom, supporting my entire clan, making all our student loan payments on time-mostly- and planning organic nutritious meals for everyone too. Well if I’m not a rock star, can I at least say I’m a good caring contributing member of society?
I think of myself as a very strong woman. There is not much that I don’t try to take on. I’m not trying to boast. All of this probably stems from my extreme stubborn-ness and my crazy obsessiveness (my husband would be adamantly nodding in agreement right now). It’s cliché, but if I put my mind to something, I accomplish it. I have to, because I won’t get any sleep if I don’t!
I tell you this, because part of my grief comes from this sense of failure. A part of my wanting to get through a hellish pregnancy again, comes from wanting to try again and succeed. It drives me absolutely mad that I feel like I couldn’t conquer HG. And I know fear can be overpowering, and I know the reasons I couldn’t conquer it this time. I am aware of all of them, I replay the scenarios and facts all day long. This sense of failure adds a different dimension to grief, and it might even be unique to the HG woman who has had to make this type of decision.
Seeing other women who are making it through this, sometimes makes it harder. Why couldn’t I be as strong as her? How could I have failed myself, my family and my baby so horribly? How could my own body, that I go out of my way to take care of, let me down so badly?
An HG sister that I sometimes correspond with relayed to me the wisdom of one of her confidants. Her confidant suggested that the termination perhaps was a gift she gave herself. Now quite honestly, I can’t grasp hold of that, as it doesn’t feel completely right for me. It doesn’t in my situation, because deep down this could never feel like a gift I gave myself. It feels very much like I ruined the sweet innocent life I had. It in fact feels like the very opposite for me. I think it could be very useful to frame the situation that way for others- and I would never suggest someone not think of that way if it works for them. Maybe it is a gift to yourself, maybe some find the choice empowering. For me it was very simply not an empowering choice.
What I might be able to hold onto from this suggestion, is that I did look the terrible beast of HG straight in the eye and I accepted and subsequently honored my limitations. That is what is meant by “gift.” Admitting defeat to something is not easy for me to do. And I’m not quite raising the white flag just yet. I think however that for me and the stage of life that I am in right now, being the sole financial provider, having two young children at home (one who needs a little extra attention) I truly felt that I could not have an unplanned, under treated HG pregnancy. This doesn’t mean that others can’t do it. If you are in the midst of it- you CAN do it. I will help you, others will help you. I would not ever suggest that you throw in the towel but I would also never suggest that you don’t honor your limitations if you feel you need too.
Because as it turns out we are not superheros. On my best day, I’m probably not even a rock star. There are things that can defeat me. So many people carried me through those accomplishments listed above, none of us can do any of what we do alone.
I hope HG doesn’t turn out to be one of the things that ruins me. For now I work on accepting that this time, I didn’t succeed. I work on recognizing that I am human as others have suggested. For better or worse, I honored my very real limitations at that time. There are days when this feels true and comforting, days that it doesn’t. I’m sure that’s part of the process.
“…Hold on, it keeps getting better”