My friend was recently sideswiped by sadness. Like me, she’s been off the “baby train” for several years and has truly come to terms with the fact that she won’t have children.
Then she had a birthday and found herself totally sideswiped, caught off-guard by her grief, and in the kitchen having a meltdown.
She’s not sure and neither was I. Maybe her birthday signified moving one step closer to menopause and the final loss of the possibility of motherhood. Maybe spending time with a friend’s son reminded her of the missing part of her life. Maybe she was feeling alone in her family-oriented community.
The point is that sometimes, even when we’re sure we have it together, even when we’ve done the grief work, even when we’ve cried an ocean and think there’s nothing left to resolve, sometimes we just get sideswiped.
Has this happened to you? What unexpected trigger has caught you off-guard?
I am ten years out from moving on from an IVF attempt that didn’t work. I also teach high school. Most of the time, I am fine, but last year around graduation time was my sideswept moment. There was one dad that was so immensely proud of his kid, and I got sad realizing I will never have exactly that.
Then I went home, cuddled my kitties, took a nap, and then felt better.
Yes. I am 36 and not sure if I’ll be having children in the future. I get triggered by sadness when I hear of a friend/former friend having a child – esp. if they are younger than me. Or if I randomly see a pregnant woman or a newborn in public – it just feels like that will never be me and I get beyond down for a bit. Luckily it passes quickly usually (well, when the woman / baby is a stranger).
My sister always informs me when one of her random friends is pregnant. It usually doesn’t bother me, but if they’re not my friend, why do I care who’s pregnant or not? Just an unnecessary moment of sadness that may stick with me through the rest of the day. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Just part of the process I guess.
My sister did this to me, too, until I kindly let her know that I didn’t want to hear any more pregnancy announcements. Even if we childless women think we’re “fine” I think it hits us on a subconscious level which eventually bubbles up to the conscious level which results in a LOT of tears and sadness.
Oh, sideswiping is so awful, especially because it catches you so off guard when you think you’re super okay. It’s hard to remind myself that I can still be okay and well-adjusted even if I have those moments that take my breath away every once in a while. Books tend to do it to me if I’m in a more emotional state of mind. I had a bunch of people recommend “A Man Called Ove” to me, and when I read it I was like, “OH MY GOD THIS SO SAD AND HITS ME SO HARD” (hopefully that’s not a spoiler). I cried. Another was an acquaintance we know who recently got married, and apparently he and his wife are pregnant. Normally this doesn’t bother me, but my mom told me and was like, “Isn’t that great that they’re EXPECTING?” and my immediate response was “Of COURSE they are. Late 30s, married less than a year, and BAM, pregnant. Of COURSE.” It was a moment of bitterness that surprised me.
You’re comment about books reminded me about the time I read Rosemary’s baby. I didn’t think a book about demon spawn would bum me out. But it did. In the end a mother’s love was so strong it didn’t matter that the baby had claws.
When someone unexpectedly discovered they were pregnant – like they didn’t even try and boom. I’m beyond childbearing years at this point, but that’s one that still can sideswipe me. I can be choose to happy for them — like love, it’s a choice — and move on, so it didn’t last too long, but def one that hit.
I think we should drop this idiotic idea of ‚grief work‘.
All through our TTC years we believed that if we just ‚work‘ hard enough at conceiving – sex by the stop watch, treatement after treatement, even relaxation as a means to an end – we‘d be rewarded with a baby. And we were bitterly disappointed. Why do we hang on to this idea, that we can now ‚work‘ the grief, and then everything will be ok? we still haven’t learned our lesson, it seems.
Perhaps I misunderstood your post because for me, doing “idiotic” grief work is what saved my life. If you don’t do the work you stuck in frozen grief. I am finally able to accept where I am because I allowed myself to get angry, to cry, to work through the deep pain of what I was going through. I went to therapy, I journaled, I read books about women going through the same thing, I meditated, I did the work.
The grief never ends. Sideswiping is just that moment when it intensifies to the point that you can’t ignore it any longer. There is a hymn in my church’s hymnbook called “Because He Lives”. One of the verses begins with the phrase…”How sweet to hold a newborn baby….” .
I HATE that hymn. Every time I hear that phrase, a piece of me dies as the grief swells inside of me. It frequently leaves me in tears in the middle of our church service. My husband knows, and just tries to comfort me.
I agree with what Elena said. We may move on, but the grief is always there, and we are never completely okay.
My latest moment to be caught off guard was Thanksgiving when my sister-in-law was talking about her grandkids (we’re in our early 50s). I had this immense sadness that I won’t have grandkids either! I knew this, of course, but it felt just as much of a loss as not having kids.
Emily Morrison says
People talking about when they want to get pregnant again and what gender they will want. Because for them planning to be pregnant is as easy as planning a vacation. They have no clue that I’m reeling inside at such talk. If only it was that easy…
amy nelson says
3 times in my life I have been to my face criticized for not having children and all three times it came from people from the faith/ church I belong to and grew up in. While I never really wanted children after I got married I found I had so many problems with my uterus that pregnancy would never be possible but this is private information that should not be shard with the world but none the less people church. I do not fit into the mommy click and they made it very clear that I am selfish for not having children