(Or: Sometimes we all need a little rant.)
I think some of you might have gotten a slightly unrealistic view of how optimistic I am, based on some of my previous posts. I mean, I like to try and do jedi mind tricks on myself to try and make the best of things, which I like to think is a rational response to less enjoyable situations. Or in Pollyanna terms, I try and play The Glad Game.
Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game,” an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna’s father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because “we didn’t need to use them!”
In terms of my many years of infertility, subsequent IVF and miscarriage, I’ve tried to play The Glad Game by identifying and taking joy in the small happinesses and trying not to let this define my life. In many ways, I feel like I’ve moved on in a healthy way following my miscarriage and even though I feel like I think of it in the back of my mind almost every minute of the day, I’m able to rationalise and bring balance by repeatedly focusing on the things I have to be happy about.
The Glad Game: Infertility Edition*
- I don’t have a baby but… isn’t it great I get to have lie ins at the weekend?
- I can’t get pregnant but… I get to stay slim(ish) and I don’t get saggy boobs and stretch marks!
- I don’t have kids but… I have a better job than all my friends who are mums!
- I lost the baby but… I can drink as much wine as I want and eat cheese!
- I had a miscarriage but… at least I know that I can get pregnant after 15 years!
- We don’t have kids but… we can do things at short notice and go on holiday when we want to!
- We aren’t parents but… we have great people (and animals) in our life who we love and care for!
(* I hope you read that in the slightly sarcastic British humour way it was intended!)
Sometimes it’s tiring trying to see the good side of everything.
Sometimes getting upset is a completely rational response. Really… Who can be Pollyanna all the time?
I get the same thoughts as everyone else, and coupled with the British sarcasm and cynicism, I have to tell you that my friends I know in real life would be in hysterics to think that any of you might consider me optimistic! I am “blessed” with a deadpan BRF (do not click that link if your filters are strict… it stands for b—-y resting face!) and no matter what I do, people seem to think I’m in a bad mood. My dad likes to tell people about how I’m the only baby he ever met that could stop an adult from across the room just by staring at them.
I’ve learned over the years how to counteract this – depending on the situation, I force myself to blink (rather than do my special death stare) and smile (despite the fact that I just don’t feel like walking around with an inane grin on my face), and probably by being excessively wordy in an attempt to explain myself. (“I may look like I want you to shrivel up and die but rest assured I really like you, gosh, isn’t that a lovely dress you’re wearing? Will you be my friend?” type stuff… Those of you who read my blog regularly will know the blethery style!)
But… sometimes my defences are down and I have a completely emotional response to something. I’m not immune to the power of frustration and sadness over focusing on the good stuff.
And today was one of those days.
My friends in the infertility community (that club nobody wants to be in) will be familiar with this one.
Sometimes I just see red and today was one of those days.
Note to self: Stay off Facebook.
So, today I was on Facebook, harmlessly minding everyone else’s business (!) and I was presented with a big advert in the middle of the page. I know Facebook likes to do this and has some sort of dodgy data scraping algorithm which decides which adverts you’re going to see. I know how the paid advertising works, because I have a page on Facebook which I’ve occasionally done some advertising for, so I know that you pick out your target audience, either by aiming at friends of people who’ve liked the page (the reasoning being that friends of people who like your product are more likely to like your product than complete strangers, and may have similar interests to their friends) or you can aim at people who like certain things – you put in keywords to do this. For example, if someone has said on their profile that they like rugby, you can target adverts for rugby related clothing or rugby matches.
Anyway, so what do I get this morning (whilst I have a bad headache that may or may not be related to some wine I drank last night) but…
An advert for nappies!
WTF. Do I really need a baby-plastered image advertising nappies (diapers to my American friends!) at this time of the morning when I have a blinding headache and I’ve not long ago lost a baby? Even worse, the name of the company is Beaming Baby which just bloody enraged me. The advert had a literal beaming baby surrounded by nappies and I just thought WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS?!
What did I do?
I wrote an extremely stroppy message to Beaming Baby.
I told them they needed to review their targeted advertising.
I told them not every over 30 year old has a baby.
I’ve just had a miscarriage.
I’ve never “liked” a baby page and I don’t have anywhere on my profile that I like babies, or am interested in baby stuff.
I’ve occasionally bought presents for baby showers (so I can understand why suggestions come up from amazon, for example) but I DO NOT HAVE A BABY!
Yup… I’m not proud of myself here but I had a slight rant. (They haven’t replied… I’ll tell you if they do.)
The thing is, there’s no button you can press to make the baby stuff go away. (With the Zuckerberg-Chan pregnancy and miscarriage announcement, you’d think there might be.)
Here’s the thing… You can focus on all the great stuff in your life, which I really do try and do, but there comes a time when you are faced with a beaming baby. And all the Glad Games in the world can’t really make up for the fact that you don’t have one.
I don’t have my beaming baby.
I should have been well into my second trimester by now. (I stopped counting so I don’t know exactly… too upsetting to focus on.) I should have been wearing the belly band which is sitting on the side still in its packet, unopened. It arrived the week we were told it might not be good news, so I never opened it. I should have been clear headed this morning because I wouldn’t have been to the pub last night. (We won the pub quiz – still not enough consolation for my baby dying, I’m afraid.) Or… I might have gone to the pub and been able to do that smug-pregnant “I’m not drinking; I’ll have a lemonade” thing, which I never got to do. I could have made jokes about how fat I was getting whilst secretly thinking ha!
But I never got my little beaming baby. I don’t want to be reminded of this all the time. I don’t need reminding. It’s there, my loss, looming in the back of my mind pretty much every minute of every day.
(To be fair, my baby would probably be more cross looking.)
They say women are better at multi-tasking than men; I say this applies to thinking and remembering loss. I can do everything else… I can live my life… I can walk my dog and cuddle him and rejoice in how lucky I am to have the most amazing dog in the world. I can go to my job in the corporate world and talk about stuff that needs a PowerPoint presentation to accompany it. I can go out on adventures with T. I can stay in and watch tv. I can cook dinner. I can be a proper grown up. I can be silly and act like a child.
I can do all of these things because I am a woman. I am strong. I am an expectant mother. I just don’t know when my child is coming… or whether the one I lost is the only one I’m ever going to have.
So… here’s my thought for the day.
If we can put out positivity then eventually, by the law of averages, it’s going to come back. But we have no way of controlling how it comes back. I might be blessed in my life in all other areas than ever having a baby. I don’t know because I’m not at the end of my journey yet… so I’m going to keep trying, because persistence is key to success.
Being like Pollyanna isn’t about being happy all the time – it’s about choosing to focus on the things we can be thankful for. Playing the Glad Game. We, in the infertility community, who know about loss… we are used to playing the game.
But we can’t all be Pollyanna all of the time. And that’s okay.