Thursday, December 1, 2011

The one where I compare having a baby to winning the lottery

The most interesting part of my journey over the past many months has been coming to terms with people's opinions about our situation. 

It's funny how people respond when I tell them about my miscarriage.  Mostly, they don't think it's a big deal - I get a lot of it just wasn't meant to be-s and Relax!  It'll happen when it's time-s.  Although I know that people truly mean well, it's hard to explain just how isolating and invalidating these comments are. 

It's just that, if you haven't experienced trouble getting pregnant, it is extremely hard to relate. 

So I was trying to think of an analogy that might be appropriate and relatable.

Imagine that you play the lottery.  One day, by some miracle, your numbers come up!  You've won millions!  You're elated, extatic!  In an instant, your entire future has changed, just like that.

But when you go to claim the prize, you discover one tragic fact: you can't find the ticket.  At first, it's no big deal.  You're sure you'll find it.  You check everywhere you can think of: the pockets of your jeans, your wallet, the deep, dark recesses of your purse, the glove compartment of the car.  Feeling a little aggravated but still completely confident that you'll find it eventually, you check less likely places: under the couch cushions, the trash in the bathroom, behind the washing machine, in that drawer of miscellaneous junk every household seems to have. 

No luck. 

As the days and weeks go by, your confidence in finding the ticket begins to fade, and frustration, disbelief and disappointment set in in their place. 

To add insult to injury, someone puts up a billboard advertising the unclaimed millions.  A billboard you have to see each and every time you drive to work, to and from lunch, and home again.  Without fail, every time you look at that billboard, you get a sick feeling in your gut reminding you of what you almost had; what you still could have if you could only find that darn ticket!

Now, you might decide to stare straight ahead, blocking out everything but the road each time you pass the billboard.  You might tell yourself not to think about it.  You might even take the long way home just to avoid that stupid billboard.  Either way, you can't get around the knowledge that the only reason you're doing those things is to avoid being reminded of them in the first place, which, of course, makes you think about it all over again. 

With millions of dollars at stake, would you give up looking for the ticket?  Of course not!  You'd turn over every stone, sort through every piece of trash, jump at each and every measly scrap of paper that even kind of resembles the ticket.  Because each piece of paper could be the piece of paper. 

And you'll do this forever.  The only way to end the cycle is either a) find the ticket or b) come to the genuine conclusion that you wouldn't have been better off with those millions after all.   

The only flaw I see in this analogy is that, in the case of a lottery winner, everyone is going to sympathize.  We can all imagine how we would feel and react in that circumstance.  People would turn out in droves to help find the lost ticket - some out of genuine care for the person who lost it, others for their own selfish hope of being rewarded with a part of the prize; either way, the result is the same.  You've got loads of people to lean on who will thoroughly lament the injustice of the whole situation.   

Can you imagine someone saying, well, I guess it just wasn't meant to be!  Play again when the time is right! 

Um, yeah.  Didn't think so. 

So there you have it.  That's a little glimpse into the fabulous world of trying - and failing - to get pregnant. 

I don't say any of this with judgement.  None of it is directed at any one person, or even any group of people.  I feel extremely grateful to have had so many offer such shows of support, and I know that none of it comes with the intent of hurt feelings. 

Just know that, like having lost out on millions in the lottery, this isn't something that is easy to let go of.  It's not something I can just relax about or suddenly be okay with.  Like anyone who is hurting for whatever reason, sometimes it's better to acknowledge that certain things in life just hurt, and there isn't anywhere to go with it but on.  And you know what?  It's okay.


  1. Hey Melissa,

    I made my way over to your blog from facebook.

    Before I was pregnant with Will, I thought that it wouldn't be such a big deal for me to lose a pregnancy early on (though I wouldn't have told anyone else that it shouldn't be a big deal for them! geez!) But then even by the end of the day we found out, there was the strong mama bear sense that this was MY. KID. I imagine you felt the same way, both about Leah and about this one.

    Anyway, all this is to say that of course you are grieving, and I hope you find comfort where you can.


  2. loved this analogy, it is so true! I have never lost a pregnancy but as you know, know what it's like to have difficulty getting pregnant. as always, i love your honesty :)


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