Triggering (adjective): Causing someone emotional distress, typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience
I haven’t read many books on baby loss. Strange, really. Especially since picking up a book is the one thing I do, every single day. I’ve taken to writing, rather than reading, about baby loss.
At first, I thought it was because I didn’t want anyone else to affect ‘my voice’. Pretentious as that sounds, it was because I didn’t want to inadvertently plagiarise anybody! I didn’t want to pass off anyone else’s thoughts, as my own. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to say, via my own Mumoirs.
But now I’ve come to wonder whether the real reason, is because I’m a wuss. Because reading about baby loss, voluntarily exposing yourself to it, isn’t easy. Which is how I’ve belatedly come to realise, that I owe you all a big THANK YOU. I am extremely privileged to have so many of you, going through it, and yet still regularly reading this blog.
I know that it helps me to write this stuff, I’m just not sure that it helps me to read about it. For me, there’s a protective line. I’ve found that reading people’s Instagram accounts, current thoughts and daily insights, helpful. A comfortable reminder, that others are with me in this. But, whole books, with all of the heart-breaking details and emotions, there’s only one word for it: triggering.
Yet, here YOU are, reading every detail of my personal account. Something I’ve just said, I find difficult to do. One of the best friends I’ve made from the baby loss community, doesn’t read any of my blogs. She’s worried she’ll find it too upsetting, I totally get it (and when a person I knew wrote an autobiographical book, it took me a while to pluck up the courage to read it. It was like reading his diary, even though he wanted us to, even though I want you to!). So really, I think I’m a tad in awe of YOUR strength.
It’s a difficult line: I want to support others, but I need to shield myself too. In fact, that’s the crux of living with baby loss, isn’t it? That sums up every pregnancy announcement and every baby shower invite! How do you support others, whilst protecting yourself? Discuss.
You know how I said that I don’t read blurbs? Well, I picked up a Dawn French (yep, the well-known British comedienne) novel recently, expecting it to be a funny, uplifting read. Wrong, wrong, so wrong. Spoiler alert: it was, in fact, about a woman who had a stillbirth and then stole another woman’s baby. Talk about heavy weekend reading material. I would hazard a guess, that Dawn French hasn’t been through a stillbirth. Apologies Dawn, but bruthfully, it didn’t quite ring true. The protagonist barely seemed to think about her own loss and then literally found a replacement baby. Grr. Not best pleased with that messaging. Despite it being a work of fiction, I still found it extremely triggering. Reading someone else’s (even fictional) experience of those moments, urgh. And then I really related (more so, actually) to the woman whose child had been taken, her life was in ruins. She was living with loss.
Perhaps I’m not really saying anything insightful – of course this topic was going to be triggering for me, but it has made me think about how incredible it is, that people read this blog. I really do feel privileged.
Last year, I mentioned a programme we were watching called Trying. It’s on Apple TV (whatever that means) and it’s about a couple, living in Camden, struggling with infertility and trying to adopt. It is extremely sensitively written, (supposedly) light-hearted, and just so very touching. We’ve just started binge-watching Season 2 and I can’t help but watch that fictional couple and bawl my eyes out. Their journey is so different to our own and yet, I find myself in tears thinking “this nice couple, just can’t catch a break!”. Well and truly triggered.
There is no limit to the things which make me bawl my eyes out now. It’s usually the acts of a mother’s love, that get me now. In the ending to Dawn French’s book, there’s a real act of a mother’s love, where (though wholly unrealistic and nothing to do with baby loss) I cried buckets. When I watched Little Fires Everywhere (FYI – I thought the TV show was better than the book, a rare feat), I sobbed when a mum literally removed the shirt from her back, to keep her baby warm. When we (very belatedly) watched When They See US, I wailed when a mum told her son in prison that she had no extra money to give him. It’s the stuff that’s not necessarily sad to anyone else, but I can weirdly feel it now. I feel it. I never used to, this stuff comes from Summer. How strange, to have an emotional response to a mother, almost as a mother, when I’ve never really been one?
And that’s just the fictional stuff. The real-life stories can floor me even more.
The thing is, with these programmes and with these books, they’ve one thing in common: the happier endings. So, I reason, perhaps that’s why people read this blog, because I’ve no guarantee of that. In fact, I’m statistically more likely to have an unhappy one. It’s not just bad fertility luck, I’m just not all that normal. We are in the 1% of couples who experience recurrent pregnancy loss. So yep, if you want a dose of cold, harsh reality, you stick with me! But credit to you, I really hope it’s not too triggering.
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