Everyone Is Fighting a Battle Beyond What You Can See


Several years ago I shared a story about having a miscarriage. While it was definitely a sad time, I used it as a catalyst to change my life. I realized I’d been hanging on to this sad sack career because I thought that it provided The Stability My Family Needed. It was making me miserable and angry.

I wasn’t just miserable and angry because of the job, it wasn’t a bad job, but because it really meant nothing. I was having to do all sorts of mental contortions to make it Mean Something. So when I realized that my stable little family wasn’t going to need to prepare for any more maternity leaves -- I changed things.

Army. EMT. New jobs. New figure. Way new outlook.

I had meaning.

And I had packed up the notion of having more babies and put it away. And I was okay with that. Yes, there were moments when I saw babies and wanted another one, but then I thought about how much I already had in life -- my two kids are enough. My family is enough.

And then I got pregnant.

Just a month after starting an awesome new job at STARS.ca (seriously, awesome place), I found out my husband’s procrastination on getting a vasectomy had come back to haunt me.

Why yes, I do know there are other ways of protecting oneself against pregnancy. Thankyouverymuch. We were employing those techniques. And it had worked for most of six years; I figured we were pretty good at it.

Just to make it even more hilarious, the due date was August 2012.

August. Like my other two children, both August babies. (Bet you didn’t guess my family planning was to only have sex once a year. Ha!)

I spent a week on the couch. Depressed. I know you are supposed to be happy about babies. I know they are awesome. I spent many years wanting more babies. Cuddling every baby I could find, wishing for a Whoopsie I’m Pregnant moment.

This was more like a F***! I’m Pregnant! moment.

In fact I told my husband in the most romantic way possible: “what the hell is this!” while waving a still dripping pee stick in his face.

And in one moment...

I kept apologizing to the little peanut. “I’m sorry, I don’t hate you, I am just really mad right now. It’s not your fault, it’s just that apparently your father and I have all the family planning skills of a teenaged boy in rut.”

I didn’t want to tell anyone. But I was sick, really sick. Puking in the shower, migraines in the middle of the night (causing more puking), lightheaded whenever I tried to work out, nauseated constantly.

In fact the first time I broke down and said something was at a school volunteer event. I was trying so hard to keep it together (it was an emotional event, an anti-bullying event… very powerful), but sort of blurted it out at a fellow mom. And started to cry.

She was so smart. She recognized instantly what was happening and knew that “I’m sorry” was a heck of a lot more appropriate than “congratulations.”

And once I had let it out, it was easier to tell a few select people. Just those people who might notice what was happening. You know, the moms I drink with.

And then I started to plan. Because that’s what I do.

I knew there would be negative repercussions to my career as an EMT. It was all I could focus on for the first week. But I knew I had to choose the positive things to focus on instead. A baby, time at home with my kids, a BABY!

That lead to name choosing. And booking a midwife. And stockpiling diapers. And planning to tell the family at Christmastime. Just like I’d done with the other two. Of course I’d wait to tell my employers and I’d wait to Facebook it and I’d wait to tell the kids. (For the record, my son thinks we should have another baby, and my daughter is adamantly opposed to it. Well, she’d be “ok” with it if it were a girl. Only a girl.)

And then the baby died.

It was, of course, discovered around what would have been the 12 week mark, at a dating ultrasound to confirm the due date. It had probably not developed past 9 weeks they said.

Options were discussed. Take some drugs, cause the “products of conception” (really, I was more partial to Piper or Faith or even Arthur) to leave the uterus. Wait it out. Book surgery.

I chose to wait. I’d had the surgery before. And if it had already been three weeks then surely it wouldn’t take that long for my body to realize it wasn’t holding a baby any more, it could let go. Yeah, my body… she is stubborn.

Weeks went by.

And here’s where I finally get to the point.

During those weeks? I was fighting a battle.

Was I happy? Sad? Mourning? Relieved? I had no idea if I’d been dealt a crappy hand or dodged a bullet.

My body still thought it was pregnant. The puking continued. The headaches continued. The constant nausea. I began to fret about every ache… took my temperature often, worried about becoming septic. (Oh EMT knowledge, you make things so complicated.) And Christmas was getting closer.

I had insisted on a second ultrasound. Something that was met with resistance by the Early Pregnancy Loss Clinic. But I wanted to be SURE before I did something drastic to end this battle. The second ultrasound showed a smaller mass than the first one. Yep, nothing growing there.

So I scheduled the D&C and they got me in at the last minute, just a couple days before Christmas. It was like the switch had flipped inside me and for the first time in two months I felt healthy.

And yet I was still so conflicted. I felt like I’d been wrung out and beaten on a rock. It had been a rough two months.

I wonder how many people I encountered that just thought “well, she’s just a bitch” or “must be having a bad day” or “can’t you pull it together, what’s wrong with you?” or maybe they saw some behavior, some lack of tidiness in my home or rat’s nest hair or unkempt appearance as more evidence that I’m a bad mother/person/friend.

Maybe I didn’t shoulder check properly because I was distracted by nausea and someone thought I was a total idiot in traffic. Maybe someone at the school thought I was a total flake because I didn’t remember to sign some paperwork or I didn’t seem to care enough when my son got in trouble. Or that I was just a weak person because I burst into tears for silly reasons -- like being told by a secretary that I missed the deadline for the magazine orders at school.


Two months of being a wreck.

But I was in a battle. And I knew it.

So who around me is fighting a battle?

When a Provincial Conservative staff member sent out a tweet about a Wildrose Party figurehead being insincere about family issues because she had no children… betcha she didn’t guess that the battle there was infertility.


When a friend forgets our date.

When a family member seems distracted.

When someone reacts angrily with little provocation.

When that driver cuts me off.

When my co-worker cries.

When my boss snaps at someone.

When that kid hits someone.

When that teenager tells me he’s fine.

When someone doesn’t return my calls or emails.

Sure. Maybe they are all just being jerks. Maybe there’s nothing wrong and I’m projecting my own feelings on them. Maybe a jerk is just a jerk. A bitch is just a bitch. A dumb driver is just a dumb driver.

But maybe there’s a battle going on inside.

A dream is dying.

A hope is dying.

A war is waging.

And who am I to withhold mercy at a time like that?

So I call for mercy and grace for the jerks, bitches, assholes, bigots, distracted friends, teenagers acting out, co-workers snapping… and even for politicians. Yes for the republicans and conservatives and liberals and democrats and independents.

Just grace and mercy.

Because you never see the battle on the outside.

You only see the warrior.


Photo Credit: dongkwan.

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