Things We Don't Talk About...or Things I'll Tell My Daughter

     There are so many things that we, as women, have been brought up to believe are "taboo" subjects, or at least that you don't need to share with anyone. After going through a series of intense situations on my own, I realized one day that so many of my fellow women--my mother, my friends, my relatives, my acquaintances--had experienced the exact same thing, and had thought, as I had, that they were the only one. Instead of "burdening" others with our problems, we had suffered in silence, in loneliness, in defeat. I have decided that, when my daughter can understand (and she's pretty smart, so we've discussed some of these already), I will have these conversations with her. I will have them before they happen, so that she won't feel silly, or alone, or a burden when she wants to talk about them. Maybe by talking about them now, some of them won't happen to her at all.

     I've compiled a list of the 5 biggest things we don't talk about (these 5 are the ones that have made the greatest impact on my life, but feel free to share your burdens below--I bet someone else has experienced it too) in the hopes that if we share these things, we as women will begin to understand that WE ARE NOT ALONE.

                   image source:  author

1. Miscarriages happen

     I have miscarried several times. The first time I was not only devastated from the miscarriage, but from a careless nurse practitioner who chimed, after we failed to see a heartbeat on the ultrasound, "Oh, So I guess you're having a bad day!" (Just FYI, she was not allowed to see me in my subsequent pregnancy, and eventually was fired.) With a miscarriage, you either aren't telling anyone it happened because it was too soon, or you're having to explain every time someone asks "so how are you feeling?" that although you feel like crap, it's not the crap that comes from pregnancy. I have also suffered from a complete molar pregnancy. I think it was even harder to wrap my head around the fact that what I had been told was a baby was actually just a mound of cancerous tissue. When asked how the pregnancy was going, I hesitated, then haltingly explained my circumstance to a friend...who burst into tears because she had suffered the same exact thing two years before, but had never told anyone. Here's a fact I didn't know then: miscarriages are very, very common. They are NOT YOUR FAULT. There was nothing you could have done, because in all likelihood the genetic tissue simply wasn't viable. It's no less heart-breaking, it's no less devastating, BUT IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.

2. Depression can strike anyone, at any time

     Nobody wants to tell their friends they are crazy. In my case, I had such a severe case of depression that I honestly believed my mother was trying to steal my baby from the town fair. I had stopped to get Coffeeguy some fried dough, and my mother said she was going to take the baby down to the exit to wait. I either didn't hear her, or more likely, forgot she had said it in the mix of hormones that was rattling my brain. I had paranoia, anger, racing thoughts, the whole shebang. I can laugh about it now, but the horrified panic that occurred actually caused me to think: "They always tell you kidnappers are the people closest to you." Crazy, I know. I had lost my father the year before, and then miscarried, and then instead of waiting I got pregnant again right away, treating my body to a hormone cocktail that was sure to throw my brain out of whack. To add insult to injury, shortly after I had Punkgirl I had to have my gall bladder removed, and then, the most devastating of all, my 31 year old brother died suddenly of meningitis.

     We're trained that we can do everything, and that to be unable to do everything is a weakness, so needless to say I faked my way through my postpartum exam like a champ. I held myself up at my brother's wake, as if crying would be an insult to his memory. I was strong, I was woman, you could hear me roar. Six months later, after a night of picturing myself stabbing a pair of scissors through my wrists, I was scared to death and left a tearful message for my physician, and then told her I was just fine when she actually called me back. If it weren't for her call to Coffeeguy (which violated doctor-patient privilege, I think, but which also saved my life) I shudder to think what might have happened. I remember as clear as day (even though it was nighttime) trying to convince Coffeeguy that I was fine and that we had to take Punkgirl (who was all of 6 months old) trick-or-treating, and him telling me he could drive me or call an ambulance. My hormone-soaked brain cells were certain he only wanted to have a reason to take the baby away from me. Thankfully, I was then able to talk to someone, who explained not only that I had post-partum depression, but that all of those events combined together were enough to make anybody crack temporarily. That it would be abnormal if I DIDN'T. My advice for you, which was the best advice given to me, is if you are feeling this way, TAKE THE HELP. It's OK to crack, because LIFE. IS. HARD.

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