Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | April 1, 2008

Am I different?

“Am I different? Am I a different person from the one I was before we lost our first child?” This is what I asked my best friend recently, the person who probably knows me better than anyone, the person with whom I have shared memories that go back more than twenty years.

It was something I’d been meaning to ask her for a while now, a question that had been swirling around in my head as I witnessed friends and others recount the life-altering tragedies in their lives. I observed intently as they pondered similar questions, as they wondered what their lives would be like – indeed, what they themselves would be like – had things not veered so dramatically and horrifically off course. I listened to their stories, their perceptions; I listened as they spoke of their battles to move beyond what had happened – what they did, how they coped.

And then I began to think about myself. Had I changed? How had I coped? On the outside, I believe I appeared to be normal. On the inside, however, it was a different story. On the inside, I was screaming with frustration, unable to rid myself of the demons that rarely left my side. I was stressed out and I was emotional, and I did my best to keep it under wraps. I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t want pity. I was not prepared to share my weaknesses, and I was very selective with regard to those who were invited to pass that barrier. I was not especially secretive about all that we had been through, but at the same time, I refused to let most people see the emotional toll it had taken. And, now that I think about it, I realize that those people who “saw” the most were my friends who lived the farthest away – the ones to whom I conveyed my feelings in writing, the ones who couldn’t actually see my face, my body language. I was unable to let my guard down enough in front of the people who were always around me, unable to risk the possibility of letting my emotions get the better of me in the company of others. Instead, I relied on emails and chats, relishing the safety and security of physical distance, allowing me to maintain some semblance of control over my own volatile, wildly unpredictable emotions.

It was during this period in my life that one such friendship really stood out. This wise, dear friend gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten. “Life is a series of choices,” he said. “You’re going to get hit with a lot of shit, and it’s up to you to choose how to deal with it.” What he said made sense, and without really realizing it, in some ways, it was something I’d been doing all along. After each setback I’d allowed time for the dust to settle, and then I’d more or less picked myself up and moved on. I kept going, kept trying. I refused to give up. My inner turmoil continued, but instead of allowing myself to be completely engulfed by it, I used it as the impetus to keep going. I chose to fight.

Of course, in a sense, it was easier to keep trying than to stop. To stop would have meant that I’d lost hope, that I didn’t believe we would ever succeed. It would have meant accepting defeat, which I believed would be far more painful than meeting each individual failure head on, while at the same time retaining some small modicum of hope that persistence would eventually bring success. Encouragement came in a multitude of forms, as I scoured the internet in search of “suitably favorable” medical statistics and people shared the stories they’d heard. Sometimes, I’d listen to the stories, unable to decide if I should laugh or cry. Laugh, because the moral of the story always seemed to be that persistence would win out in the end. Cry, because the end could be years and years later, after 14 assisted cycles. On the one hand, I wanted desperately to succeed, but on the other, I could not imagine going through so much for so long. The prospect terrified me; it exhausted me.

In the end, nature won out over advanced technology and we were blessed with the Little One. So many years of frustration and sadness culminated in the birth of this wondrous little boy, and simply put, we cannot believe our luck. And yet, despite the fact that those years are now behind us, they have not been forgotten, and I suspect they never will be. The pain will always be there, sometimes just below the surface, and at other times, deeply buried. In some ways, I am more sensitive than I was, yet in other ways, I am less tolerant. According to my best friend though, who I was before did not disappear.

Apparently, I am still me.

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Responses

  1. Yes, you are, my dear Liza. And what a wonderful you you are!

  2. Well said, well felt, well fought. And well-rewarded.

    If I think about it long enough, I still mourn for the three I lost. It makes me a little kinder to the four who remain when they drive me insane. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the sharing of your inner feelings at hard times.
    Notice that you learned a lot on the way, the hard way but it gave you things that you’d never could have had otherwise. You discovered that your inner strength is so strong, and many more things that only you can tell…

    Send you my love and hugs

  4. nrg: Thank you! And thanks, of course, for answering my question.

    kinziblogs: Thank you, Kinzi. And I agree with your last sentence! 😉

    BTW, I feel honored to have you here as a visitor. I’ve seen your comments on some of the other blogs I enjoy reading (Tololy, Roba, etc), and feel it a privilege to have you here as well.

    Arik: Thanks for your honesty. You are right about discovering my strength. I still remember the moment I realized I had it. It was many years ago. I was out walking the dog, and suddenly that thought just popped into my head, that I was strong, that I could face anything. I remind myself of that strength whenever necessary.

    Love and kisses right back atcha.

  5. What a beautiful, sad-yet-uplifting post. I had a bit of a fertility problem at one point and needed a little help getting pregnant, so I have the teeniest, tiniest inkling of what you’re talking about. Nothing compared to what you went through, though. It sounds so trite, but it really is true that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.


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