We've talked on this blog before about anticipatory grief, and our second panel at SpouseBUZZ Live hit on it over the weekend as well.
But as much as you plan for the tragic events in your life, as much as you steel yourself against them and go through them in your head so you will be mentally and emotionally ready for them, I don't think you can accurately judge how it's going to feel until you live it.
I have gotten some insight into this today.My husband and I lost our baby.
After six hours in the emergency room and four ultrasounds, we learned that our 12-week pregnancy had stopped somewhere around week five. Apparently it's called a blighted ovum, a term I'd never heard before...and really wish I'd still never heard.
I knew all the statistics on miscarriages. I knew to prepare myself for the fact that it might happen. I constantly told myself that things could go wrong, and most of the time when we shared the news with friends and family, we mentioned that we knew it was still quite early in the pregnancy to be confident about the outcome.
But no matter how many times I told myself that something could go wrong, I honestly deep-down never really thought it would happen to me. I'm still stunned that it did. I had prepared myself, but all the preparation in the world doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
So here I sit, feeling a mixture of sad, frustrated, and angry.
That said...preparation didn't help shield me from the emotions I'm feeling right now, but preparation can help me deal with other issues that I now know to address in the future.
Joan d'Arc has repeatedly said that one thing she learned when her husband was at Walter Reed was that we all have to advocate for our own health. This is something I can be more prepared to do in the future. During this pregnancy, I had blood drawn during week 8 and week 9. I am slightly frustrated that my baby seems to have died in week 5, but no one noticed any problems in my hormone levels either time they took blood. If and when my husband and I are able to get pregnant again, I will put my foot down and insist that I be treated as "high risk" and monitored more closely. All this time I felt uneasy that I hadn't seen a doctor yet or had a physical exam, but I never pressed the issue because I felt that the hospital personnel knew what they were doing. Next time I will push harder to be more in control of my baby's health.
Like one audience member said at SpouseBUZZ Live this weekend, we can either let life's gremlins beat us down or we can try to make something positive out of them. I choose to find at least one positive aspect of the worst day of my life so far: that I become a better advocate for my health.
But, dang, am I tired of learning life's lessons.