How are you?

The thing is, when I share something as personal as I did in my last entry, I suppose that I should probably follow it with an update. Because now that people know… the next logical thing to ask me is “So… how are you?”

Because talking about the miscarriage is one thing – a painful, freeing and comforting experience as it turned out to be. I remain in utter disbelief at the absolutely amazing and unexpected level of support I received from my friends, family, coworkers and people I haven’t spoken to in DECADES. And the stories. THE STORIES. Their stories have brought comfort, smiles, tears and hope. There are no words good enough to describe how they’ve helped me.

But now people are asking me “So… how are you?” They gingerly tilt their heads to one side, crinkle their foreheads and let the words lowly and slowly slip from their mouths. It’s the right thing to ask – they’re showing concern and support. It seems like a simple question. But it’s a loaded question. I’m doing everything in my power NOT to answer with any of these words: Fine. Okay. Good. I’m none of those. I’m a lot of things but I’m none of those.

There are times when I’m doing well. I’m happy even. I sing to the radio. I’m playing with Mere. Brian and I are out enjoying the fall weather on the weekend. I’m immersed in planning a strategy at work. I’m finally getting a ride in on the bike or the horse. 

But there are also times when I am driving to work and I realize it’s Monday. A few weeks back, this would have meant I’d get a little notification on my Ovia app that the little critter inside was now the size of an avocado or a chinchilla or some other ridiculous comparison. I can still count how many weeks I would have been and how many weeks since we heard we’d never get to meet that avocado or chinchilla. And then there are days like today, my post-surgery check up with the OB. Because it wasn’t until I sat down in the waiting room that it happened. I scanned the room, unaware that I was counting the pregnant couples sitting with me in that room. And without warning I felt it well up inside of me. It was like a switch was flipped. My brain suddenly shifted gears from being perfectly normal to desperately wishing to set them all on fire. It’s not a fair or rational response. But it is exactly how I felt. Anger. Pain. Jealousy. And then it occurred to me that I was, in that unexpected moment, reliving September 30th. I was back in this place reliving the day an ultrasound took my hope away. One moment. One memory. That’s all it took to turn the day upside down.

So how am I? Have you seen the movie “Inside Out?” Well, life right now is a bit like that. In the sense that I feel schizophrenic – with more than a few personalities battling it out to see who’s gonna get to drive that day. Each morning I convene this committee of crazy and they present their opening arguments. It’s a meeting of minds – well technically only my mind, just different parts of it.

The Type A – She grabs the mic first. In fact, she’s ALWAYS first to speak. She doesn’t know, understand, or tolerate failure. It’s a setback. Temporary. We will not take this loss sitting down. No more sadness. No more wallowing. Time to get back up on that horse (nod, nudge, wink). She is intense and the pure embodiment of determination. She reminds me that if we want this baby to happen we need to focus, commit and work at it. Work till we bleed. Let nothing stand in our way.

The Mother – Quick to jump on the momentum that The Type A has set in motion, The Mother talks about how much love she has yet to give. There is a hole in her heart that she knows is waiting for this little baby. Her emotional plea is compelling because she has such passion and such confidence. She talks about this baby as if it already exists. And it’s not just a baby. It’s a baby sister. It’s difficult to describe, but her words paint pictures of the safest, warmest and most loving scene that captivate me until I’m there, watching my two little girls giggle and play. I’m there. I’m sold. I’m hoping.

The Reluctant Masochist – That fantasy is then drowned in tears. The Reluctant Masochist is crying. Weepiness is her nature. Why would we try again? This dream only breeds pain? For someone trying to steer me away from pain, she sure like to relive it. Over and over and over again. Remembering the stress of cycle tracking. The pressure of performing on demand because the pee stick said so. The ridiculous staring at an obviously negative pregnancy test willing a stupid pink line to appear. The inevitable sadness that sets in on the first day of your period, succumbing to the reality of another month, lost another failure. And even if by chance we see those pink lines – can we endure another loss like this? Is this pain worth it? How can it be worth it? Let’s talk more about why this hurts…

The Nile – Not just a river in Egypt. The arguing rises up to the rafters. The walls crumble around her. The room is on fire and yet she sits motionless. Emotionless. It’s not that she doesn’t understand what everyone else is saying, it’s that she believes that since we are expected to move on and be normal we should just do that. She doesn’t even speak. She just sits there ignoring the rest. As if ignoring it will make it all go away. Her presence incites just about everyone in the room alike. Be pro baby making or be anti. But don’t act like none of this matters. Neutrality is not an option.

The Grudge – She actually gets physical with The Nile. ARE YOU BLIND? She asks incredulously. Do you not see them? They’re all pregnant. They don’t even have to try. (It’s not like that’s remotely true). But it is all she can see – the worst twisted version of life where everyone else has it all and she has nothing. They are having showers and babies! They get to have what we are working so hard to have. And us? What do we get? We get to watch. She covets. She has lost sight of what she has because she can’t see through the pain. Do you see what this impossible dream is costing us? She looks at The Dragon for validation.

The Dragon – Her name is an ode to Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 5 (duh). On the outside she seems composed, but the rage is written all over her face. She is recalling her losses. She remembers all of the things she’s sacrificed. She is penalized when she plays along. She’s alienated when she stands on her own. Why must she FIGHT for every inch? The happiness of others is an affront to her pain. The world goes on and seemingly, purposefully ignorant and intolerant of her pain. A rumble gives way to a roar. It begins to boil over. If there is no room for her dream, there is no room for any dream. Burn it down. All of it. Dracarys.

The Pragmatist – Emotions are running high but The Pragmatist has absolutely no time for it. Objectively, she agrees that the world is ignorant of our pain. Crying out in sadness or anger will not change that. The reality is that we’ve been trying unsuccessfully for a long time. The reality is that we are not young and our body is effectively working against us. And she asks the group… Throughout this desire to add to our family have we really considered the ramifications? Probably not without emotional bias. Do we really have the money for another? Do we have space? We are already tired. Are we prepared to give up sleep and time to ourselves forever? She continues down an unending list of “Are we ready..” 

The Shame Nun – She cares less about the list and whether we are ready for another baby, and more about how we are failing with just one. Another nod to GOT, she’s very clear that having such a strong focus on this baby and this loss all but ensures our failure in other aspects of life. As if we need reminding… How much time are you spending with your horse Sebastian? Are you as successful as you want to be at your job? Shame. Remember that weight you’d like to lose? How often are you carving out time to exercise? While we’re at it, didn’t you eat a Poptart for lunch today? Shame. Is your actual daughter potty trained? And isn’t she sleeping in your bed each night? Shame. If your kid is in your bed, where’s your husband? Seems like you’re not making enough time for him either. Forget this fool’s quest and try not to suck at the rest of your life. Shame.

The Paul McCartney – Let it be… she says calmly. All of this, it doesn’t help. You’re only fighting yourself (get it?) Just let go. Let it be. This is the part where she starts humming gently… “When the broken-hearted people living in the world agree. There will be an answer, let it be. And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me. Shine until tomorrow, let it be.” It’s okay to wish for more and feel uncertain about the future. It’s time to relinquish control to find stillness and a new perspective. Let it be.

See? It’s a complicated question. I’m a complicated person. So if you ask me how I am, please have patience as I struggle to find the right words amidst all the chatter in my head. Because okay, fine and good are not the words. Truth is, there is no “one word” answer because all of these personalities and emotions make up who I am. I am determined. I’m hopeful. I feel sad. Sometimes I hide. I’m jealous. I am angry. I can be rational. I feel guilty. I am calm.

So that’s how I’m doing. They’re all me. I’m all of them. And it’s pretty fucking loud in here.