Monday, April 6, 2009

Too much information

It has been quite some time since I have been in a place where I have over-saturated myself with grief reading. After Charlotte died, particularly since at that time there was not this amazing community of bloggers and commenters and supporters and friendship available, I was absolutely starving for other people's stories, and I read as much as I could, as much as I could find. But while I found great solace in the idea of not being alone, there was the other side-effect of all the grief reading, which was that I learned about a thousand and three different ways to lose a baby.

The irony is, what with blogs being available, is that there were, at the time, some online resources, but I quickly found those to be useless to me. They listed name after name of dead baby, and dates, and causes of death, but there was no emotion attached, no person, just a death and a number and they piled up, they piled up. Suddenly I felt not alone, but I also felt as if babies were dying everywhere-- and I couldn't know that. While I didn't want to feel isolated, I wanted friends who were like me-- people who I could know a little, who could lend their stories to me so I didn't feel so all-by-myself. So I had cast aside the web as a resource, and turned to books-- seeming more intimate and detailed than what was then available online.

And they were, they filled me with sadness and helped me to lift myself by seeing that others had walked in my shoes, had struggled as I had. But there did come a point, particularly when I was getting more and more pregnant with Liam, where I decided that enough was enough. I was grieving, true, and I did feel alone, but what these books were now doing were scaring me. They were teaching me new ways to die every day, and this was adding to my aresenal of points against the baby growing in my womb, and so I quit the grief books, and I wondered if I would ever return to them.

It was not surprising to me, then, when a member of my support group arrived last week with a short stack of books. "I'm done with grief reading for a while," she told me, and I nodded knowingly. I recalled to her that the same thing had happened to me, and then as she handed the books to me I spotted one on the top that I had heard about, a recent book about a support group called "The Good Grief Club" (Monica Novak). I had been curious to read it and told her so, and I fished it out of the pile and put it into my bag.

Now it goes without saying that while luck has not been on my side and perhaps now is the time in my life that I feel like about the biggest reproductive failure ever, I certainly have NOT pulled my card out of the baby pool. I hope beyond all hopes that I will one day birth another child, or two, and so I do find myself still in that mode of thinking. But I didn't expect this: I started to read the book, and I read it for a few nights, and then a few more, and then suddenly it was too much: I could not read anything more. These ones were premature, these ones died due to an incompetent cervix. There were chemical pregnancies, there were blighted ovums (ovi?), there were knots in cords, there were abrupted placentas. I could not take it. Suddenly it all started filtering back in. I realized that, while there have also been difficulties to this (jealousy, anyone?), being around a whole bunch of reproductively successful people (my current friends and community) has actually helped me to move out of the mode where everything seems like a likelihood. And then, reading this book, I felt sucked right back in. I was remembering it all, and I didn't like one bit of it.

So I put the book down. Maybe in a few months I'll pick it up again, and read a few more chapters, after I've forgotten what happened to everyone in the first half. But for now, I'd rather stay here in blog-land, and read individual people's stories, where the cause of death is part of their history, instead of their entire description, and where I can wrap myself up in the warmth of others who have the same feelings as I do, without feeling like all the babies are falling like an unsteady line of dominoes.

So thanks, bloggers all. Somehow coming at it from this angle brings so much comfort, and I realize why I quit reading all those books so long ago. Too much information.


Hope's Mama said...

I have a few half finished books for this reason too Carol.
I know exactly what you mean about hearing about the losses that were different and earlier to ours. Ours were bad enough, its hard to hear about all those other awful ways you can lose your baby.

Shannon said...

I agree, I haven't read any of those grief books in a while, the last one was "The Christmas Box" that I got at one of your meetings.

I've really missed you, and by you I mean your wonderful, eloquent posts, it's good to be back from vacation, healthy once more and ready to try again.

A quick note about the article in the paper: Aside from being pissed that they wouldn't print Charlotte's picture, it baffles me that they are publishing an article about your group which never would have formed if not for Charlotte and yet they won't recognize her by printing her picture. It seems to contradict the point of the whole thing.