Posted by: DD | February 21, 2007

no. 388 – I’ll be Damned

I have had some pretty crappy advice and comments handed to me over the past in relationship to our infertility and miscarriages. They are equally spread out between friends, family and even strangers. They range in ignorance, from the outwardly rude (“I don’t know why you bother trying," said by my MIL after our 3rd miscarriage) to the painfully innocent (“It’s God’s will," said by just about every one after each of the three miscarriages).

But I have to admit that I never felt as if these comments were made maliciously or with the intent to hurt me. Their ignorance has made me angry on the inside, but I accept that if nothing else, they are only trying to reach out in their own way. We are only human after all, and as such, not everyone has the experience sometimes necessary to “say the right thing”. I’m not that cruel to wish this misery on anyone just so they can “get it”.

So we try to educate our friends and families, whether it’s through our blogs, or letters, or one-on-one discussions, on what is the “right” thing to say. And wow! Someone actually listened. Someone out there who had some clout went out and created some “coping” cards for couples facing infertility and miscarriage.

And guess what?

We get pissy about that, too.

I understand that having our bodies totally fuck us in all the wrong ways makes us angry and bitter. I am very angry and very bitter. No more or no less than any of us struggling through infertility. But I don’t understand why when someone attempts something new, something we’ve grumbled about being ignored in the past, we still gnash our teeth.

I have several sympathy cards from my first miscarriage. I didn’t need one specifically stating, “Hey, sorry your unborn baby died during your second trimester. That must really suck.” But if someone had given me one of these new cards, I would have been just as moved as I was when I received the one that was blank except for the “I’m sorry” written inside. It shows that someone was thinking enough about my pain to go and pick out a damn card. It could have said “Congratulations on you new job!” and I still would have been touched.

On my third miscarriage? I didn’t get shit. I even joked with a couple of co-workers that they should get me a card. Even one with a naked guy on it to help pick me up. Guess what? They didn’t and maybe it’s because I wasn’t “serious” enough. Kudos to the pregnant co-worker who was the only one in my office who acknowledged my miscarriage by submitting a comment on my blog.

Maybe you all think this attempt with the cards was stupid or ill conceived. I don’t. I’m not embarrassed to admit that sometimes it really is the thought that counts. And I know there were some others out there who also thought it was a good idea…until there was some ridicule and now tunes are being changed. The only negative observation I have is that who else besides those of us who read about it in the news or blogs would ever think to get one? I can’t think of one person IRL who’s going to walk into Hallmark and say, "Do you have anything for someone going through donor intra-uterine insemination because of male-factor infertility?"

Why should we expect these corporations to even bother trying? They go from hearing "Pay attention to us! Just because we’re infertile doesn’t mean we aren’t regular consumers!" to "Why are you mocking us? How dare you make money off of our misery!"

Damned if they do; damned if they don’t.

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Responses

  1. I thought the cards were fine. I think they are a step forward toward recognizing real pain in folks lives. Are they “perfect”? No, but nothing in this life is.

    I really don’t get why folks are getting pissy about this…Do they think our RE’s aren’t making a buck off our misery, too? Ever seen the doctors’ parking lot at your local hospital? Not too many Hondas but a heck of a lot of Beemers, Mercedes and other high end vehicles. Seems like someone’s making a dime off someone else’s misery there too…

  2. I thought the cards were fine. I think they are a step forward toward recognizing real pain in folks lives. Are they “perfect”? No, but nothing in this life is.

    I really don’t get why folks are getting pissy about this…Do they think our RE’s aren’t making a buck off our misery, too? Ever seen the doctors’ parking lot at your local hospital? Not too many Hondas but a heck of a lot of Beemers, Mercedes and other high end vehicles. Seems like someone’s making a dime off someone else’s misery there too…

  3. I thought the cards were fine. I think they are a step forward toward recognizing real pain in folks lives. Are they “perfect”? No, but nothing in this life is.

    I really don’t get why folks are getting pissy about this…Do they think our RE’s aren’t making a buck off our misery, too? Ever seen the doctors’ parking lot at your local hospital? Not too many Hondas but a heck of a lot of Beemers, Mercedes and other high end vehicles. Seems like someone’s making a dime off someone else’s misery there too…

  4. I thought the cards were fine. I think they are a step forward toward recognizing real pain in folks lives. Are they “perfect”? No, but nothing in this life is.

    I really don’t get why folks are getting pissy about this…Do they think our RE’s aren’t making a buck off our misery, too? Ever seen the doctors’ parking lot at your local hospital? Not too many Hondas but a heck of a lot of Beemers, Mercedes and other high end vehicles. Seems like someone’s making a dime off someone else’s misery there too…

  5. I thought they were actually pretty well done. If they’ve gotten so into the niche marketing of specific cards to have one that says “congratulations for using the potty!” (no lie; I saw it the other day) then I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a miscarriage/IF specific line.

  6. While I do think a general “I’m sorry” is most effective, I am quite sure that I’ll be desperately needing one of those specialty pet death sympathy cards soon. I used to think they were whacky, but I’m feeling the need now. Hence, who am I to say about IF ones? They might be as mainstream as pet ones soon.

  7. I could probably knock up one of those cards up on Photo.shop but I don’t know I’d have the nerve to send one to anyone! Thing is, its all personal isn’t it, what one person needs to hear from another person after a loss differs from one person to the next. I kinda get that although people want to say or do something they just don’t know what it is you need to hear, so they don’t!

    I personally feel the “it’s the thought that counts” important to me. Even if nothing is said or done, if I know they meant well, its enough.

    X

  8. At my old work we had 2 people in my department suffer from miscarrages. One even had surgery due to an ectopic. Both women already had 1 child and in one case it was not her first miscarriage. In both cases, flowers were sent. I’m sorry your co-workers didn’t do more for you. 😦

  9. I like the cards, but then I’m one of those people who send cards when I am at a loss for words. As silly as it is, when we had our yellow lab put to sleep we got several cards, and I treasured each one. He was, after all, a member of our family. I was in pain and it was nice that others recognized that pain.

  10. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”
    How very true. No one can ever win…

  11. Thanks DD – I went to the website, read the cards, and bawled. Hallmark, of all things, made me feel loved today, and I would’ve been so touched to get one of these cards. So many of our friends are in avoidance mode because they don’t know what to say – it’s nice that there are now cards that can fill in the blanks for them.

  12. I don’t think I ever got anything except heart felt apologies for my miscarriage. Then again, I really checked out when I had them, so it may just be that I don’t remember.

    And those cards creep me out. I don’t know why, but they do.

  13. I can honestly say that I did not like the empty nest card. There was something about that one that rubs me the wrong way. But the rest of them? I think they’re pretty ok. I like the thought that went into them. I like the idea that, for once, a company really sees us.

  14. I thought they were fine, certainly a heck of a lot better than nothing. Which is what came before…

    And you are so right…”Damned if they do; damned if they don’t” seems to apply to just about everything these days.

  15. I think you’re absolutely right. I’m more of the buy a blank card and fill in my own message for any occasion kind of person, but some people just can’t do that.
    And the fact that those cards are out there now, for people to consider, so they maybe have some idea that they are NEEDED, that’s a step in the right direction.

  16. A naked man card? Would that really help? Seriously, I’m taking notes here. I’m the person who says the wrong thing, does the wrong thing and reacts in an inappropriate way. This post is educational for people like me, who really need to know what we can do when the people we love are in a kind of pain that we have never experienced. I’ll probably stay away from the “coping” cards because they’ve gotten mixed response from your readers. I guess I’d go for the simple “I’m sorry” or maybe…the naked man.
    Thanks. This helps so much.

  17. Dear DD, I was torn about those cards too. Because I don’t really like pre-printed cards anyway — at least not the ones with an epic poem or novel on the front. For really sad occasions, I always hoped that people would write something in their own words, even if it’s short, even if it’s often hard. But in this case, I’m at least glad the cards are out there — maybe at least someone will come across them by accident and learn something.

  18. I’ve had 3 m/c myself and I still don’t know what to say to someone. While I know not to just pretend it didn’t happen (isn’t that the worst) I just manage to stammer I’m sorry and then look sheepish. I’m going to order some of those cards to have on hand. Because, unfortunately, miscarriage is so freakin’ common I can bet someone I know will have one in the next six months.

  19. I think that it is a universal hardship to come up with something meaningful to say when someone experiences a loss. You don’t want to be one of the many who say “I’m sorry.” but you also don’t want to say the wrong thing. There really isn’t anything you can really say to make things better. I suppose you have to give credit to those who at least try. Many people simply fade away from your life because they can’t handle it. I know that the loss of my mental health (which I’m not comparing to the loss of a child born or unborn) has cost me several relationships ~ even within my family of origin. It’s as if there are actually people who say to themselves “If I don’t acknowledge this person’s loss or hardship then it can’t happen to me.” They can bury their heads in the sand all they want. At some point life is going to kick them where it counts. The only people that should be burned in a public arena are those who feel that their moral or social superiority is what keeps them from the same experiences. Fuck all haughty people!

  20. I was a little taken aback by some of the negative reaction to these cards as well.

    I think it’s a great thing that is happening. It’s by no means the “perfect” solution to what you say to someone when they have had a pregancy lost, but I think they provide really good examples of things that are more appropriate to convey in words a person who has never suffered a miscarriage may not think of to say it. So many times, I think people say “it’s for the best” or something similar because those are the only examples of what to say that they have encountered. Well, with these cards, now they have better examples of what to say.

  21. I’m not a card person, so I could care less one way or the other, but I do have to say that the cards that meant the most to me (regardless of the occasion) were usually the blank ones in which the sender had written something from her own heart.

  22. I took a look at some of the cards and thought most were pretty cool. It’s nice to see the card behemoth go out on a limb a little with something beyond the generic. And something besides rhyming, metered fricking prose! (My personal pet peeve.)
    I got cards (and even flowers from my boss) after both my miscarriages. I’m sorry it wasn’t the same for you. I don’t know why miscarriage seems to make so many people uncomfortable. Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?” and MEAN it? And then follow through?


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