I know that everyone has thoughts that come along that they would rarely admit to as they point to a darker side within them. Nobody wants to acknowledge that they have a side of them that thinks things that are horrible and sometimes mean, let alone admit to other people that these thoughts occur.
I have had such thoughts this week, and as I mentioned in my last blog entry I thought long and hard about whether I should write about them and share them with you all. I have decided that being honest and sharing them is good for two reasons – firstly, by writing about them and acknowledging them I believe I will take away their power, and, secondly, by sharing them perhaps some of you who have had similar experiences will realise you are not alone.
So, here’s what happened…
There was a show in Australia from the late 1980s to the early 1990s called “Acropolis Now”, which was a comedy based on Greek heritage. One of the actors, Mary Coustas, played Effie and she was hysterically funny.
Last Sunday night, on a current affairs television show, Mary and her husband, George, shared their story about their difficulties in having a child. I didn’t see the show, but I read about it a few days later and I was naturally moved. They had tried for 10 years to have a child, and Mary had recently had a book published “All I know: a memoir of love, loss and life.”
Mary fell pregnant in 2010, when she was in her mid-forties. A scan revealed she was having fraternal twins. It would have been such a joyous occasion. But, at the nine week scan a third heartbeat was found. There were triplets – two paternal and one fraternal. But, was it good news?
Mary and George’s doctor was not happy and explained the risks of having three babies, especially when two of them were paternal. There are risks of cerebral palsy, low birth rate, and complications for the mother in terms of gestational diabetes, among others.
After consulting with five different specialists, Mary and George decided to do a reduction, where the twins would be aborted by having a substance injected to stop their hearts. They would die and would most likely be reabsorbed into Mary’s body.
The reduction was undertaken, but a few days later a scan revealed that one of the twins was still alive. They did another reduction.
There is a risk to the remaining baby when a reduction occurs, and sadly the remaining baby, a girl Mary and George called Stevie, was still born at 22 weeks.
The good news is that Mary is now pregnant again with one baby, due at the end of this year, and everything seems to be going well.
As I read the article and found out about the triplets, the reduction, the stillbirth of Stevie, the book and that Mary is now expecting again, I felt my rage growing stronger and stronger. I was fuming. I cried my eyes out in frustration and the unfairness of it all. What was it that bothered me?
Here is the dark part – my thoughts as they were then:
o It’s not fair that they got a multiple pregnancy when I can’t even get pregnant with one baby.
Then the reductions:
o How could they kill their own children?
o How come they got pregnant with three children, only to throw two of them away? Why couldn’t I have had them?
o How could they go through a second reduction? Why did the remaining twin have to die?
o It’s not fair that just because she’s famous she got her book published. And it’s a bit raw waiting to announce her pregnancy until after her book was released. What about my book and my experiences?
o Why did they get to hold Stevie when I never got to hold my children? I would give anything just to hold my children for just a little bit, instead of having only two black and white photos of embryos to remember them by.
o It’s not fair that they are pregnant again, when I can’t have a child and I have done nothing wrong.
So, I’m not always the understanding and compassionate person that I would rather the world think that I am.
These thoughts and questions and the associated feelings lasted into the next day. I was so ashamed to think that these were coming from me. How could I think so badly about someone I didn’t even know? I didn’t know their full story, and I know that they are not bad people – so where was all this coming from?
To be honest, I still don’t know where it all came from or why. I could say it was unacknowledged grief on my part, or that there’s a hidden rage within me at the unfairness that we can’t have a baby, or that I am frustrated that my experience seems to be less important than someone who is famous, or that…
I’m not sure it’s any of those reasons. I can’t make excuses for what I thought or how I felt. It was all what it was. The scariest part for me was that I didn’t know how I was going to break out of those negative and shameful thoughts and feelings. I hated it and I detested myself. It was like another me had taken me over and it was dark and cruel.
In the last few days I’ve learnt something more about compassion – something that I never realised before. Compassion isn’t always a natural response. Sometimes we have to make a decision to be compassionate. And that is what I realised I had to do. I had to decide to be compassionate.
So, I have been practicing this. I can never know what it would have been like to be in the position that Mary and George were in when they considered the risks of having triplets and then making the decision to do the reduction. I don’t understand the decision because I’ve never had to make it. But I can try to understand what a terrible decision it must have been for them to make. Having to choose one of your children over another must be one of the most heart wrenching experiences anyone could go through. I am so sorry that this happened to them. After reading more about their tragic experience I found out that they consulted five different specialists – it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. It wasn’t easy. They are not bad people – if anything they are people who truly wanted to do the best they could for their children. Thinking about it now I want to cry and I want to wrap my arms around all of them – Mary, George and the triplets.
In thinking about it – all the other thoughts and questions were secondary to my upset at the reduction. These were side-issues. It seemed as though Mary and George were being rewarded after they had the reduction – at least that’s what it felt like to me initially – and I didn’t understand why they were being rewarded for such an act.
But, they aren’t really being rewarded. I’m sure that, except for being pregnant again, Mary and George would give everything back just to have Stevie turning three this year.
I think I will finish this entry now. It’s been a long one. I realise there may be negative criticism about me after this post and I am open to it, but please remember that I am only human and I am being honest where I could have chosen to keep all this to myself.
There is still a hole in my heart which sometimes is filled with negative thoughts and emotions, but I am trying to fill it with love and compassion. It is not easy – but I am trying.
And – I have decided to read Mary’s book. I think it will be helpful for me, even if Mary and George’s story is different to mine and Kirby’s. No doubt I will write about it in a future blog entry.