Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ghost Whisperer, Loss, Empathy

I was watching Ghost Whisperer Friday night. It was a new one. The main character, Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is trying to get pregnant ... in addition to her ghostly duties, of course. The show is making it seem as if she and her husband have been TTC for a good five months or so and the episode before Friday's left the viewer wondering if the tired, dizzy, and nauseous Melinda was indeed knocked up.

Friday's episode opened with her in a doctor's office gown sitting on a doctor's table with her husband dressed in his paramedic's uniform standing behind her. The doctor comes in and tells her that she is not pregnant and she and her husband Jim agree. "We figured that out after the 10 negative pregnancy tests," Melinda whimpers.

She tries not to get too emotional, Jim tries to comfort his wife.

The doctor tells them that they should worry less because they indeed were pregnant, but it didn't stick, and that he was going to run some tests and they would figure out what happened and what they can do in the future to assure she gets pregnant and stays pregnant.

I wasn't happy with this because why would she get 10 negative HPT's? Wouldn't her beta's or whatnot have registered on the HPT's even if she had recently m/c'd too? And wow, her doctor rocks to be running tests and shit with her first and only m/c, after only trying for five months to get pregnant. All while people like me - in the real world - have to endure two or more m/c's before a doctor will look further into things. But it's a television show and at least they're trying to approach the subject.

The remainder of the show carried on, with a few moments throughout where Melinda was touched by the love two mother's were showing. Then the closing of the show: Melinda comes home and tearfully tells Jim that she saw these mother's love their child so incredibly much even though they knew that the child they were loving and raising wasn't biologically theirs. She then asks Jim if he would consider Adoption should they not be able to conceive and he says that he of course would consider it but that he ran into the doctor. And poof, the doctor prescribed some hormone drug that Melinda will take and will allow the baby to stick next time. They smile and tears are in their eyes and they hug and the show ends.

Because it's as simple as that. Ack!

I was happy to see a show touch on this subject. It's nice to see some reality out there. But hot damn, it sucks they have to make it seem like you just take a pill and everything is going to be OK.

Sure I'm a little sensitive about it all but with as common as miscarriages are these days, it would be nice if more women who endure them were able to believe and realize that they aren't some sort of freak show or something. And it might help with others who've never dealt with miscarriage or a loss to be more empathetic towards those of us who've gone through it. Because if there's one thing I've learned the past three months regarding pregnancy loss vs. people who haven't experienced it is that telling someone you are sorry and saying that you feel for them is not the same as being empathetic; saying it out loud doesn't matter when every other thing you do implies that saying it once is enough for someone who's had a loss to move on.

I can understand that some people who haven't endured a loss (at any stage) might view an early loss as something that isn't as ... painful (or whatever)... than that of an actual baby loss. I can understand that. I mean I certainly cannot - for one minute - completely fathom what it's like to give birth to a child, to be able to hold a child, look at him, touch him... and then lose him. I cannot fathom. I cannot pretend to fathom. And my heart aches just thinking about it; however, that doesn't mean that those of us who've suffered a loss at a much earlier stage don't endure pain, too.

And that's what I think some people think about... I think they think that since the baby wasn't fully formed and/or born, it must be easier for us to heal.

Well, it's not.

We all deal with pain and loss differently. I think most of us as human beings can appreciate that.

I don't know what my point is exactly. :(

I guess in my disappointment with some people who I'm extremely close with and who knew of my loss, I was hoping for a little more empathy than one, "I'm so sorry." Yeah, I'm sure you were sorry but just because you never mention it again doesn't mean I'm suddenly OK with everything. How hard is it - despite what's going on in your own life - to ask every so often how someone is when you know they've gone through something rough?

I know it's not a comfortable subject. I get that you don't want someone to hurt even more by bringing something up that was painful. But you don't have to. You don't have to even mention the loss; I promise! Just simply send an email asking how the person is doing, asking what they've been up to. And don't make it about you. Just one email, one phone call a week or a month - and make it about them. That's empathy... showing someone else that you care about them, that you're there to listen to them, that you want to help ease some pain without making it about you.

And that can really impact someones life.


Please note that I'm not trying to be passive aggressive with this post. I'm in a much better place these days regarding my loss, regarding moving my life forward. I think it's because of this that I'm able to write more freely and openly regarding what it was like to endure a miscarriage - and go through it basically alone. I've always been a very private person, always lacking trust in others. So it's not uncommon for me to keep all of this to myself, to work through all of this on my own. That's a part of who I am and I do not blame any one person for this fact about myself. I do not ask for help, I try to do it on my own.

That said, I realize this post may reflect that not one person was there for me the past three months... and that is the farthest thing from the truth. While there were a couple key people in my life that have never really mentioned the loss since they found out, for the most part, everyone else who knew tried to reach out to me on more than one occasion. And it's because of those people that I was able to learn that it may be about time that I let some of my guard down... that it's OK to show some vulnerability at times.


Kimz said...

Very good post Christina! I hope you know I think of you often and check in all the time. I do find it amazing that miscarriage and loss are still basically a hush-hush topic and this really needs to change so people stop making such ignorant statements or thinking that it's not a big deal.

Angie said...

I saw that episode and was so, so mad. I agree, they're at least touching on the subject, but a magic pill won't make everything all better.

Kelli said...

I've said the same thing about people keeping in touch as well. If they don't know what to say, send an email or a text and just frickin say "How are you?"
I agree, I think people don't acknowledge that an early miscarriage is a loss of a baby. I probably was slightly stupid in thinking something along those lines before my loss. But now I really understand and your loss was very much real, very much a baby. You have every right to be mad at people who don't acknowledge that.
One thing I can say is that even when the baby is born (albeit still) and you have pictures and you get to hold them, people still try to sweep it under the rug. They just want to pretend it didn't happen. I really understand your frustration, I just want people to acknowledge that Erickson existed. I'm sure you just want people to acknowledge the fact your baby existed too.

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