Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Little Triggers

This is Spirit Week at school -- every day you wear something different, usually something comfy, in the name of Homecoming Spirit. Yesterday was Pajama Day, my favorite of the days. Although all my cute pajamas are highwater, so I wore the most drab cozy clothes I had, apparently. A teacher actually said to me, "If that's what you're wearing to bed, your husband must have complaints." I clarified that that's what I wear BEFORE bed, and what I wear TO bed is no one's business! Har har. Also, every time it's Pajama Day I have a horrible feeling on my drive in that I've screwed up and it's not actually that day, and I will look awfully schlumpy and be the only schlumpy one. Thank goodness this hasn't happened yet, but it's only a matter of time, in my twisted little head. Only I could stress about PAJAMA DAY.

Today was Twin Day. I found myself in a fix -- I hadn't planned ahead enough to find a twin, and no one had asked me, and the people I would ask were pregnant. (So many pregnant people at school right now...) So while it might be funny to stuff a ball under my shirt and dress like a twin, that's just not appropriate. So, I wore a T-shirt that I have seen many staff and students wearing and knew that somewhere, in the masses of people young and not-so, I would have a twin.

The T-shirt was part of a fundraiser for a student who passed away last year from cancer. The front says "Crush Cancer" and the back has her name held in a heart made from hands. She was a high school student and even as she was dying she ran fundraisers and raised money for our local children's hospital through concerts and special events. This shirt has a lot of meaning behind it, and sure enough there were a handful of them in the halls.

I had a training at the other middle school this afternoon, and to beat the buses I left a bit early and grabbed a luxurious mid-day coffee on my way. The cashier at the coffee place asked me about my shirt, "I'm new to this town, and I keep seeing it."

I tried my best to explain it, that it honored a student who had passed away from cancer who fought all the way to the end and thought of others the whole time through her fundraising efforts. I hoped I spoke well, because the community I teach in is tight and I was sure someone who knew this amazing young lady could possibly be nearby. I always choke up when I talk about it, because HOW CAN YOU NOT?

As my latte was being made, a woman that was sitting at a nearby table with a laptop brought it over, open with a picture of two girls in a tree, and said,
"Here's a picture to go with the story. My daughter was good friends with her. Here is her beautiful face."
And she started to cry.

I felt terrible, because my shirt was a reminder of a terrible sad moment that I imagine you never really get over. The death of a child is horribly unfair and just...wrong. I apologized, and she said,

"I don't know why this is making me so sad. I mean, I know, but I haven't been this sad about it in such a long time. Sometimes things just bring that up again, you know?"

"I know. Actually, I know." I said, tearing up as the woman explained how as an adult, you can sort of understand loss, but how heartbreaking it was to try to help her teenage daughter understand the loss of her close friend, and to see the pain and devastation that continues to haunt them.

It stuck with me.

Because while I did not personally know this young lady, and I am not grieving the loss of my friend, or a daughter, I know what it is like to have a trigger suddenly bring you back to a moment of pain and loss that overwhelms you and make you cry in a coffee shop. My loss is different from grieving a person in particular. I am grieving all the people that might have been, I am grieving the loss of the past five years trying to make this happen and failing epically, I am grieving the loss of the person I was before I constantly had to bounce back from heartbreak after heartbreak. But it is still a loss, and these moments happen for me, too.

For me, it is a pregnancy announcement I wasn't expecting. It's a poorly handled infertility subplot in an otherwise hilarious novel. It is a kind word in the middle of the day from another teacher, telling me how heartbroken she is that this still isn't working out. It's a moment of silence in my car thanks to my broken radio, that lets my mind wander to a landscape of grief that's way too easy to access right now.

Most of the time I can be ok, but those triggers come and all that pain bubbles up and through the cracks where I'm trying to put things together again. I felt so horribly bad to have been an inadvertent trigger for this woman who had suffered a loss of a beautiful soul, because I know how a moment like that can suddenly turn...where you're having a perfectly fine day, you're all patched up, and then something unexpected takes your breath away and puts you right back in that moment that's only slightly scabbed over.

Being in public helps, because I can't just keep sinking. I have to be a normal human and be a person who my students can rely on. I was sad in my car today at a stoplight, and a busful of middle schoolers in front of me waved frantically and then got so excited when I waved back. That'll bring you out of a teary slump.

I think I will feel better when I have dates in front of me. Right now everything is a little ambiguous. I know I'm finally on the Pill, and so a hysteroscopy will be happening sometime in the next three weeks. I know that most likely, my transfer will be in late October. It might get pushed to November depending on the Femara/Follistim balance, but whatever. I give up trying to plan on this nonsense. Every single cycle has had some kind of snafu. Once I have that plan in my hands I will feel so much better, even if I look at it only as a rough outline. Which is not to say that these moments when the floor gets pulled out from under you unexpectedly won't continue to happen. I'm sure it will. I just hope that every day I am a little more equipped to get back up quickly, to wipe the tears away and smile, to focus on the hope ahead and not the piles of sadness behind.


  1. So many things are beautiful about this post, Jess....your words, your thoughts, your honesty.

    1. Thank you, Kelsey. I hope your school year is off to a great start!

  2. I'm a little late in reading this, but I wanted to comment on the t-shirt wearing making people sad... I love seeing people wearing the t-shirts we've made in memory of our twins. It reminds me of how many people they have touched. It can be triggering, but so many things are anyway... Keep wearing that t-shirt and honoring that amazing girl!

    1. Thank you, Michelle! That means a lot to me, because I felt almost like wearing the T-shirt out and about was like wearing an emotional time bomb. Good to know that even if it is a trigger, the benefits of the outreach of this girl's influence outweigh the pain, hopefully. I WILL keep honoring that amazing girl! :)

  3. I found this post through the 2014 Creme de la Creme and just wanted to say that it really spoke to me. I can definitely identify with what you expressed regarding triggers (with both loss and with infertility). My experience is a bit different because I experienced a late-term loss but, although triggers are hard for me and probably always will be, sometimes they are welcome because they remind me that people did not forget my child. If someone mentions him it reconfirms for me that his life meant something and every one of you who wears that t-shirt reconfirms this young girl's life. You have nothing to feel bad about for that.

    HUGS to you for everything you have gone through during this long (and no doubt painful) IF journey. I really hope you will find happiness whether or not that route includes adoption. I am hoping for the best for you and your hubby.

  4. Lol. I stress about this, too! "every time it's Pajama Day I have a horrible feeling on my drive in that I've screwed up and it's not actually that day."

    Yeah. I'm over a decade past the IF days, and there is still the occasional trigger. And yet I'm still surprised when it happens.

    I wish for you that 2015 brings you much closer to your dreams and desires.