Monday, April 2, 2018

#Microblog Monday: Assumptions



I am hosting book club next week (something I now have the seating to do thanks to our new living room furniture!), and I chose a book I'd read about, I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell.

It's subtitled, "Seventeen Brushes With Death," and it's such a fascinating concept -- a life told in nonlinear vignettes of moments where death was disturbingly near, titled by the part of the body that was endangered or to blame and accompanied by antique anatomical drawings.

I am almost finished, and I've really enjoyed it...with one notable exception.

I was not expecting the one that was titled "Baby and Bloodstream," a tale of miscarriage. I was doing okay up to a point and then I threw the book to the floor and started sobbing, and when Bryce asked me what was wrong and I couldn't really articulate it in my own words, I simply picked up the book and started to read this passage out loud:

"Why should we carry on as if it's nothing out of the ordinary? It is not ordinary to conceive a life and then to lose it; it's very far from ordinary. These passings should be marked, should be respected, should be given their due. It's a life, however small, however germinal. It's a collection of cells, from you and, in most cases, from someone you love. Yes, of course worse things happen every day; no one in their right mind would deny that. But to dismiss a miscarriage as nothing, as something you need to take on the chin and carry on, is to do a disservice to ourselves, to our living children, to those nascent beings that lived only within us, to the person we imagined throughout the short pregnancy, to those ghost children we still carry in our minds, the ones who didn't make it."

Let me repeat that one part:
"to our living children."

The assumptions there. (Not to mention that I'm not sure in most cases children are conceived between two people in love...very romantic idea, that, but is it really accurate?)

I get what she's saying in many ways, and I didn't hate all of it. I mean, somewhere in an alternate universe a child is turning five this week and he or she could have been ours, but here that child didn't make it out of size comparisons to seeds. I get the concept ghost children.

BUT I DON'T GET LIVING CHILDREN. There was no rainbow baby for me. I did not get the chance to have any living children; my losses weren't tragic bumps on the road to parenthood. And I am not alone in being left with nothing but ghost children to hold on to.

It was a double suckerpunch, one because I read on the flap that she had three children and didn't see a recurrent miscarriage story coming, and two because of this feeling that I got, perhaps because of the time of year, that living children are a given.

And they're not.

The next story featured getting pulled from shore in a riptide and a massive wave, so I was able to continue reading on without further book-throwing. I do recommend it, but know that there is quite the gut-punch waiting for you in the middle, around page 100. Honestly, you could probably skip that one since they're not super interwoven.

Sigh. Never a true escape from this.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

18 comments:

  1. No, not an escape. But one day, I hope, you'll read this, roll your eyes at the words "living children," and just move on, acknowledging the truth of the other words you quoted.

    I'll admit, I had to go back and read it again to find "living children" as I'd skimmed over that bit! Intentional or unintentional? lol

    Hugs.

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    1. I hope so...but it seems unlikely to me. It probably won't cause the torrent of tears, but I'll still grimace. I think. :) I have a knack for picking out books that have unadvertised infertility subplots.

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    2. That's the thing about healing - it always seems so unlikely. Until it happens. Hugs.

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  2. Fuck. I hate those unexpected gut punches. The book sounded really good up until that point. If I read it, I'll take your advice and skip that chapter. How are the crocuses doing?

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    1. Right? If I'm expecting it, then fine. But when it's such an unexpected stabbing, it just gets me. It is really, really good, but be warned IVF comes up in the last chapter. I felt a little less like throwing the book by then, but there was definitely an eye roll.

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    2. And the crocuses are hanging in there! The cold weather this week has them staying a bit more preserved than usual, they're still vibrant and not blowsy yet. :)

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  3. Sigh...I feel sucker-punched alongside you. Double whammy for sure. xoxo

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    1. Yup. That's the worst, when you don't know it's coming, and the book isn't supposed to be a suspense thriller. :(

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  4. Such a difficult, emotional subject. I wonder if it would have been different if she had said “my” living children instead of “our”. That dang royal we. Sorry it was a reminder of your loss.

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    1. Right? And it's her life, and her experience, and I get that -- but I SO AGREE that if she had just said "my" instead of "our" it would have felt so much less presumptuous and infuriating. Make it personal. Don't assume that your experience is everyone's experience. Argle Blargle. Pronouns are everything!

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    2. This. "My" living children would have been better. I'm sorry Jess. That's a gut punch. We all know so well children are never a given.

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  5. I am wondering the same thing Torthuil. If it said "my" then there is no assumption that everyone who has a miscarriage automatically goes on to have other living children. Either way, I'm sorry that the chapter was a difficult one to read. I have read good reviews on this book otherwise and it is an interesting premise.

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    1. YES! Absolutely. If it had been kept personal, been kept to her own experience and not globalized, I wouldn't have been quite as upset. I mean, it still would have been surprising but there are other books that have a chapter on pregnancy loss that didn't have this effect on me. I think it's the timing, and the pronoun usage pointing to a generalization that just isn't true.

      It was really good -- the last chapter also references infertility and IVF, and then there's a part where she sort of scoffs at gluten allergy people "getting bloated when they eat some bread" and that they in no way understand her daughter's anaphylaxis when they say they get the need to be careful. I mean, can't you express frustration without being mean to another group of people? And celiac is actually not a gluten allergy, and it does a hell of a lot more than cause a little bloat. But yeah, it's not anaphylaxis.

      Other than that it was great! :)

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  6. Okay, PSA -- the last chapter also mentions infertility and IVF and her situation is very unusual and could be a little triggery too. But that last chapter wasn't a Throw-The-Book type reaction, so I'm just giving you a heads up! :)

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  7. I'm sorry you had a gut-punch moment. :( On the bright (?) side, you have some great points to make in front of your book club, if you choose to do so..! I'd be curious if anyone else in your group has anything to say about this chapter, &/or her IVF/infertility experiences.

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    1. It will be interesting, for sure! I'm thinking maybe I'll wait to bring up that particular chapter. So awkward, the last book I chose (when I hosted at a restaurant, which meant no frantic house-cleaning, hmmmm) was "The Girl On The Train" which also had an infertility subplot. A theme... I think this might be interesting because while my group may not have an extensive IVF background, I'm sure there are miscarriage experiences. It will be interesting.

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  8. I'm sorry you had to go through this. This is a book I will not be reading. Seems like this author is apathetic to the feelings of others.
    dropping by from MicroblogMondays

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    1. Yeah, it's so good in so many ways, but that chapter definitely felt like "My Lens Is Everyone's Lens" and was a bit apathetic to others with different outcomes, yes. Thanks for stopping by!

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