People I love, people that love me, offer support. And I nod, and make the appropriate gracious comments, but inside my head a different dialogue rages:
I didn't just have a miscarriage, I had a second trimester miscarriage. I didn't just have a second trimester miscarriage, I had two second trimester miscarriages. I didn't just have two miscarriages, I had four miscarriages. Yeah, I have two living children but one of them has an incurable birth defect.
I have it worse. I have it worse. I have it worse. Don't tell me you understand, you with your single 6 week miscarriage. That is nothing, NOTHING compared to this. You can never understand my pain.*** ***
In the waiting room at the clinic, I sit for hours. I have sent Lance home to be with the kids, told him I'd call him when it is over and I need a ride home. We got here at 3:30, now it is two hours later, and the receptionist guesses that it will be close to 8pm before I am done.
There is another family waiting, too--the father, I assume, and then two older women. After a few hours I think I have it figured out: father, his mother-in-law, and his mother. His wife is in with the doctors and I can't quite put together if she is here for an elective late term abortion, or if she, like me, just needs a dead baby removed. I don't ask questions of them, and they don't of me--it is awkward, if I am grieving and they are only here for relief--we don't want to make the wrong assumption.
Finally we grouse about the long wait, about how cold it is, why can't the magazines be up to date, jeez, if we have to wait so long it sure would be nice to have a TV in here. The mother-in-law tells me, eventually, that this is their third day here. I understand, from the muted undertones, not from anything explicit, that this is not an abortion. "It's her first pregnancy", she explains, "that's why it takes three days." "This is my seventh" I say ruefully, and her eyes widen as she gasps, "Seven miscarriages?" I try to correct her, "No, no, only my fourth mis . ." but at the same time the nurse has come into the waiting room, is corralling all of them back into the recovery room, and I'm not sure she hears me.
But I get a thrill then, when I see the shock in her eyes. A little glimmer of--what, exactly? I'm not sure, because it is gone as soon as it appears. But I do know that it felt good, and I so badly want to feel good again.
As everyone knows, the problem with the Pain Olympics is that when you finally win, when you finally walk up to the podium and accept your trophy, that's when you realize that it's really Freaky Friday Backwards Day, because the true winner of the Pain Olympics is actually the biggest loser of all. And if you've been really playing with skill, then on top of the trophy, you get the enviable prize of alienating all the people that have been trying to help you.
I don't mean to participate, really I don't. But if I agree that your pain equals mine, and you seem to be over yours, then logically I must get over mine, too. And I am not ready to do that, not yet. I want to feel that thrill I felt at the clinic, however sick it may be. I want to shock you with my pain. And part of me feels like if I just scream loud enough, then maybe I can reach the right person, the one who will be able to make this all go away.
I am not finished screaming, I am not ready to give up my spot on the team. I know you are trying to help me but I do not have the words to thank you. All I can do is ask you to try harder.