The pregnancy-baby plots

In the weeks after Mabel died, when Chris went back to work, it was still the dark cold winter and I was deep in my grief and shock. I spent a lot of time on the couch, watching tv. We don’t have cable- we rely on internet tv to get our fix- netflicks, hulu, hbo go, etc. I needed a show that would enrapture me. I got a few recommendations for Friday Night Lights- which did the job. I liked it a lot…except for the five separate pregnancy/baby plots! I was able to muddle through that but became careful of any future shows I committed to. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes less so. A friend recommended Sons of Anarchy- a show about a motorcycle gang. Seemed safe. Opening episode featured a preterm birth of a drug-addicted baby with severe heart defects- given a 10% survival rate. Guess what? Baby lived. I did not continue to watch that show. For my book group we watched the Noah movie in the theaters (yes, I know it’s a book group, but we alternate books and movies). I had to leave the movie early when a character goes into labor, crying because she doesn’t want her baby to be born, worried about it’s imminent death after birth. Watching Scandal, the political drama, I thought I was safe until the presidents wife decided to have a baby as a savvy political move (and got pregnant just like that, no less!)

I became sensitive to pregnancy/baby plots. Now almost 11 months later, I’ve lightened up a bit. I can watch some of these scenarios without a huge emotional reaction. But I can still be surprised. I guess, when it’s the shows that I don’t expect a baby plot that irk me now. I’m not overcome by sadness, just a bothered, annoyed. Most recently it has been Homeland. I’m catching up on past seasons and couldn’t imagine a baby in this fast paced, anti-terrorism show. So when a surprise pregnancy hit the scene, I was a little ticked off.

I guess that’s what shows are trying to do- hit you with the unexpected. I’m learning to accept- and I’m still watching Homeland, but I get to be annoyed, right?

How do you feel about baby plots in shows/movies/books?

Grieving expectations

I came home and Chris was in the middle of watching an episode of Walking Dead. We watched the first two seasons together, but then I somehow fell off- sometimes the intensity of the show got me a little too worked up. When we first started watching it, I couldn’t watch it when it was dark out of alone, that’s how much it creeped me out. Now Chris is a season and a half ahead of me, which is okay because we each have our own shows we watch when the other is not there. Having exhausted Friday night Lights early into my grief, I now am captivated by Scandal. I watch while on the elliptical.

This night I was working late, doing some evening hours in my office. When I came home he was in the middle of the episode, so we watched the rest together. There was a scene with two women and a baby. One asked the other “were there children?” trying to ascertain if she lost any family in the zombie outbreak. She nodded and then turned away from the woman who was holding the baby. A few moments later, after a messy spit up, the first woman practically thrusted the baby into the second woman’s reluctant arms so she could clean up. She held the baby at bay at first, but then brought her closer and cuddled her in a pool of tears. The first woman came back to witness the second woman’s grief and healing.

The scene angered me. I should be pleased that the show recognized the difficulty in baby loss and how a babyloss mother might feel in the presence of a small child- and I am pleased. I’m angered because I feel like that’s what’s expected of me. Of course, holding babies will be hard, but I should do it, have a good cry and then all will be well. I’ll hold babies again, no problem.

I think it tapped into feelings of guilt and shame I have about not wanting to hold babies. Technically I did hold one, but there are other babies I feel I need to hold (and if I dig deep emotionally, I want to want to hold them- does that make sense? Is that too many “wants?”). Family babies. The holidays are fast approaching and they are causing me so much anxiety. Holidays when I was supposed to have my baby. Holidays where there will be other family babies. This scene tapped right into my anxiety and self-consciousness around what is expected of me. Just hold the baby. Have a good cry. Have your emotional meltdown- you’ll feel better after. I imagine them thinking. (who is “them?” everyone! Family, friends, colleagues, everyone.) Well, I don’t want to. I’m not ready.

I am constantly told that there is no right way to grieve. But then why do I feel like I’m doing wrong after watching that scene?

Do you feel like you’re not living up to grieving expectations?