Desiderium: an Aching Desire for the Way It Used to Be

A graphic representation of the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day ribbon in pink and blue with butterflies flying away and baby footprints underneath
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance ribbon

Desiderium: An ardent desire or longing especially a feeling of loss or grief for something lost. A yearning, specifically for a thing one once had, but has no more.

Grief for Something Lost

I have desiderium. There are aspects in my life I wish I could get back. There are things I miss. Things which once were true that will never be again. Things which have changed due to injury or illness or circumstances of life.

One aspect is my expectations of married life. What I thought it would be like to be married to the military and in his retirement from service. That stereotypical “American Dream” of a house with two kids and a picket fence. But that really isn’t my dream. It is what I was conditioned to believe I would want. What I really want is a healthy husband.

Another aspect I miss is that military wife life. As difficult as it was, there was a sense of belonging that I have not yet found in civilian life. There is an unspoken bond all military spouses have. We just know what it is like. Much like those who have experienced or are caring for those who have brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You just know how life is sometimes without having to say a word.

Finding My Place in the World

We are lucky. We have various circles of friends and are still making those connections now, outside of the military life. Sure many of our friends are veteran families, some may still be active, but many of our friendships arose through our interest in the arts, living history, or gaming.

This did not come easy. It takes effort and time to make and keep a friendship. I am grateful for all those folks who have stuck around during the bad times as well as the good. Friends like those are what kept me going through some very difficult deployments. They were also there when my husband’s PTSD symptoms were at their worst. When I felt I was alone, I would get a call or a text and I was able to talk it out. Maybe they had experienced the same with their spouse and offered advice, or could simply listen without judgement. As I reflect on those moments I realize how much they saved me.

That Pit in My Stomach

Some things which can never be are my angel babies. I am not a religious person, per say, but I have no other term for my children who never were. I carried them for a short time, but I lost them. My body rejected them. No. My body attacked them. It was nine long years of what I would finally be diagnosed with, “Unexplained Fertility.” So helpful, right? What am I supposed to do with that? Frequent recurrent pregnancy loss. Another great thing to read about myself but no real explanation of what it all meant. The cruelest riddle.

Nine years of trying and failing. Countless nights of tears and anguish. All those terrible painful fertility medications. Monthly cycles where I thought I was dying. Panic attacks thanks to those added hormones. An “adjustment disorder” diagnosis because none of the doctors would listen to me or be honest with me. At one appointment I actually had a male fertility specialist ask me if I knew how to conceive. Yup. I do. Birds. Bees. A stork. Plus, my husband had two children before meeting me, so yes, we understand. How dare you!

After years and years of all those appointments recounting my losses, medications, tracked cycles, taking my temperature, timings, and impatience-laden months… waiting on results, waiting until my husband returned from one of many deployments, waiting to see if he could delay this training for just a week so we could baby dance. No more.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

Miscarriage is common. According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a loss. That we know. If my body is any indication, you might have been pregnant and not know it. What you might think are irregular periods and heavy, maybe painful, flow might actually be a miscarriage.

Those who have suffered such a loss not only suffer physical pain but may also face emotional trauma which may eventually lead to post-traumatic stress. Fathers can experience this grief and trauma too. Mothers and fathers who have experienced loss, I see you and I hold you in my heart. Take care of yourselves and each other. Take time to grieve at your own pace.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is October 15. On this day my husband and I take a moment to honor our losses and celebrate our lives. So many families never get the chance to hold a baby in their arms. So many couples never solve the riddle. The next time you stop to ask a couple, “When are you going to have kids?” Please think again. Lead with kindness. Even though you may consider it an innocent question, it can be a painful topic for so many.

Hope in the Strangest Places

I am so proud to say that we solved our infertility riddle by changing my diet. Yes, really. I have always had allergies and food intolerances but never considered a diet change would make the difference. Who knew gluten was the culprit? One month after giving up gluten we were scheduled to get an intrauterine insemination (IUI). We never made it to that appointment. I couldn’t. My cycle never came. I was pregnant! With the first of our two amazing kiddos!

I know now that there is no one way or right way to live. Watching our rainbow babies grow into the inquisitive, kind, intelligent young humans they are is amazing. I would not have it any other way.

Excelsior! Onward and Upward

The truth is, I want to travel. I want to see shows on Broadway and listen to music at the Sydney Opera House. I want to visit ghost towns in the United States and medieval castles in Europe. I want to learn about history, not what is taught in school, but real personal history. History that teaches us who we really are – and that we humans aren’t all that different. I want to meet interesting people. I want to share stories that connect and empower us to do better, be better, and live better lives. I am so grateful to have an opportunity to do a little of this in my job!

Travel hasn’t really been possible lately due to a global pandemic and raising small children. But building community and sharing stories is completely possible in the age of COVID. We might all be facing Zoom fatigue, but it’s worth it if I can uplift those stories of folks, like you, who come here looking for hope. Looking for resources. Looking for belonging.

So, I may have some desiderium about some things, but I know that letting go, and moving forward is the only way to live.

Posted on BrainLine October 15, 2021.