Rape Is NOT a Consequence of Drinking Alcohol

Content Warning: This blog post contains discussion of rape, victim shaming/blaming, and Brock Turner (the Stanford rapist trial boondoggle). Here’s a picture of one of my cats (hiding from a guide dog in training who was staying with us), in lieu of white space, in case you need to exit out without reading this link. I *totally* get that, and you have my solidarity. ❤ I’ve had to click out of a few links, or even avoid clicking them. :-/

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Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion of what happens when people drink alcohol, discussion of what the consequences are for drinking, especially if you get drunk, especially-est if you get falling down black-out drunk. As I have some experience with this, I thought I’d shed some light on the matter.

The consequences of drinking alcohol include:

  • Getting tipsy/buzzed
  • Getting drunk
  • Becoming emotional
  • Peeing a lot
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty walking
  • Passing out
  • Throwing up
  • Hangover

Please note that you may not have all of these symptoms. The symptoms you experience depend on a variety of factors and vary from person to person. They also vary for the same person depending on factors including (but not limited to) what you drink, when you drink it, how fast you drink it, your food intake, your water intake, medications, medical conditions, etc. This is a list of some of the symptoms (or consequences) you *might* experience after drinking alcohol.

Now, let’s talk about…

Things that are unequivocally NOT consequences/symptoms of drinking alcohol:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault

I know it’s a shorter list, but please, read it again. Read it a few times. I’ll wait.

In the wake of the Brock Turner boondoggle, in which a man was convicted of raping an unconscious woman and received only a 6 month sentence in county jail, I’ve heard multiple people make remarks along these lines.

“They’re both facing the consequences of their choices.”
“She shouldn’t have drunk so much.”
“Things would probably have turned out differently if she hadn’t gotten so drunk she blacked out.”
“She needs to take responsibility for her choice to drink/get that drunk.”
“The person who gave her her last drink holds some responsibility too.”
“This is why women shouldn’t drink very much.”
“Women who drink need to make sure they have a trusted friend who’s sober with them.”
“She made a choice to drink and now she’s paying for it.”
“Please drink responsibly so this type of thing doesn’t happen.”
“Her life is being affected by her drinking choices.”
“Choices like theirs have consequences.”
“Never set yourself up to be attacked or raped.”
“It’s too bad she chose to drink to incapacitation and now has to face the consequences of that choice.”

Here’s the thing. I’m going to let you in on something that is apparently not a known fact to everyone. This is REALLY important, so pay close attention, ok? You ready? Here we go.

Rape is not a consequence of alcohol. Rape is not a consequence of drinking alcohol. Rape is not a consequence of getting drunk. Rape is the consequence of someone who decides to rape someone else. RAPE IS NOT A CONSEQUENCE OF DRINKING.

There is only one person who is responsible for the fact that Brock Turner raped a woman who was drunk and unconscious. That person is Brock Turner. And Brock Turner didn’t rape this woman because he was drunk or because she was drunk. Brock Turner raped this woman because he’s a jerk who said “To hell with consent. My wants are more important than her humanity, and consent doesn’t matter.” It wasn’t because he was drunk, because rape isn’t a consequence of drinking.

I’ve been drunk before, to varying degrees (everything from vaguely buzzed to vomiting, blacking out, and probably had some alcohol poisoning going one. I’ve also been raped and otherwise sexually assaulted. And you know what? The two happened independently of one another. With the exception of one time (and that time involved an abusive and manipulative relationship and grooming that had been happening for a while including while sober, ad was generally a crappy situation, but isn’t that always the case?), I wasn’t raped when I was drinking. I was raped/sexually assaulted when I was sober. And the rapists? Also sober.

I’ll tell you one story in particular. Years ago, there was a night where I was really unhappy, and I ended up *really* drunk. Like, really really really drunk. I couldn’t stand up or walk straight. I ended up having to be carried up the stairs, stuck in a shower, and put to bed once I was clean, dried off, dressed, and no longer smelled of vodka and orange Fanta (terrible combination, if you’re wondering). I spent most of the night vomiting and it was well over 24 hours before I was actually sober. I blacked out at a couple of points. It’s taken me YEARS to finally remember most of the night, but there are still a few blocks that are missing. Quite frankly, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had alcohol poisoning. Fortunately, the friends I had around me – both male and female – were decent people. Despite the fact that some of them were drunk and I was drunk, nobody raped me, and I didn’t rape anyone. One of the guys was the one who carried me upstairs and deposited me with the female friends who got me cleaned up and taken care of. He was alone with me in a stairwell while I was drunk… no rape happened. Why? Because rape isn’t a consequence of drinking alcohol (or doing drugs).

If rape were a consequence of drinking, why do sober people rape? Why are sober people raped? Rape isn’t about alcohol, just as it’s not about what the person who was raped was wearing, whether they were flirting, whether they initially said yes and then changed their mind, whether they said yes to some petting but no to anything further, whether they were doing drugs, whether they’re a sex worker, whether they are sex-positive, or anything else. Rape isn’t even about sex. Rape is about power. Rape is about someone who decides that what they want matters more than the person they want it from.

There is nothing I can do that makes me responsible for my rape. Being raped is not a choice I make. Being raped is not the consequence of any of my choices. If I am raped, it is not my fault in any way, shape or form. To say that it is, to say the things I listed above in the examples of things people say, is to blame me for someone else raping me.

This line of thinking of “She chose to drink irresponsibly” is victim blaming. It’s a part of rape culture. It takes some of the culpability and responsibility off of the shoulders of the rapist and puts it squarely on the shoulders of the rape survivor. That’s not right. Unfortunately, a lot of the people I see saying “She’s now dealing with a devastating consequence to her choice to get drunk” don’t realize that that’s them blaming her for what the rapist did. They say “What?!? OF COURSE I’m not blaming her! He’s the rapist, it’s not her fault. Why would you think I blame her? I don’t blame her for being raped. I just think she should have made better choices.” And they don’t see the contradiction. They don’t see that they’re putting the choice to rape on par with the choice to drink, when they’re not at all the same thing.

You should also know that if this applies to you, if you’re one of the ones saying “Well, it’s a consequence of her getting so drunk, she should have been more responsible in her drinking”, you’re telling the people around you that should they/we ever be raped/sexually assaulted, you are not a safe person to come talk to. Why? Because you’re likely to sit there and – even without realizing – find some way to pin the blame on us and make it OUR fault. That’s one of the things you say when you make it about the rape/sexual assault survivor instead of leaving it all on the rapists shoulders. Think really hard about whether that’s the message you want to send. Hopefully, it’s not, and now that you know better you’ll do better.

I’d like to share the words of the woman whom Brock Turner chose to rape. This is part of the letter she wrote (you can read the full thing here)and read as her victim statement at his sentencing. Her words are powerful and spot on, and it’s only right that she be given airtime to voice this.

“He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

(Note: The survivor has made a follow-up statement addressing why she chooses to remain anonymous, and it’s not only to protect her identity. Read more here.)

Wow.

Alcohol didn’t rape this woman. Brock Turner raped this woman. Not because he was drunk or because she was drunk, but because he chose to rape her, to act with total disregard for her body, her autonomy, and her rights. He treated her like a possession, not a person. Alcohol isn’t a sentient being, Alcohol doesn’t take over brains and force them to rape.

Before I go, I want to say it one more time, because it’s that important for people to realize.

Rape is not a consequence of drinking alcohol. Rape is a consequence of a person who decides to rape someone else. Alcohol does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape.

Resources for rape/sexual assault survivors and those who know/care about them

Now, I’d like to take a minute to switch over to talking about resources for rape/sexual assault survivors and the people who know/care about them, because that’s *really* important.

If you or someone you know has been raped, it is not your/their fault. There are resources to help you. You can contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and they can chat with you confidentially 24/7 via internet or phone. They can also help you find local support. RAINN also has a page with national resources that might be of some use. Additionally, you can research and see if you/they have a rape crisis center nearby. RAINN also has a page with info about the DoD Safe Helpline. 

“DoD Safe Helpline provides a way for DoD community members affected by sexual assault to get help. These services are provided by RAINN through a contract with the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO).” –RAINN: DoD Safe Helpline.

Other options for members of the US military and their dependents include

  • Calling your local MTF and they should have an option on the phone menu to get put through to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
  • The DoD SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) website includes a section for victim assistance, which includes a breakdown of assistance options (including reporting options) by duty status: Active Duty, Reserve Component, Transitioning, Veteran, DoD Civilian, DoD Dependent, and DoD Contractor.

If you are a college student, you may have options/resources available through your campus nurse/health clinic, if you have one.

Planned Parenthood also has a page with information about rape/sexual assault. One thing of note from their page:

“Some hospitals/clinics have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs. These programs have nurses who are specially trained to collect evidence and provide medical care following a sexual assault. You do not have to cooperate with a law enforcement investigation in order to receive a medical forensic exam at no cost. The National Rape Hotline should be able to direct you to the nearest SANE program.

Many people who have experienced sexual violence are concerned about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can come to any Planned Parenthood health center for Emergency Contraception (within 5 days) and STI testing.” –Planned Parenthood: Rape/Sexual Assault Information

These are some of the main resources I usually direct people to, and they should be able to point you in the direction you need to go and give you advice specific to your situation. If you are a rape/sexual assault survivor, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. Know that there are people out here, including me, who support you 100% and unconditionally. If you need help, please reach out. If you’re not sure what you should do, you can reach out. You are not alone.

 

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Transphobic Laws Protect Zero: The Facts

CW: discussion of transphobia, the bathroom hysteria, rape and sexual assault (including against children) and the high rates of violence against trans people, especially trans WOC. If you are feeling vulnerable, you may want to avoid reading this post. Know that you are loved and there is no judgment here. In lieu of the traditional white space, here’s a nice picture of my cat when he was high as a kite after dumping open a bowl of catnip. That would be the green specks in the pic, he rolled all around in it.

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Hey, fellow cisgender people, let’s talk about the current “bathroom hysteria” going on in the good ol’ US of A. In case you’ve missed the brouhaha, the current claim is that laws restricting trans people to the bathroom matching the gender assigned to them at birth (usually) based on their genitals will protect people (read: cisgender women and children) from perverts (read: cisgender men) who might otherwise exploit laws protecting trans people wishing to pee and poop in peace in the restroom they wish to use. The idea is that if there are laws allowing trans women and girls to pee in the women’s restroom, these male cis-het pervs will use that law to allow them to claim to be trans women to get access to the women’s restroom where they will rape and otherwise sexually assault and harass the women and children who are in said restroom. Because, you know, these criminals care so much about following the law… Anywho. Let’s look at some facts and statistics about rape and sexual assault, both generally and specifically against trans people, and see how that measures up.

  • Fact: rape and sexual assault already happen.
  • Fact: We already have laws prohibiting rape and sexual assault.
  • Fact: People who rape and sexually assault other people DO NOT CARE what the law says or whether the law allows them to be in the restroom.
  • Fact: Cis women and children are at a far greater risk of rape and sexual assault from people we know than from strangers, including the mythical bathroom stalking strangers.

Transphobic laws restricting bathroom use don’t protect me or my daughters, so please stop trying to use us as your excuse for transphobia. And not only do anti-trans bathroom bills NOT protect us, they INCREASE the risk of assault for trans people, who already face an appallingly high rate of assault, especially trans WOC. Read that again, you read it right: laws like the one NC passed in the name of protecting cis women and children don’t do anything to protect me but they do increase the risk of harm coming to my friends who are trans.

So, let’s talk numbers.

According to RAINN: (https://rainn.org/statistics)

  • “Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. Each year, there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault.
  • 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.
  • Approximately 4/5 assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.”

[Esther’s note] While you were reading to this point, at least one American was probably sexually assaulted. Chances are high that it was someone they knew, not a stranger taking advantage of laws protecting trans people’s right to pee where they feel safest. Chances are also very high that the perp will not ever face jail time. And if they go to BYU, if the person who was just sexually assaulted in the time it took you to read this status reports their rape to the Title IX rep, they’ll get referred to the Honor Code Office for investigation against them and may very well face discipline (possibly expulsion) while the person who assaulted them may very well face… absolutely nothing. MAYBE a slap on the wrist. [/Esther’s Note]

Also according to Rainn: (https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims)

  • “93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.
  • For 80% of juvenile victims, the perpetrator was a parent. 6% were other relatives. 4% were unmarried partners of a parent. 5% were “other” (from siblings to strangers).”

According to the Office for Victims of Crimes: (http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.html)

  • “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse.”
  • “Sexual violence has been found to be even higher in some subpopulations within the transgender community, including transgender youth, transgender people of color, individuals living with disabilities, homeless individuals, and those who are involved in the sex trade.”
  • “In the NCAVP 2009 report on hate violence, 50 percent of people who died in violent hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people were transgender women; the other half were male, many of whom were gender non-conforming”
  • “In 2009, 53 percent of LGBTQ hate crime victims were people of color.Of the 22 anti-LGBTQ hate crime murders documented by NCAVP that year, 79 percent of the victims were people of color.As noted above, 50 percent (11 individuals) of the 2009 murders tracked were transgender women; of those, 9 were people of color (82 percent). Of the other 11 murders of gender non-conforming people, 5 (45 percent) were people of color.”

If you’re interested in the statistics on exactly how often places in the US have seen an increase in bathroom assaults due to laws offering trans people some very basic protections when they need to use the restroom, you’ll want to check out these two links.

Just in case anyone missed it, the idea that laws allowing trans people to pee where they feel safe/comfortable will be exploited by perverts who will use them to gain entrance to bathrooms to sexually assault people using the bathroom is made up. It’s a lie. It’s a myth. Narnia has more basis in reality than this mess.

It’s time to stop the transphobia. It’s time to stop the hate speech. It’s time to stop allowing ignorance and lies from politicians to be our justification for increasing the already high risk of violence faced by innocent people. If you really want to help fight against rape and sexual assault, contact your local rape crisis shelter, RAINN, etc. and find out how you can get involved. While you’re at it, educate yourself on the realities of rape and sexual assault against EVERYONE. But feeding into this bathroom hysteria? You’re not preventing rape or sexual assault or any kind of violence, and you aren’t protecting anyone. Quite the opposite: you’re part of the problem, and you’re helping make the world even more unsafe for trans people.

Do I worry about the safety of my children? Yes. Do I worry about whether they will end up being sexually assaulted? Yes. Unfortunately, statistics are not in our favor. So, the way I see it, I don’t have time to worry about protecting them from a made up threat, and I have ZERO interest in causing very real harm and damage to other innocent people in the process of trying to protect them from a threat that is, to put it mildly, total and complete doodoo.

More links to statistics about rape and sexual assault

 

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Health Certificates for Bringing Pets to Germany

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Since this topic comes up a lot in military circles, I thought I’d post some helpful links from USDA APHIS that I’ve found to be very informative about the health paperwork required to bring cats and dogs from the US to Germany. Please note that this is ONLY the paperwork required by the government. The airline(s)  you travel with may have additional requirements. Be sure to contact them directly to ask what they need from you, including the Patriot Express. And if you take any commercial flights, pay attention to whether you have different flights operated by different airlines, even if it’s all billed as/arranged by one airline under a code share. For example, if you fly commercial the entire way, your itinerary may be ticketed under American Airlines but – due to the oneworld alliance codeshare – you may have 2 flights operated by American and 1 flight operated by Air Berlin or Lufthansa. Check on the requirements for all airlines, as they may each require different things. Additionally, this post only covers the health certificate and doesn’t get into the travel itself and stuff like crates, food/water, baggage transfers, etc. I may make a separate post about that later, but for now I’ll just say to pay close attention to what each airline requires and leave it at that.
On to the health certificate. Things to pay close attention to include the following:
  • The pet has to be chipped. The microchip has to be a very specific kind that meets a specific regulation (see the links for more info). Don’t assume that your pet’s chip is the kind you need, have the vet double check.
  • If your cat or dog is chipped and it’s not the right kind and you have to get a second chip, the pet’s rabies shot will have to be redone even if they just got it a month ago.
  • The chip has to be put in BEFORE they get the rabies shot. It can be the same day, but the chip has to be put in first.
  • The rabies shot has to be at least 21 days old [1] but not expired. There is an exception for pets under 12 weeks of age.
  • Their health certificate endorsed by the USDA has to be done and dated within 10 days of travel. This can be 10 days out or the day before. But any later than 10 days and the certificate expires and you’ll have to get a new one.
  • If you have to get a new rabies shot, you don’t have to wait for the 21 day period to be over. The 21 days is only how long they have to wait before they can go to Germany.
    Example: Our cats had to get the shot and the chip, then wait the 21 days. We got the health certificate done on…. I want to say it was Day 14, then we got the USDA endorsement done on Day 21, then the cats flew on Day 22.
  • If you use a civilian vet, make sure they have the credentials to do the certificate. You will probably also have to take the certificate to a USDA APHIS office to get their endorsement.
This is not a complete and exhaustive list of what you need to do, the links have the full info, but those are some notable things to pay close attention to. Even if you’re going to use a military vet, be familiar with and take this info with you to the appointment(s), because there are military vet clinics out there that give bad info. Voice of experience speaking.
Another note: if your pets are going with you, the health certificate HAS to have the name of the person who will be traveling with them. So if there’s even a chance that the spouse will go later, take that into account when doing the health certs. In our case, since I knew there was a chance I might have to stay behind and fly after my husband, we put the health certificate in my husband’s name. Sure enough, I ended up being delayed by a week. If we’d put them in my name, the certificate would have expired and I would have had to pay again to get it re-done.

We just brought cats over with us when we PCSed from California to Germany in October. We ended up getting the USDA APHIS endorsement at their office next door to LAX since that’s where we were flying out of. If you have to get the USDA APHIS endorsement yourself separate from the vet’s office, you’ll want to make note of the location of the UUSDA APHIS office you’re going to use and if you aren’t going in person, note whether you need to overnight, send a return envelope, that sort of thing.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to share my experience, feel free to ask.
The links to the requirements:
[1] For whatever reason, some people are getting told the rabies shot has to be 30 days old. That is not what the USDA requires. It may not seem like a big deal but a whole week can be if you’re last minute getting your shots and whatnot (which we were, in part because of bad info from the vet clinic).

Remembering Love

CW: missed miscarriage, D&C

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Back around April 1, in saying “Don’t do pregnancy announcements as an April Fool’s
Joke”, I talked a little about what I went through in late March/early April with the missed miscarriage and subsequent D&C of the twins I was carrying as a GS. This week has had me thinking about it more, as posts from that week have come up on my FB “On This Day” app.

Last year, seeing that threw me for a major loop. It hurt and it brought back up some of the painful memories of what happened w/ the m/c and when things later went very poorly with the IPs of the twins and w/ how they and the fertility clinic handled matters. Last year, seeing the posts hurt. A lot. And there was pain. But I’d like to talk about what happened this year when those posts came up.

This year, my feelings were different. I still feel some resentment towards the RE, and probably always will. But it wasn’t nearly as strong. And I didn’t feel angry towards the IPs. This year, I feel compassion for them and for everything they’ve been through. This year, instead of fighting a renewed urge to send the IM a… let’s say hurt-filled email… I had to fight the urge to send her an email saying “I wish you well, I hope you have been or are able to have the babies you want.” and just want to know if her journey has ended well and have some closure (no I didn’t send an email at all).

Beyond that, this year, I feel so much love and appreciation for the outpouring of kindness, caring, and support that I was shown. My wonderful husband took fantastic care of me, as he always does. I had friends bringing me food and treats. Members of the Bishopric stopped by to check on us and make sure we knew to let them know if we needed anything. I had multiple friends offering to get up at the crack of dawn (ok, before the crack of dawn) to drive me up to the hospital and back and just generally be there for me for the D&C. I had an OB who was the kindest, most compassionate, most loving care provider I could have hoped for. She hugged me and let me cry, she and her staff didn’t even hint at needing me to leave even though the office was closing, until we had a plan, they worked me in that week for the unexpected appointments I needed. In pre-op, everyone made sure I had whatever meds I needed to cope with being upset. When I came out of the general anesthesia, Dr. Klikoff and the staff were immediately right there being kind and seeing what I needed (above and beyond the basics). I had friends give me blessings. I had friends who let me know that they were there for me if I needed to talk or cry. I had friends who came to see me. I had friends give me really great hugs. I had SO many people message me to let me know they had been through m/c’s and D&Cs and if I had any questions, feel free to ask them, including people I didn’t really know that well but who saw my posts on fMh. I had people offering to watch the kids, help with laundry, help with errands, do whatever I needed. I had an amazing agency that stood by me, the owner made sure I had HER cell phone number to call if I needed to talk or had any questions. And she and they stood by me through EVERYTHING, and are still friends. And I had friends who just loved me and went to appointments with me and let me stay their house in LA when I had to go back for more appointments at the fertility clinic after the fact.

Later on, that summer, when the IPs terminated the contract (it was not a positive experience and was very poorly mishandled), I had friends who let me come over and literally cry in their kitchen. A couple months after that when I almost had a nervous meltdown (ok, maybe ALMOST isn’t quite the right word), I had online PPD friends who were there for me to talk me through the hyperventilation and panic attack, who helped me figure out a plan to move forwards in finally actually dealing with my grief, and who offered to stay up talking with me online or on the phone, and who said to ping them any time of day or night even wake them up if I needed to talk again. I had a friend who let me come over and sob on her couch and spill out a lot of feelings I had been bottling up inside. I had WONDERFUL friends through everything in my photo class who gave me the space (or not space) or hugs or whatever that I needed, who offered treats if they’d help, who explained to my professor why I wasn’t there, and who didn’t push or pry unnecessarily but also made sure I knew I wasn’t alone. I had amazing professors who understood when I needed a few days off class, and a wonderful nurse in the campus health clinic who let me come in and rest or cry whenever I needed to. And through it all, my parents, especially Mom (because sometimes I still just need my Mama), and my husband, have been my rocks.

Tonight, as I write this, I’m sitting on my couch crying. But this? This is a GOOD cry. Because this is tears brought on by considering the great amount of grace and love and compassion and service I was shown by so many people, and still continue to receive. I can never tag or list everyone who reached out or who helped me in some way, because my memory is faulty, but your love has had a lasting impact on me, and has changed me and changed my life for the better.

Today, when I look back at a time that was very dark and full of grief and trauma and pain, I remember the pain and the crappy stuff because I don’t think that’s something that ever truly gets forgotten or that it ever completely leaves you. But that crappy stuff is not what I feel. Today, when I look back at that time, what I feel and what I remember most is love and friendship. True love, on multiple ways, shown on multiple levels. And what I want all of you to take from this post (besides the fact that I know some absolutely amazing people) is that your small acts of kindness, even just sending a message to someone who’s hurting and saying “I’m sorry. I care about you. I’m here for you.” and validating their pain, can make a world of difference. It may take some time, but it leaves a mark. Even a tiny flame shines bright in the darkest of nights.

love

Fake Pregnancy Announcements Are No Joke

CW: miscarriage, infertility.

bfp

With April 1st approaching, reminders are popping up about how incredibly hurtful it can be to see fake pregnancy announcements for those who are or have struggled with infertility/pregnancy loss. I’d like to share my story and another perspective on how this type of thing can be hurtful.

2 years ago, I was pregnant with twins as a Gestational Surrogate. The pregnancy had seemingly been going well and I was excited for my first OB appointment on March 31, as this signalled a big milestone in being discharged from the care of the Reproductive Endocrinologist into the care of my OB/GYN.

Late that afternoon, I walked into my doctor’s office excited and looking forwards to seeing the twins on ultrasound and having more u/s pictures to send to the Intended Parents. But within a matter of minutes, that fell apart as the world came crashing down around me. With a few dreaded words, I learned that the twins were both gone. Neither had a heartbeat and they had both stopped growing two weeks prior, mere days after the last u/s at the monitoring clinic that showed both with good heartbeats. Two words changed everything: Missed Miscarriage.

That evening, as I struggled to comprehend what was happening, as I worked to get through the numbness of shock at something that had been going so perfectly suddenly going completely wrong, I realized that it was the night before April 1. April Fools Day meant that any announcements were likely to be met with skepticism, laughter, “Wow that’s a terrible joke to play, how could you!”, and doubt, and that wasn’t something I could take. So I told a few people, but for the most part i kept the news to myself until April Fools Day was over.

It was horrible to feel like my announcement would be suspect, that my pain would be questioned and doubted. It added to matters to see people “just joking” about pregnancy. It was several different layers of awful that had never occurred to me before, and it was my own private version of hell.

This April Fool’s Day (ok, any day, but this comes up a lot at April Fool’s Day), please don’t make pregnancy a joke. Please realize that no matter how innocent your intentions are, someone (or more likely, multiple someones) are watching your “joke” and feeling like their pain in your punchline. Given the statistics on infertility and pregnancy loss, chances are very high that someone you know is struggling with infertility (whether you know it or not) and a fake pregnancy announcement will take them on a roller coaster of emotions both at the announcement and then again at the “Just kidding!” Chances are high that there are people dealing with miscarriage or stillbirth – whether actively or diagnosed as missed – on March 31-April 1, and that not only might your “joke” hurt them in the ways usually discussed, they may be wrestling with whether they can even tell anyone about their pain and may be feeling like they have to keep it to themselves.

I don’t think anyone puts out a fake pregnancy announcement with the intention of hurting others, but intention doesn’t negate the impact. Please consider whether your joke is worth the pain it has the potential to cause people you love and care about. And if it’s not and you just HAVE to do some April Fool’s Joke, well, get creative and find something that isn’t so overdone.

To everyone reading this, if you are or have struggled with infertility and/or pregnancy loss, I’m sorry for your pain. Know that I am here for you and if you need to talk, I will not make April Fool’s Day a reason to question your hurt. You matter, and I care about you. Know that you are loved beyond measure and I am here for you if you need it.