giving grief words

“give sorrow words; the grief that doesn’t speak whispers o’er the fraught heart and bids it break”

~Shakespeare (MacBeth, 4.3)



I am a planner. A list-maker.

I like order and directions and a roadmap.

I like to chart out all the possibilities and know what is in store.

And then I like to do it right.

I don’t like to let people down.

Disappointment is my biggest fear.

I am a people-pleaser.

I am a “good” girl.  I always did what I was told out of fear of disappointing someone.

These are all things that came out in my therapy session on Thursday.  All things that were stated after I blurted out that I just HATE my stupid medication.

She looked at me and pointed out what I should have known after seeing her for almost a year.

I feel the need to do things “right”.

I DO do things right.

Except having babies.

I don’t do that “right”.

At least not the traditional idea of “right”.

And I have to let myself grieve this.

I hate that my body doesn’t naturally produce the  progesterone that will help me sustain a pregnancy.

I hate that no matter how many babies I give birth to, when asked how many pregnancies, I will always have to add 2 to the number of children I have.

I hate that my body isn’t shaped correctly to birth a baby vaginally.

I hate that my son and I are results of “the miracle of modern medicine.”

I hate that my mind betrayed me.

I hate that I may be on depression and/or anxiety meds for the rest of my child-bearing years…or longer.

I have been telling others that it is ok.  That they are not alone.  That they WILL get through PPD/A, and in the midst of that I have been fighting my own battle.  With grief.

I don’t want this to be me.

I don’t want things to always be hard.

I don’t want to be special or a statistic.

I want to be NORMAL.

I have been quietly struggling with this new reality of mine.

Getting off my meds did not work.  At all.  Even though I so badly wanted it to, and I so furtively believed I could do it.

I was going to be a success story.  Getting off my meds and getting pregnant again was going to be the pretty bow on this ugly story of PPD.

And then I could say, “see?  you just need meds, therapy, and time and then you will be ALL BETTER.”

But I am not “all better.”

Instead, I am back on  my meds.

And I might be for a very, very long time.

I know that nobody is disappointed…except me.

But I count.  That much I have learned in this battle.

What I feel about everything matters.

I have to be able to accept that this is my story.  It’s part of what makes me Katie. It’s not all of me, but it is part of me.

Before I can accept that and be ok with it?  I have to grieve that this plan didn’t work out.

My body refused to do this “right”.

And it will continue to not do it “right” because it has a different way…a chemically altered, surgery-aided way to bring babies into this world.

Once I have given myself appropriate time to mourn my loss?  Only then can I begin to accept that just because I didn’t do this “right”?  I also didn’t do it “wrong”.

Until then, I must give my grief words or it will continue to break my heart.

I will continue to have broken insides. over and over.

And broken insides are not conducive to a happy home for a new baby.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Help spread the word and break down the stigma.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I know this feeling oh-so-well. There are just those of us who have this sense of right and wrong stamped on our soul. There is a right way to do high school, a right way to do college, a right way to get married, a right way to have babies and dammit, a right way to die. And when it becomes impossible to follow that narrow line, our worlds just crumble, don’t they?

    I know this feeling.

    I wish that I didn’t, but I do. Big hugs.

  2. I wish that I did not know this feeling–even if mine body’s lack of abilities are for different reasons….it is a feeling that I wish none of us had to ever experience. I wish I still believed in the fact that we only get things dealt with us that we can deal with…but I don’t. It doesnt seem fair, nor does it seem right. But it is. 🙁 sending you hugs.

  3. I feel this so deeply too. You and I are so much alike it scares me a little. 🙂 But I’m so grateful that I can call you a friend – and that maybe we can help each other learn to grieve what we cannot have (so much the same, yet so different).

  4. The best thing you could be doing for yourself and those around you is be on the meds. It doesn’t matter whether it’s forever. It matters that you need them now and you’re willing to do the right thing. That makes you a strong person.

    And grieving our losses to what is or might be or should be is good. Because we’ll never get to the end of grieving if we don’t ever begin.

    Congrats on beginning. Even though it sucks.

  5. big hugs to you. way to be brave and honest. grieving is such a part of life, isn’t it? so hard, though, so hard. it hurts when we envision life one way and it turns out completely different. i’m glad you are allowing yourself to hurt. that is ok.

    i am still on my AD. And I am pregnant.
    there i said it.

    🙂 love you!

  6. One of the best things a friend told me when I broke up with a boyfriend was “Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.”

    I can’t tell you how many times those words helped me over the years, and how many times I’ve repeated them to friends.

    Hugs to you, my brave friend..

  7. Cristi Comes says

    It’s grieving the death of your dream. Just as important as grieving an actual death. There is strength in putting your sadness into words. I’m sorry you’re stuggling with acceptance. It’s not easy. Hugs.

  8. You are so brave and strong. Grieving has to be one of the hardest things in life, and its hard to think our lives aren’t the way we wanted them to be. I got pregnant “normal” and still suffered during my pregnancy, still had to have an emergency c-section, still suffered with the PPD aftermath … when “normal” doesn’t fit what we had planned all we do is grieve and find something to help us get to the next point. Amazing post!

  9. Don’t be hard on yourself…allow yourself to grieve…allow yourself to shine. Best wishes, sending prayers and big love to you.

  10. This is a beautiful, brave post. Written by a beautiful, brave woman. You are taking good care of yourself, giving yourself what you need, and doing the right thing. You deserve to be proud. I’m so sorry it’s not different for you and this is hurting you. I wish you peace in your body, mind and soul.

  11. I’ve been on meds for close to 17 years. They are my lifeline to the world. They are what helps me get up in the morning and face my reality whatever it may be.

    You do what you need to do to live the best life that you can and it’s okay. I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life and about a year ago I got tired, just so tired of living like that.

    You are an amazing woman. An amazing support to those who you care about. I am lucky to be one of them. Phoebe is only here b/c of a miracle of science and I feel blessed everyday. I know how you feel.

    Take your time, grieve, do what you have to do, we’re all here for you when you need us.

  12. If I wrote everything I’m thinking now it would take a book.

    Normal isn’t.

    It’s just…not.

    You are what you are in all it’s abnormal beauty.

    But we create an ideal of normal and then grieve when we don’t have it.

    Yet if we look at those who love us and who we love, the variety of existence is so varied, so flawed, so unexpected, so not-what-was-expected that normal becomes nothing but a statistic with few teeth.

    I am guilty of this, my dear friend. So so guilty.

    Please do not hold yourself up to an imaginary benchmark only to find yourself wanting.


    You are a sum of parts that astounds and deserves celebrating.

    I cannot give you the things you want – I would if I could in a fraction of a heartbeat. I can only ask that you do not think “less,” or “wrong.”


  13. First, it’s okay. Feel that way. Grieve it. Do it now while you can and need to and don’t leave it to fester. That doesn’t work.

    Also, I know. I have accepted that I’m going to be on meds for a while, and am finally ok with doing that during pregnancy. I just have to find the right ones, because the current ones aren’t working and I’m sick of feeling like crap all the time. Wanting to run away from your family on a daily basis is no fun.

    So if you’re back on, that’s good for you. And good for your future babe.

    I won’t tell you that it will be okay or that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for being “wrong” because that’s not how it works. We do. And we should be allowed to. So do it, but love yourself a little too.

  14. I didn’t realize you’d had trouble conceiving and carrying your son. I know a little something about the conception part, but can’t imagine how painful a miscarriage (or two) would be. This might be a stupid question, but do they link PPD to this at all, or is PPD all unrelated chemical/hormonal stuff?

    I’m sorry you are feeling discouraged. It will pass. In the meantime, don’t get down on yourself. This doesn’t make you weak, or worthless, or burdensome. I hope things begin to look up soon. I will be thinking of you.

  15. I feel inadequate saying this, but I truly feel that nobody feels “normal.” And yet, to voice that feeling is so very strong and brave and right.

    Thank you.

  16. I couldn’t agree more with all that you said, for some of the same reasons and some different I have so many of the feelings that you have written here. Thank you for being a voice for grief. I know how hard that is to do.

  17. Oh my sweet friend, I can’t tell you how often I just want to take this grief from us, in all it’s forms. The betrayal and the hurt that infertility and PPD bring us.

    You are so brave and strong for sharing this, your heart is so huge for inviting us into it.
    I used to hate that I needed an IVF to get PG..but I can’t hate it and then love Gio and I choose to acknowledge it and accept it.
    There is no shame in the meds or the grief. NONE.

    I’m here if u need me.

  18. It’s okay that you feel like you’ve done it wrong right now because in the end, you’ll see that what’s wrong for society as a whole probably isn’t wrong for YOU personally. For YOU, this is right. Until then, we’re here wrapping you in the light.

  19. I feel like I’m only echoing the wonderful words of the women before me, but you are brave for sharing your pain. And I hope acknowledging it and the words of support and encouragement that you receive from the people who care about you (even if we’ve never physically met you), can help you feel stronger.
    hugs from me xx

  20. Wow…. so very eloquently put. My thoughts are with you.

  21. Friend, so well written. We all struggle with those thoughts and strive to be “perfect” when in reality, it’s a bar that we probably set too high for ourselves. You are a great mama and a beautiful person. You rock.

  22. I an horrible at commenting on posts like this, but I feel so much wanting to be said 🙂 You may not be the success story you originally intended, but you can be an important success story to women like me who think that if they can’t go without meds then hope is lost. I am posting for that success for you. Grieve first, then kick some butt 🙂 Hugs!

  23. thanks for sharing your struggle. i feel like the things i want to say to you are things you’ve probably already heard and don’t want to hear again. so i’ll say you’re stronger than you think and you’re an inspiration even when you don’t feel like it. sending hugs your way.

  24. You are a success story!!! You have stood up and shared something so deeply private, to give others hope. You have allowed your story to so the reality of mental illness. You’ve taken a step in tearing down the stigma of mental illness. You, unknowingly, have given others the power to stand tall and admit to mental illness. I’m just at the beginning of tearing down this horrible wall. I’m making it real in my life, I have a mental illness, but it DOES NOT have me! So thank you, thank you for being you.

    I also suffer from incredibly low progesterone. I’ve lost 5 babies because of this. With medical intervention, I have 5 amazing children here with me and 5 gorgeous angels waiting for me.

    I will have no more. It hurts my heart so deeply. I mourn this daily. Almost as much grief and mourning, from the loss of my angel babies My medications for my mental well being( that allow me to be the momma I am now) can cause much fetal distress, danger, damage and even death. At this point, unless God shows me different or something medically changes, there will no more babies growing in my womb. The pain of this thought cuts almost as deeply as accepting my mental illness.

    Thank you again for your bravery.

    Now to dry my tears and find a child to love on.

  25. Katie, I just have no words to express how sad I feel for you. I am thankful that you have friends and family, and a therapist who seems to help you. But to feel betrayed by your body and your mind just plain sucks. And I have no words for that, other than I care about you and am sending all good thoughts your way, my friend.

  26. All I have for you are hugs! I’m sorry that your body is letting you down… this is a feeling I know all too well. Since my son was born, I have suffered three miscarriages and it’s beyond frustrating. Hang in there, my friend. xoxo

  27. Loving you for all that you ARE! You are you and you are wonderful!

  28. I think, when we’re honest with ourselves, that we all have a “wrong” part of our lives.

    I made and birthed a baby just fine, but supporting him? I can’t do that right, and it’s eating me alive.

    I’m a good girl, too. The fact that I live paycheck to paycheck at 34 makes me physically ill.

  29. After my first miscarriage, I grieved. Hard. I couldn’t grieve the subsequent miscarriages because I didn’t have the courage or strength to withstand the pain. So, I went numb instead. Good for you for giving your grief words, for acknowledging it and sharing it. It means you won’t have to suffer nearly as long.

  30. I know grief. I know this specific grief. I felt so broken, so defective

    And I know that you know that you ate neither broken nor defective, and grieving is (in part) the process of learning to believe that.

    If Eddie someday needs medicine for depression, what will you say to him?

    Now say those words to yourself. You deserve the very same kindness and love that you would offer your beloved boy.

  31. mrshiggison says

    Oddly enough, I’ve had three very healthy natural deliveries and still…when I have to say I’ve had four pregnancies I am met with a brick wall of grief.
    Sneaks up on me.

  32. I understand…you know that I do.
    The most important thing that you do “right” is love Cort and Eddie.
    That’s what matters most.

    And I’m here. Always here for you, my friend.

  33. Hugs for you Katie. I so understand your feelings. I actually was just thinking the other day…I’ve been pregnant 3 times and have 2 children. It’s a hard thing to wrap yourself around. And I also can’t seem to push those babies out.

    But, you really are a beautiful mother, writer and person. I hope you can always see that in yourself.

  34. ((hugs))

  35. Biology class left out an important lesson – it’s normal to be abnormal. I think I’d have an easier time with my own “wrong” body – and maybe you with yours – if we were taught that bodies operate how bodies operate and not that bodies operate One Single Way, leaving those that don’t in some unspoken, discarded category of Broken.

  36. I am not sure how I missed this post. Or perhaps I read it and found myself wanting to hug you instead of comment. To sit on a couch and share ice cream with you to commiserate.

  37. I feel this so deeply. I just had a baby, almost exactly 1 year to the date of loosing my son. I just started treatment for PPD/A…I hate feeling/thinking (being?) broken…that reality is the hardest to contend with.

  38. I’ve kinda been where you are but in a different way. Just saying that I can relate and I’m sorry.

    My favorite part of this is when you say “But I count. That much I have learned in this battle.” Yep, exactly. xoxo

  39. Katie, I’m sitting here reading your beautiful heart-wrenching words in tears. I know we only met this past weekend (at Gleek Retreat), but I just want to give you a hug! I can relate too well to the miscarriages, the feeling of loss, and grieving the dream of what should have been (most recently I’ve been dealing with the fact that my dad died 10 years ago and the anniversary is coming up….he should still be here for me, for my kids, in our lives….circling around to the “anger” step of grief).
    Thank you for the reminder of how “normal” we all are in our abnormalities – or that’s to say that there is no “normal”. I love seeing the comments and it looks like you have some amazing supportive people in your life. Hugs to you friend!

    ~ Mara