Last week I had a miscarriage.
Let me rephrase. Last week I found out I had a miscarriage likely two weeks prior. No notice but my gut pulling me in the direction of doubt every few days as the nausea I was experiencing was not consistent like I experienced with my daughters.
“I bet it’s a boy” everyone encouraged!
But the doubt gnawed then bit hard when the ultrasound tech looked up at me with a question I had never been asked before “How certain are you on your dates?”.
They told me to wait a week and we would ultrasound again, but that signs were pointing to miscarriage. No heartbeat at what should be 8 weeks. Lesson one: there might be no signs like you thought, all the while you unknowingly grow more attached to this new person by the hour.
In true kick-you-when-you’re-down fashion I learned a lot more in the days following.
Lesson two. You’re not the only one this is happening to. I pray you have a partner there to hold your hand. But let me tell you, looking over on the drive home and seeing the person you consider the rock, stability of your life in tears silently….well it’s like hearing the news all over again.
Lesson three. Nausea remains. Soreness remains. Exhaustion remains.
So my previous logic during earlier pregnancies was proven totally flawed– one may experience these symptoms anywhere from 9-35 days after losing a baby.
Screw that, I thought. Screw that, I still think.
Worst of all, these symptoms planted the worst kind of seed during those excruciatingly long 7 days
I laid in bed on Mother’s day (fun timing) crying over the anticipated pain. Then crying over the guilt of my beautifully scrappy and brilliant daughters being on the other side of the door wondering where I was.
Hope that was crushed with a silent and bleak ultrasound screen staring back at us the next Thursday. Right on time. The blow I had mentally prepared for and emotionally never would be able to.
You have to decide what to do you do next? The baby is gone, but might still be with you. Now you need to decide- surgery, a pill, wait it out. Not a single kind option. So much to consider and act on your feet over when you really just want to curl up in a ball in the corner of the exam room.
Why am I writing this down. WHY would I share this. Not because it’s fun.
But because: lesson four.
This is ridiculously common, yet we don’t talk about it or inform the next person about what to expect, and I’m all about managing expectations. Because no matter how much I realize it’s not my fault, it still makes me feel like I messed up. I still feel guilt. Anger. Sadness. And just plain emptiness.
Then I read this beautiful essay (https://medium.com/human-development-project/i-need-to-talk-about-my-miscarriage-4af9d942c20f) that resonated so deeply with me afterwards. It made me cry in such a cathartic and perfect way. I know that for many, this might not feel natural or right for them, which I completely respect and understand.
But, for me, it has helped me so immensely to talk about it. As though each time I rip off the band aid that person staring back at me might have just the right ointment for that moment– a proper hug, a new perspective, a story of their own to share– slowly covering up the wound one reaction after the next until it feels healed.
But deep down I know it will never truly be healed because if it were, it would be like it never happened, which I couldn’t bear either. Because whether they were not going to make it, they are still my baby. On path to be a as special as my first 2 kids. An exact unique, one time only opportunity-ed child of ours. And they are gone forever. And that might shatter my heart each time I stop to think about that…no matter how many years pass, let alone weeks.
There unfortunately isn’t much wisdom to impart on how to prepare a fellow woman for a miscarriage which would be a great reason to write all of this down. Except to say- spend your whole life making the type of friends I have. Yeah, I’m bragging here, sure. But they have literally knocked me over with their support. Their pastries dropped on our stoop. Their shared tears. Their flowers. Their texts. Their meals. Their offers of childcare. Their just plain love. Find these people. Male and female. Love them in tangible ways. Because the love they showed up with was something I could touch and grasp at a time I needed something to grasp onto.
Lesson five. My loss was not preventable. Something so many women of color cannot say. Ironically, in my week of uncertainty before the second ultrasound I had a presentation given by the (amazing) Sister’s Keeper Collective on my calendar and I was hit over the head even more about my own unfair privilege as a white woman. That black infants have double the infant mortality rate of their white counterparts. And not only that—maternal mortality is worse than it was 25 years ago. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/magazine/black-mothers-babies-death-maternal-mortality.html And all I could think to myself was, no. No this couldn’t be. How crushed I feel after 8 weeks…how could so many moms go through this loss when it was preventable and predictable. Which leads me to…
Lesson six. We women are strong. We are fierce and we are capable. We grow and sustain life while growing and sustaining ourselves, and there are glorious and perfect moments in that privilege. But there is also pain. There is also risk. There is also darkness. All of which physical and otherwise. And we are asked to overcome it– quickly and with a smile on our faces. And we do. I might cry at my office every day around 11 and again at 3 like clockwork still, but I sure as hell better turn that around by pick up at 5.
I am literally blown away by the fact that women experience this darkness time and time again. In their struggles to get pregnant. In their loss during pregnancy and after. In the loss of their own lives or loved ones. I see you more fully now. And that is a gift. A gift I will never take for granted again. Because I am staring at your strength and it is all the while strengthening me telling me to pick up the pieces and try again one day. Which- in all honesty- I would not have the strength to consider otherwise.