This is a piece I wrote many years ago. Well, it really wasn’t that many years ago – only six. But it seems like a lifetime ago and it was, by the grace of God, two actual lifetimes ago. The first time John and I got pregnant was on our honeymoon. Under an olive tree in Greece to be specific. TMI? That’s the truth though. We took our rented motorbike off road and made love under an olive branch. It might be the most romantic thing we have ever done. We were newlyweds, just a few days into our marriage. We’d never been pregnant , never delivered a baby, and certainly never lost a child. So in this sense we were innocent. Our hearts, and our marriage, were virgins to the kind of pain that we would know just a few months later.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Sometimes our loss feels unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes I feel unworthy of the pain we suffered when I hear other, more tragic, stories. But every loss is important. And even more important is that no woman, or man, feel alone in this suffering. Perhaps by sharing, we can heal not only ourselves, but each other.
Almost Everyone. by shannon noel (2007)
“You’re actually in labor… but essentially for no reason.” This is what the ER doctor said to me at midnight as I lie on the bed praying for the Toradol to kick in. The truth is I was in labor but I could have used a little more sensitivity. I was mis-carrying the twins that I had been carrying for 13 weeks, I was already showing and wearing maternity clothes, my identity had changed, my focus was new and now I was terrified, devastated and guilty of double homicide. Not to mention doubled over in pain.
By 10am the next morning my pain had subsided, my uterus had been “cleaned” and I was released from the hospital with a prescription for Darvocet.
By 6pm I had gone over everything that I could have possibly done wrong. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a mommy, perhaps my marriage wasn’t right, perhaps I’m not worthy. I apologized again and again to my husband for taking away his babies.
By 9pm I was exhausted.
I’ve lost a lot of things in my life. Keys, jobs, games, earrings, loved ones. But never have I experienced this kind of loss. I have talked to girlfriends, parents, doctors and Google. I have listened to devastating stories of infertility, multiple miscarriages and still-births. My husband and I have been angry, sad, and acceptant. We’ve repeated these feelings often. I’ve cried, over eaten, exercised, and avoided. I’ve been over every minute of my 13 weeks of pregnancy to see why this had to happen. WHAT DID I DO WRONG?
“Nothing,” my gynecologist assured me, “you did absolutely nothing. This is a chromosomal problem and your body is taking care of it naturally. You could have jumped off of this building and your babies could have still been fine.”
Really? That doesn’t seem right. Am I supposed to simply believe you? To merely keep the faith?
The weeks following my miscarriage were extraordinary. I discovered that almost everyone I know has had or knows someone who has had a miscarriage. There’s an entire community of women who has suffered through this painful life event. It’s as if having a miscarriage is some sort of rite of passage.
The first days are hardest.
Feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness consume you. No matter how many times you are told otherwise, hopelessness prevails. The hurt persists as you must re-tell your story to loved ones. Friends that haven’t heard rub your belly and ask how far along you are. You try not to cry as you let them in.
You bleed a little each time you use the restroom. You know you shouldn’t look but you have to.
You withdraw from your husband just when you need him most. You fear you will never feel romantic again.
You pretend you’re doing fine as you go through your workday. As you walk to your car your eyes fill with tears.
You forget who you were before because you know that you can never go back. You take stock of your life.
You wish you hadn’t already named them.
You accept hugs from women that understand. You share stories and you cry.
You begin to recognize that although medical science is amazing not all things in life are measurable. You see patterns and randomness in nature and somehow understand. You pray that you give this over to a greater power. You try hard to believe in blessings in disguise.
You tuck away the ultrasound photo and the knitted blanket your Mom sent.
You go to bed early knowing that one day you’ll wake up feeling better.