My Miscarriage: Why the Story Must Be Told and The Many Questions It's Invoked
I’m sitting here penning an essay for inclusion in an anthology called Three Minus One: Tales of Loss and Love, later this fall. Out of all the stories submitted, only 80 will be picked for publication and I’m really hoping they pick mine. I’m pouring my heart and soul into it as, I’m sure, is everybody else. But besides that fact, I really want my story to have a voice.
There's so much many people don't know about pregnancy loss mostly because not too many women are willing to share their stories. I can't tell you how many times, in the last few weeks, that I've told a woman about my miscarriage only to hear her say "me too." There are many reasons why we don't share/talk/write about it.
The thought of writing this post and clicking "publish" makes me nervous because it's not a common topic. Something to be blogged about. It's private, maybe even something that causes shame. Well, in that case, you got me because privacy and shame are the farthest things from my mind right now. And maybe readers are to blame also because we're drawn to happy posts. We don't encourage posts about personal trials and tribulations. We want to read about the happy stuff; who got married, who got pregnant (well until they lose the baby then we don't care to know anymore), who had a baby and who's sharing the swell love story of the decade. But the story must also be told of the not-so beautiful moments, I believe, for the benefit of all men and women who have or will someday go through their own harrowing experience. I can’t even begin to describe how clueless I was the day I walked into my Ob’s office expecting to hear a heartbeat only to walk out with my shattered in pieces and some mumbo jumbo about a missed miscarriage and following up to schedule a D&C.
As I stood there on those front steps outside the Ob office, my dress bunched in my hands while I stomped my feet and snapped my fingers in anguish, I wondered how my life had changed in a matter of minutes. I felt like the world had sent me into that doctor's office and spat me out onto the steps after it was done undressing me of my smug happiness. The way I walked into that place full of pregnant women acting like I belonged; sitting there flipping through magazines, waiting to be seen, feeling so full of myself, was completely different from the way I walked out - empty, embarrassed, humbled and devastated.
Jay was equally clueless. He couldn't understand how I could be pregnant one day and not pregnant anymore the next day. We both did a lot of research. And the things I've learned about pregnancy since then have left me humbled. It's not the get pregnant, announce pregnancy, wait for baby to arrive happy story I've always thought it to be.
Until the day I found out the pregnancy had stopped growing, all I knew was that I was pregnant and the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. My baby was the size of a raspberry and we had good, jovial, one-way conversations that usually left me in shameless happy tears. In a few months I was going to go into labor and end up with a bouncing baby boy or girl who would hopefully remember all we had talked about when it resided inside me, and who would someday call me mommy or whatever.
I was extremely happy and so ignorant that I was unprepared for what happened that rainy day in June. I never knew I could feel such abysmal pain. That anything could ever leave me so utterly devastated that death was no longer so fearful. And the more I think about it, the more I wish someone had warned me. At least it would have eliminated the shock element and the intense feeling of wanting to die. Perhaps it would have better prepared me for the possibility of other outcomes. At least that’s what I tell myself now but, who knows, I probably would have hated the people who tried to warn me. Maybe I chose to ignore the other story on purpose. Plus, who wants to be the one to say “congratulations, you’re pregnant, but enjoy it while it lasts for this and this and that could happen?”
Looking back, I have so many questions about my ignorance. The things I have learned in the almost two months since have surprised me. Like the number of women around me who have also suffered a miscarriage, some two or more, but have kept it silent. Apparently, we're a group called the “silent sisterhood.” It’s that thing – like rape, domestic abuse, child abuse, infertility – that no one ever talks about. It’s private because we think it’s shameful. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but the last thing that crossed my mind, the first time I told a total stranger about what happened to me, was shame. What’s there to be ashamed of? It’s not like I had an abortion and then bragged about it or fed my baby cyanide.
Some of the questions I’ve had since my miscarriage are as follows:
As I sit here writing this, it just occurred to me that writing has saved my life - literally. Just writing this post feels great. Maybe you as a reader might not feel so great, but I do. The moment I wrote that first post, with even the slightest hint that I had lost a pregnancy, I felt free. And the more I write and talk about it, the freer I become. It’s been almost two weeks since I last cried or drove really fast down the highway hoping to crash and die. And it’s been over two weeks since I felt like my head was going to explode from all the horrible thoughts battling inside. I no longer sneak off into the ladies room and hide in the stall so I can ball like a baby until I’m drained, then wash my face and come back to my desk and offer a plastered smile to those who say “hey.” I no longer get home from work and crawl into bed with my shoes on. I now answer phone calls and my callers don’t feel depressed after they’ve hung up. I’m actually laughing again. I'm breathing again, and it's getting better. I have writing and talking about it, with those who would listen, to thank for this progress.
Grieving the loss of a pregnancy is a very lonely process. Ask anyone who's been there. Unlike other deaths, people don't think your tears are neccessary because you never even met this child. Doctors will annoy you by referring to it as anything but a baby. But, for you, the one in whose body it lived and breathed, no matter how short the period of time, something happened that no one else will understand. The moment I found out I was pregnant, my natural instinct was to protect and provide. I put myself second. The love I felt overwhelmed me, I was willing to do anything for my growing baby. I always said I wasn't ready to get pregnant. And then I realized I was. Nothing can replace that.
If you're reading this and nodding your head because you know what I'm talking about, you've been there or know somebody who's been there or just wish to know more, please know that I wrote this for you. You're never alone. Send me a private message using the contact form below if you wish to get in touch, or leave a comment below.