The Other Taboo of Miscarriage: I Was Grateful
About a year and a half ago, I had a miscarriage.
It was an early miscarriage -- but a miscarriage nonetheless. There is often a taboo linked to miscarriage -- one that shouldn’t be there. Women don’t want to talk about their miscarriage experience for many reasons. Usually because it’s a personal and painful experience, and there is often self-blame involved (plus other people can be insensitive). The woman questions what she did wrong. Was it that glass of wine and cigarette she had the day before she found out she was pregnant? Was it that smoked salmon she ate? And then there’s always the question, “What’s wrong with me?” More often than not, there were chromosomal abnormalities that caused the miscarriage.
However, there is another reaction that is even less talked about. It’s the reaction I had to my miscarriage. It’s the realization that you’re not sad.
It’s the reaction of relief -- and yes, I’ll say it -- even of gratefulness.
It sounds like an awful thing to say, especially when there are so many women who are desperately trying to get pregnant. But I’m not one of those women, so I suppose my outlook and opinion are different. And I can’t deny how I felt.
But maybe I was indifferent about my miscarriage because I didn’t even know I was pregnant. Or at least, I was in denial about it. Or maybe I was indifferent because -- well -- I had three kids already and I honestly have no clue what infertility is like. Which makes me look like a jerk. (I’m fully aware that if I had no children and desperately wanted a child, a miscarriage would be devastating.)
I was six days late. My boobs hurt. I could see the blue highway of veins appearing on my chest. I felt bloated, tired, and crampy. But I refused to take a pregnancy test. I didn’t want to see those double lines searing into my retinas. I wasn’t ready to see it. I wasn’t ready to deal with having to make a choice I didn’t want to make.
My youngest child was not quite 18 months. I had refused a tubal ligation during my third baby’s c-section. My husband and I wanted to “keep our options open.” We weren’t ready to close the door yet. Beckett (my third child) was Ernesto’s first biological child. My first two kids are his step-children. I wanted to give him (and myself) the possibility of mixing our DNA again and bringing forth another wonderful human being.
But not yet. The thought of it was almost too much.
So instead I waited for my period. And waited.
And waited a few more days.
I bled a lot. My cramps had me doubled over in pain. It was as if two searing hot knives were being jabbed into my uterus. I was passing clots. But mainly it was the pain.
The fucking pain.
I kept thinking, “Huh. This is weird. My periods aren’t usually this bad. Perhaps I should go to the emergency room.”
But for some reason I waited it out.
After two days the bleeding waned and stopped. Throughout the remainder of the week, I had occasional spotting. And that was it.
And I knew.
Having such an early miscarriage (or another term for it would be chemical pregnancy) was probably a major factor in my reaction. Not a tear was shed. Not an ounce of regret was felt. I was relieved. I understand that my feelings may have been different if it were a later pregnancy or if I struggled with infertility.
But the bottom line was this: I didn’t want it.
Not at that time. Not then.
And I was grateful.
This is kind of strange for me to write about. I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby. A child that we had planned, that we had tried for because the time was right. And I’m happy. I want this now.
And I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way about a miscarriage. I know there are others. But most people don’t talk about it, except for maybe Penelope Trunk who had a severe backlash over her miscarriage tweet. And the other stories I read were of women who were devastated, but dealing with husbands who weren’t so empathic.
Source: @penelopetrunk, 2009.
As a matter of fact, when I was googling this whole issue, I kinda felt like a jerk. A jerk for even being relieved and grateful about a miscarriage.
But you know what? It was MY miscarriage -- MY experience. And what I feel about it is MINE. And I’m going to own it and embrace it.
I guess I’m putting this out there because I want to reassure some women that there isn’t just one way to feel about a miscarriage. That if you felt relief, indifference, or gratefulness, you’re not alone.
And even though I feel like a jerk -- I’m not. And you’re not a jerk either.
Read more of my posts at motherhoodismagic.com