As I opened my eyes this morning, I reached down to my abdomen and gently rubbed my hand from side to side. As has been a customary practice most mornings for the past month and a half, I wake up by saying good morning to what would be coming next June. This morning I suddenly flinched from painful cramping and my tearful eyes opened, remembering suddenly that it’s all gone. Sleep was thankfully welcome last night after taking something at the doctor’s office yesterday for the procedure. So welcome in fact that I’d forgotten what had happened, dreaming instead of a sandy blonde baby on my hip with Eric’s brown eyes and my oval face. The reminder this morning was like a cruel joke the universe plays on mothers who lose pregnancies- physical pain to match the emotional.
Yesterday morning in Pure Barre I instinctively excused myself to the bathroom. Although there were very little warnings signs this time, I had a dreaded instinct. Maybe things like this are why they call it “a woman’s intuition.” There I sat, while the loud music blared and watched the bright red warning sign appear. Scurrying out of the building, I stumbled into the dark, freezing parking lot. It’s happening. It’s happening again. I sat in my car for a minute recounting what it felt like three years ago- guilt, sadness, pain, relief, confusion and intense physical pain. It was such a complicated time back then, so different from my life now. Remembering my mental state years ago brought on loud sobbing that filled the empty parking lot. I had always thought I’d lost that other pregnancy because it was too complicated of a time and marriage, but this one… born out of immense, life changing love was SO wanted by us both. It was something we’ve wanted since we first met, and something we planned for and loved from the moment we knew.
I quietly began to drive home, and called Eric. I couldn’t speak, my voice caught in my throat and I knew he knew. “There’s blood, I finally sobbed. There’s a lot of blood.” He calmly breathed deeply with me so I could drive carefully. I began actively breathing as if doing one of our meditations… maybe by being calm nothing would happen to the baby I thought. After hanging up, I begged with the universe “Please don’t take it, please. Please stay, we love you, please don’t leave.” I called my mother and hearing her loving voice continued to help increase my hope. She also tried to calm me down and helped me get over the bridge home. Having experienced several miscarriages in her life, she knows just how complicated the pain really is. She reassured me again… there was still hope. We didn’t know yet and just needed to take one step at a time.
Laying back while the ultrasound began, the doctor had the mobile sonogram machine facing her, as she slowly moved the monitor toward me, my face crumbled and tears streamed down my face. The egg sack was empty and the embryo with the flickering heartbeat from two weeks ago had vanished. There was nothing but a vacant home for where our baby should be. Pain ricocheted through my body as a confirmation- it was over. Once we were alone, our sobs broke wide open. After pouring tears into each others’ shoulders, we looked up with love and reminded one another that we still have so much hope. Hope and so much love to give to the future, to our two girls and what might still be some day. For now, we have to grieve the planning, the names on our lists, the visions and dreams but while we grieve, we hope. Hope doesn’t quiet the pain however, it doesn’t soothe me as I sit here and cry into my sweatshirt. But having it out there, like a beacon for what might still be… is one of the healthiest things I can think to hold onto.
Since a miscarriage’s emotional pain is always coupled with physical pain, I then had this aptly named, pretty horribly sounding procedure. A manual vacuum aspiration is different than a DNC in that you can stay in your doctor’s office. As we waited for the medication to settle in, a sweet older nurse placed her hand on my knee “I’m so sorry honey.” She turned to my kind and darling Eric, “honey can I get you anything?” And in that question she made sure to remind him he’s a part of of this as well. We are enduring this loss and pain together as one team. He thanked her and we settled in for what was to come next. The details too fresh in my memory and too gory for my own literary taste, I will mention that as horrible as yesterday was, very kind and loving people helped us begin to close our most recent chapter- one where we were a party of five. At the very end of the visit, the doctor sat with us and reminded me of the statistics, some I’d learned years ago.
One in four pregnant women have a miscarriage. While this data point softens the grief slightly, I recall being shocked back then that I didn’t think I knew a single friend who’d had one. Or did I? I sat down after a week and wrote a piece on my old blog. I had women from all over the spectrum of my life reach out with “me too’s” and encouraging notes. Why had I not known how many people I loved had experienced this complicated loss? We talked for about a week around the physical and emotional assault our bodies endured, but then all of our discussions were neatly tucked back under the rugs, put back on their shelves in our hearts, not often mentioned again. But, I found myself at a party very recently, while I was secretly 8 weeks pregnant, talking to a new friend about her miscarriages. She spoke with so much hope and determination that each one isn’t a setback but instead a reminder that her body can do do great things and of her desire keep trying. I also very recently nestled in a corner of another get together and talked to my darling friend about her trials of IVF for 6 long years. The incredible tales of these families- husbands and wives alike – and all we go through for love, for our desire to spread our love and desire to nurture into this world.
Friends, loved ones, let’s not hide our losses. Let’s not feel we must grieve these painful losses, setbacks and struggles alone. Let’s not live in this world of secrecy anymore. The more we give voices to what we go through to have children, the more we can possibly normalize miscarriages, loss and struggles to conceive. And maybe by raising our voices up together during these times, the less we will feel alone and the more hope we can resurrect… together.
I commit to discussing it more often, to bringing an end to my own silence. I will need your love and support now and in the future as my fears will certainly surface whenever we do try again. For now I will continue to breathe love and hope into this pain and welcome your love and anything that any of you wish to share as well. So to celebrate the joy we felt in recent months, here are photos full of so much love and enduring hope.
Sending love and hope into the world today.