A fellow blogger recently posted a meme: “Whatever you’re most scared to write about…write that.”
I saw that and thought, wow, how appropriate: It reinforced I should proceed with what I had been thinking about writing about for such a long time, but delayed because the topic involves something unsettling, and something we aren’t really “supposed to” talk about openly in public…miscarriages.
I always tell people how writing is therapy, and it truly is.
Telling the “untold” story can be very liberating, but it can also make you feel vulnerable. Inevitably there has been something nagging at me, an internal struggle about whether to write this particular blog post. It was so much easier to write about things like co-sleeping and mom life and not wanting to go to my high school reunion. Obviously, light, funny, happy topics are just, well, easier to write. But as I have learned, easy isn’t always the best option in life, and some things are worth enduring struggle for, right?
I started my piece about miscarriages more than a year ago, and it sat in my “drafts” folder ever since, until now. I am not a procrastinator by any means, but I definitely dragged my feet on this writing endeavor. Why? Because it brings up painful memories. Because it tugs at my heart. It often brings tears to my eyes and can completely take the wind out of me if I let it. I try to push the sad, plaguing thoughts away, but somehow they always linger in one way or another. Almost daily, I will see or hear something that triggers my memory. When you experience a miscarriage, it never really leaves you. Time passes, and you learn to cope with it more or manage the stress and emotions better, but the loss is always with you. In my case, it happened two different times. In a way, it can change you as a person, especially if you feel you are not supposed to talk about it, or if you don’t feel you have anyone to talk about it with.
Ok, so yes, there’s a reason women are told to wait until they are at least 12 weeks pregnant to share the news with everyone; in case something goes wrong. I get that. Yet, if something does go wrong, isn’t that the time we need to be supported the most? A miscarriage can be extremely painful physically and emotionally. No matter what stage of pregnancy, when a miscarriage occurs, it is still a loss. It can be devastating, producing such a rippling and unrelenting roller coaster of emotions.
My first miscarriage was early on, a little over five weeks. I sobbed and sobbed. I turned to my family and close friends. I hugged my son extra tight each day. I knew I was not that far along in the pregnancy, but a loss is still a loss. Ultimately, after a lot of tears and reflection, I trusted that God had a plan and that if my pregnancy was not viable, my body was making sure to set things right. And then we could give it another go. And we did, and it worked! (Or so we thought.)
Soon after finding out we were expecting again I had OB visits and my HCG levels checked regularly to confirm all was well. I was on cloud 9. I also started buying SO. MUCH. STUFF. I had baby on the brain and was on top of my online shopping game! Tee hee. I was so darn excited and confident everything was going to be ok because a couple years earlier, I had already had a beautiful boy with a bulbous head come out of my lady parts after TWENTY long, arduous, exhausting, food-deprived (Oh my gosh, I was beyond starving) hours of labor. Anyway, the first thing I ordered online was a “Big Brother” t-shirt for my son; we were beyond elated he would finally have a little sibling. I also ordered a “belly” book because this time around, unlike my first pregnancy with my now 5-year-old son, I was determined to do a better job of taking pictures of my expanding belly along the pregnancy journey. I bought all sorts of baby books. There was a baby journal, a baby’s birthday log book, baby’s medical book, all of it. Baby, baby, BABY! Yet, driven by my excitement, I clearly was a little too organized and ahead of the game; I miscarried for a second time, this time almost double the weeks of my first miscarriage. I was numb to the world. I felt paralyzed. I was an inconsolable slug. I could not adequately describe to anyone the pain I felt, or the void, that awful void. Two of my babies were now in heaven. Why? Why? I remember laying in bed, sometimes just staring at nothing, unresponsive to anything, unable to move, unable to escape my thoughts, and unable to stop crying.
I felt mostly overwhelming sadness, but there was also confusion sprinkled with some guilt on the side; was it something I did that triggered these miscarriages? Did I not eat enough or sleep enough? Was something wrong with me internally? I was still working out during my pregnancies. Did I overdo it? My doctor reassured me “no,” but I still beat myself up. I needed to know why this happened but eventually came to terms that we do not always get the answers we want in life.
It is amazing and eye-opening how many women endure miscarriages, and it is undeniably sad how many go through it alone. Miscarriages are so common, yet perhaps not talked about as much as they should be, since they are not necessarily considered an “appropriate” topic to discuss.
Some women want to grieve in silence, and that is entirely ok. Yet, it should also be ok for those who do want to talk about what they are feeling, who perhaps need extra love and support and a listening ear.
With no disrespect intended, I just have to throw something else out there when dealing with this topic: Men, especially, don’t really get it. I am not saying they do not try to understand, or that they do not try to be there for you. I am certainly not saying that they do not care or that they do not wish to try to empathize with a woman’s plight. Yet, the bottom line is they will never know what it feels like to carry a baby or to have morning sickness or to feel your body change with the baby inside. And they will never know what it feels like to lose a baby, or the immense courage it takes when you are asked to bring the baby tissue you just passed, in Tupperware, to the doctor for examination. They will never fully be able to comprehend all the waves of thoughts and emotions and jarring memories that encapsulate many moms who have endured a miscarriage. Some men just might not ever understand how a miscarriage can stay with a woman for her entire life; it can haunt her indefinitely. It might be confusing to them that a woman can’t block that event out of her mind after some time has passed.
Women, whether it’s about miscarriages or fertility struggles or whatever the unfortunate case may be, please do not be afraid to talk to someone. Lean on those in your circle. And remember, you can try to let people know what you are going through, but you should also accept if they just don’t get it; avoid taking it personally or having it drain you. It is not your responsibility to make people understand, but it is your responsibility to remove the toxic people from your life if they become a problem with your ability to cope with the loss or struggles. Other things you can do: Journal. Cry. Go for a walk without any devices. Enjoy nature. Read other women’s stories about loss. Cry some more. Cope with it as best as possible and know you are not alone. Miscarriages never really leave you, and that is ok. You are ok to feel what you are feeling. And, you will get through it. Find your source of strength, whatever that may be. In my case, I knew I had to snap out of zombie status and be there, like really there and mindfully present, for my son, because he deserved that.
The other day I was looking for a journal in my closet when something fell off the shelf onto the floor. Wouldn’t you know it? It was the “Big Brother” t-shirt, still in the crinkly packaging. I had hidden that away in the closet so long ago. It was an out of sight, out of mind attempt (just like the big tote full of maternity clothes I hid in a different closet, and the load of baby books I had so excitedly ordered off of Amazon). But there it was, right in my face, literally and figuratively. I picked it up, held it, felt my eyes sting as I forcefully tried to fight off tears and then reflected for a moment about how things were supposed to be. But I forced myself to smile as I put the shirt far, far back into the closet (I don’t have the strength quite yet to give it away). I reminded myself this is how things are, so maybe this was how it is supposed to be after all. A beautiful son came into my life 5 years ago (although my dog would be upset if I didn’t include him, so let’s say, two beautiful sons). I am blessed.
And somehow, this is still challenging, but not quite as scary to write about anymore.
I have moments of clarity, moments of reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, and to be careful not to fritter away too much time thinking about “what if” or obsessing about “why.” I need to revel in what I do have in my life; I thank God every day for my son. He can be sassy (no clue where he gets that from!), but this boy captured my heart and I am beyond grateful he is here. I am incredibly sad for the babies I lost, yet I cannot imagine how my life would be without my son. I feel like he is truly an angel, my angel, who has my other two angels watching over him from heaven.