Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Unspeakable Loss

It is that time of year when we start taking stock and thinking of the things that we are grateful for in our lives. Over the past few (insanely stressful and psychotic) weeks I have been thinking a lot about about how lucky I am, and in so many ways. So I do have many things that I will be thankful for in a few days when we sit down around our dining room table to have a wonderful meal with our family.

Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that we remember things and people that we miss, losses that we have had. I have spent just as significant an amount of time missing many things this past month or so. Due to our living situation I missed the birth of my niece, my baby sister’s first child. I have been missing my grandfathers, who have both passed away. I have been missing the time I am unable to spend with my grandmother, who is on hospice and has very little time left with us. I am also missing the amazing woman who she used to be, and is no longer. But one loss has been creeping around in my head for the past 18 months, and it rears its ugly head now and then with enough emotional force to make me sob. It is a loss that seems to be something unspeakable in our society, yet so many people experience it. So now it is time for me to talk about it, and try to exorcise this demon that has been haunting me.

I had a miscarriage.

There. I said it. No, wait. It should be said again, shouted even.

I HAD A MISCARRIAGE.

It is something that is only talked about in whispered voices, if it is even talked about at all. And it should be talked about more, it NEEDS to be talked about more. So that is why I am talking.

I found out I was pregnant in the first week or so of May 2008. It was my third pregnancy, we were excited and we shared the news with our family members. I had had two healthy and uneventful pregnancies before, and had no reason to think anything might go wrong, so why not tell everyone. I was 5 weeks along. I went about my business, we traveled to a friend’s wedding, same old same old. When I was 9 weeks, and a couple of days before my first OB appointment, I started spotting. I called my mom, a nurse, and told her. I called the doctor on call who said to rest, drink lots of water, and see how the evening went. The next morning things were worse, and I went to see my OB. The worst part was that the staff treated me as a new OB patient. So here I was, freaking out that I might be miscarrying, and they were (innocently) handing me welcome bags full of pre-natal vitamins and pregnancy magazines. I was sent for an ultrasound (alone, which was a huge mistake in retrospect), by which time I was fairly certain I had had a miscarriage, and it confirmed my fears. I had lost my baby. And I started to cry, uncontrollably.

In my head I couldn’t understand why I was SO upset. I mean, I was only 9 weeks along. I hadn’t felt the baby move, I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, it was barely the size of a peanut. But I WAS upset, broken-hearted even. I was extremely emotional about it. I felt liked my body was aching. It was awful, and something I hope to never experience again in my life.

Now, it was perfectly normal to be upset, and I knew this. But for some reason I felt ashamed about the whole thing. I remember that there was something going on that next weekend where I was going to see a lot of my family. And I was so ashamed of myself, felt so stupid that I had told all these people that I was pregnant and now I had to tell them that I wasn’t. My mom and my sister had let a lot of people know, thankfully, so I was spared the agony of bursting the happy “oh, you must be so excited!” bubble. I just remember dreading seeing everyone, and having to feel like a fool. But instead, something very surprising happened.

One by one, I began to find out about all of these people, both family and friends, that had been through the exact same thing. Some lost a baby earlier on, like me, and some had to endure the unbearable trauma of losing a child at 14 or 16 or 19 weeks. I knew about a couple people, but most I didn’t. How on earth did I not know any of this? Well, I think all of those people felt just like I did. Because they didn’t tell me what they had been through in a conversation. They told me in hushed voices in the corner of the room, or whispered it in my ear when they hugged me a few minutes longer than normal. They also felt like it was something that shouldn’t be talked about.

I went on to get pregnant again about 3 months later, and then to give birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy in April 2009. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. I can’t imagine if the baby I had lost had been Sam.....or Noah....or Georgia. But it very easily could have been. And that baby would have been just as loved, just as special, just as amazing as they are. And that is what I mourn when I start to feel that ache creep up inside me. I have such conflicting emotions about it, too. If I hadn’t had a miscarriage, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and had my Sam. And he is such an adorable, edible little guy. He is the baby that makes you want to have 10 more babies, he is THAT calm and easy-going. But I often wonder about that lost child. What would he or she have been like? Was it a boy? Was it the little sister that Georgia longs for? Would he have looked like Alex? Like me? Would she have been colic-y? Calm? What would we be doing for his or her first birthday that would have been right after this coming New Year’s?

It is such a tangled up mess of emotions that it literally paralyzes me sometimes. I still feel like it is something I can’t, or rather shouldn’t, talk about. I feel like people will think I am crazy to still be so easily upset about it so many months after it happened, and especially after going on to have a healthy baby. But it still hurts. I still feel like there is some missing piece of my heart that is gone forever. I ache when a new doctor asks me how many times I have been pregnant, versus how many children I have given birth to, and the answers are not the same. I still find myself asking, “what if?”

So please, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about the fact that 25%, that’s 1 in 4 (!), pregnancies end in miscarriage. Let’s talk about the very real grief that all of those women have experienced and continue to feel. Let’s stop feeling guilty and ashamed about losing a baby, wondering if that cup of coffee, glass of wine, hair dye, etc. caused our bodies to fail us. Let’s support each other and speak out about this unspeakable loss.

I will continue to be grateful for all that I have in my life, especially my 3 beautiful babies that I get to tuck in to bed every night. Because I know that given any number of things that might have happened in my body, I could have lost them as well. And that thought will stay with me forever. There is nothing that could make me more thankful for what I have, than knowing that it, too, might have been lost.

2 comments:

  1. We lost a little girl half way through a pregnancy - after an 8 week miscarriage. I called her Gracie. I saw a video by Jesse Duplantis, someone shared it with me - and he talks about those babies we lost - they're in heaven with Jesus -He's taking care of them. When my grandmother died, I just know that as she crossed to the other side, my little girl was there, holding my grandfathers' hand. I can just see her, taking hold of my grandmother's hand in a welcome and walking away with them.

    See, my little girl isn't lost. She's waiting with those that I love and that love me with all their hearts.

    Your little one is,too.

    Now, see, you've made me all weepy! But then, thinking about her like this does that to me - because then I can share her with someone who understands that knowing, that bond, that relationship-in-waiting that only mothers experience with those little ones we've never got to hold!

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