I was 12 weeks pregnant and at the photo center picking up our latest family pictures when I suddenly got that strange feeling that I had just started my period. Rushing to the bathroom with my two year old daughter in tow, I was greeted with exactly that. But wait, I thought – That couldn’t be. Entering my second trimester, I definitely wasn’t supposed to be having a menstrual cycle. The sight of blood is probably near the top of any pregnant woman’s worst fear and so, leaving my cart behind, I swiftly made my way out of the store dialing my OB’s numbers along the way.
Panicking in the car on the phone with my doctor’s office while they scrambled between all of their offices to find someone who could squeeze me into their packed schedule, I stopped at home and changed my pants, grabbed a pad and headed to their office for what seemed like incessant waiting. Waiting rooms are agony but they give you time to reflect. Motherhood is such an amazing thing…To have your heart walking around outside of your body in your children. Their smile. Their laughter. Living only for their joy. Words cannot express.
And there are just no words for that moment when the ultrasound screen lights up and that once fluttering little heart is undetectable. When there is no movement. You feel, but you don’t know what to feel. What I do know is that in that moment of seeing the flatline where there once was a beating melody, I think I flatlined too. You become uncomfortably numb. The only sign of life: the silent, steady stream of tears followed by low sobs.
It’s a special kind of torture to have a lifeless child within your own body. A child whose heart was beating steadily just weeks before. And the unknown of the days ahead. Waiting. Passing. Waiting. Wondering. WAITING. There are a million questions and no right answers. These things, they just happen. You can do everything right and they still just happen. They just happen and we somehow move forward from here. And here you are. Just here. Just waiting. And comfortably numb.
The afternoon I left the doctor, the sunshine was hidden by an overcast sky. It was comforting at least that God didn’t send a bright sunshiny day to greet me and the horrible news I’d just received. I find solace in the sky every day and I just don’t know if I could have beared to have it beaming and smiling down on me like a fake friend that day. I imagine it would have made the sting that much worse. I was greeted that night by not just a giant full moon but a red one at that. Watching as it rose between streaks of black clouds I thanked God again for at least giving me this time to bond with nature through my news and to have that moment. It’s like that “take a minute to fall apart and then clean yourself up” that your mother always told you. I didn’t sleep at all that night.
And the next day, the sun was back and my two year old was ready to enjoy it. It’s strange when you think about it. Standing there with the sprinkler on watching her play and smiling at her while you’re carrying this darkness inside of you. While you’re waiting for your body to expel what was yesterday supposed to be a beautiful new baby this fall. Thank God that two year olds are ruled by joy. Thank God that they make that joy so infectious. Thank God for this full-time/all-the-time job that keeps you busy so you can’t dwell on what is going on under your skin.
What’s tricky is trying to find a way to go back to acting normal without feeling guilty somehow. Is it okay to publicly “Like” that article you just read on Facebook that was read while you were passing time passing clots, even though it was light-hearted or borderline silly? Then you do anyway because in that darkest moment, you are so thankful to hear news or read an article that’s not laced with negativity or misery; For something positive and alive…the way you used to feel. Because it reminds you of that and throws you a rope so you can start to climb back to the light.
You ponder what’s wrong with you even though you know, as adamant as you are about personal health while pregnant, there was absolutely nothing you could have done differently. You remind yourself a million times a day of the doctor’s words. “These things just happen”. They just happen and there’s nothing you can do sometimes to prevent it.
You say a million wrong things trying to comfort your spouse and then give up and just spend plenty of time being silent, but somehow still being comforted just being together in your silence. Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes you just have to rely on the presence to pull you through; Finding appreciation in having someone else who is going through this with you so you are not alone.
You question God and then find a deeper faith in Him even though you have no idea what His reasons are sometimes. You marvel at the beauty of life around you and find a deeper appreciation (if that’s possible) for mother nature. Every tiny petal on the flowers in your garden – Life: So delicate; So beautiful. You listen to the tiny baby birds in their nests above your porch and find peace in their songs. You cry for your loss but keep faith that what is meant to be will be. Because it would be easy to focus on what has been taken away from you if it weren’t for all the blessings so abundantly present in your life.
You swallow back the lump that rises in your throat when seemingly everyone around you announces they’re expecting. You count your blessings and gather your composure and then wish them the deepest, most heartfelt congratulations…Because you now realize even more just how much of a miracle it is to actually have a baby – All of the many things that need to align perfectly to make it happen. And you know what a blessing they are about to receive and the joy it will bring to their lives and regardless of whether it will ever happen to you again, you want nothing but the greatest happiness and love for your friends. Truly.
You avoid social gatherings because you know you won’t be able to stomach small talk and yet, don’t want to be the sobbing mess you will become when it comes up. And when you do have to go out, you avoid eye contact knowing that at any given moment you may break down into tears; And are always just on the verge. You learn that you are not alone and you find a sort of secret sisterhood that you never knew existed before in friends and family who have gone through the same things – Some multiple times – and you find an even greater love and respect for them than you had before admiring how strong they are. And then remind yourself that you are too.
You watch your child(ren) and let their joy remind you that even though you don’t know why this is happening, you still have so much to be thankful for. You let their joy radiate to your soul and fill the dark crevices with sunshine once again. You stop caring what people may think of you and your toddler if she’s screaming Disney tunes in the grocery store and instead throw your social cautions to the side and join her because you finally realize: This is what life is – It’s finding the silver linings in the darkness. It’s seeking positivity in the worst of times. It’s keeping faith. It’s choosing happiness and not allowing the grief to win. It’s focusing on what you have and not what has been taken away.
You find a greater perspective in all things. A deeper knowledge and understanding. A vulnerability. A greater compassion for people… And life. A greater appreciation. An even deeper gratitude. And love…Love for life. Love for family. Love for friends. And love from the broken heart that still beats for the heart that beats no longer.
So how do you survive after having a miscarriage? The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know but, somehow, you just do.
**I have found through this experience that we all can help to heal one another through sharing our journeys. If you or someone you love have experienced a loss or miscarriage, please feel free to share your story in the comments below. And please accept my deepest sympathy. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If you have questions about what you are going through or need someone to talk to please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org