trigger warning: loss
I’ve written probably six iterations of this post. Maybe closer to fifteen if you count the ones I’ve written in my head.
No matter how many times I edit, revamp and delete… I keep coming back to one fact. It has to be written.
In the past 5 months, I have learned a lot about the other side of getting pregnant. With Fox, it took us 5 or 6 months of trying… pretty average. When I saw that test turn positive, I was pregnant. Boom. I daydreamed with abandon. I was walking on clouds (between bouts of extreme nausea). I knew that things could go sideways, but it didn’t seem real. It wasn’t something I even understood enough to be afraid of.
But, things change.
In June, I suffered my first miscarriage at 7 weeks pregnant.
I say first, because it happened again 3 months later.
I won’t lie, the losses – especially the first one – nearly broke me in half. Or at least that is how it felt at the time. I remember telling my sister that I felt like I was losing my mind. All of these hormones raging through my body… so familiar in a sense… but the last time I had seen them, I had a newborn in my arms. The sense of loss I felt was palpable. Inescapable. Overwhelming. All encompassing.
Holding Fox in my arms was therapeutic, but painful. Every spark of beauty and brilliance I saw in him in those days reminded me of what could have, should have been with these children.
It wasn’t until I lost a baby that I knew I could both fall asleep and wake up crying.
I lost all desire to do anything that normally brings me joy. It wasn’t a purposeful avoidance. It was just … who I was during that time. One of my sisters gently pointed out that this is a classic symptom of depression. An eye opener if ever there was one. I thought I understood what depression was. At least I had a sense of the bones of it, didn’t I? Nope. This is what people were talking about. I felt like I was underwater and couldn’t bob up.
Beyond all of this, I felt alone. Painfully alone. I knew that this happened. I knew that when my OB told me this occurs in as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies she was not lying. I knew women who had suffered losses.
I suddenly felt completely alone. I finally coughed out to my husband the root of my isolation. (Or at least the one I felt the deepest.) I had a baby inside of me. Our baby. And our baby died. No one knew about him or her. No one would mourn but us. I would suffer in silence as the world continued to spin round. NO ONE WOULD MOURN BUT US. I had this strange urge to shout my tragedy from the roof top. While simultaneously wanting to crawl into my bed and never speak to anyone ever again. I can’t explain it. I wanted so badly to talk about it, but knowing that for some reason NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS, I felt like I had no choice but to close ranks and keep quiet.
However… I was (and am) very fortunate to be a part of an incredibly supportive group of mothers. The feeling that I could open up to them crept up on me… but I was really scared. I took a chance (held my breath) and reached out.
And they saved me.
My news was received with tenderness, sympathy and kindness. They brought me food, sent me cookies, checked in on me. But, even more valuable than all of that was their empathy. These women opened up to me with their own stories of loss – and often subsequent stories of joy in conceiving and carrying another child. Not only did I realize I wasn’t alone – they restored a little bit of hope to my world.
And I think that’s why this post refused to be kept in the draft pile. Someone out there needs to hear me.
No one talks about this. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to – or would be unwilling when they see a friend in pain.
Whether you have a group of close knit friends nearby or you have an online group of moms you can connect with or you have a therapist you trust or you have even just one person you can bring yourself to tell…. if you can find the strength inside yourself, reach out. I did so feeling I was putting my entire well being in peril.
What if no one cares? What if I’m judged? What if they can see that I’m broken into tiny little pieces and think less of me?
But, no. The reaction to my exposed wound was triage. It didn’t make the bleeding stop, but it slowed it and gave me a chance to catch my breath.
It’s funny. I sit here typing…. thinking about how scared I was to put myself out there, especially the first time I miscarried. And here I am – feeling it all over again. I’m about to release this to the world (well, to the 6 people that read my blog anyway) and I feel a nervous twitch in my gut. The worry that someone will read this and see me as fragile or faulty or looking for sympathy or some other strange perception.
I’m going to push past all that anxiety in the hope that these words will resonate with someone, somewhere who may be looking for a bit of peace in a turbulent time. And for those of you who are not? Look around you. Who would you go to in this situation, or something similar? If you’re not sure, please do not despair. My point is…. if you haven’t built your village, you can start right now. Try putting yourself out there. The first group you stumble into might not be the right one. It might not be easy. (Not much is, I suppose.) But, if you can surround yourself with some like minded, strong, supportive women… you have tapped into something more powerful than anything I can say I’ve ever experienced before.
Because the thing of it is… as amazing as these women are, I don’t for a second think that the support I received is the first of its kind. There is something special and sacred amongst women. A solidarity that, when fostered, is a true force of nature. I’m one of four sisters. I have a strong mother. Amazing aunts and cousins. I’ve felt this bond throughout my life.
But, growing older … not being near my oldest friends… without the guise of school or work to help push me out of my shell…. making new friends has been intimidating and, at times, downright scary. The way this group of women circled around me and held my weight for a time… it was the strongest reminder of the power of sisterhood. It doesn’t go away when we grow up to be independent – to be mothers in our own right. It is out there for us all to share.
I have a long road before me. My healing has begun – emotional and physical – although it’s slow going. Some medical issues have come to light after extensive testing – I’ll save that for another post – but, nothing that would keep me from carrying to term and I have the green light to continue trying to conceive. As you might imagine, two unsuccessful pregnancies have left a mark on my body in the form of a few extra pounds. Although my doctor has told me it’s nothing to worry about I’m running again and being mindful of my diet. It can only help.
Above all, I’m trying to shed negativity from my life and get myself into a mindset where I am free of fear and welcoming of another child. Yeah, that’s harder than losing weight. I think that is another topic I’ll elaborate on another day.
But, the strength I have found in those around me is something I am grateful for every single day of my life.
I guess I felt the need to at least shout that from the rooftop.
As October was Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, I was really hoping to share this earlier. But, October is full of birthdays, anniversaries, tiny costumes and so many joyful things that I couldn’t bring myself to push the button. November, the beginning of this season of thanks, I thought it fitting to share what brought gratitude into my heart throughout great tragedy.