Jamie & John
I miscarried on a Tuesday. When I saw the blood, it felt like a punch in the heart.
Let me back up. 2017 had quickly become the year we were grateful we had insurance. Six weeks earlier, a bad thunderstorm came through and a tree had fallen in our yard, taking out our deck and, more frustratingly, our electricity for a week. That same day, my husband was leaving town for a week-long work trip. Like, he stepped over the tree to get in the taxi on his way out of town. So, through no fault of his own, I was left to deal with the situation (having the live power line cut, replacing our electrical box, filing the insurance claim, arranging to have power restored) largely on my own.
A few days after our electricity was restored, our air conditioning went out. Then two weeks after that, I was in a car accident that totaled my car. Then, going completely against the ‘bad things happen in threes’ ideology, my husband John’s car broke down.
But then. Then! After trying for nearly a year, when we saw two pink lines, we were overjoyed. All the negatives we had been dealt over the past month and a half melted away with the silver lining of the new life for which we had been hoping. Our 3-year-old daughter Sara Jane would have a sibling – the sibling for which she’d been asking for months. Our family would be complete.
We imagined how our growing family would feel and how fun holidays would be.
We told a few close family members and friends right away. We started talking about names and the baby’s room and how our little one’s arrival, like with our daughter, would coincide with the Winter Olympics. We put our precious one on the waitlist for child care and calculated how many weeks off from work I would take. We confirmed, again, as with our daughter, that we would not find out the sex of the baby. We talked about what Sara Jane would be like as a big sister. We imagined how our growing family would feel and how fun holidays would be. I scheduled my first prenatal appointment and downloaded a pregnancy app on my phone.
Weeks passed and I started remembering the early feelings of pregnancy. I could smell everything more intensely and I got frequent headaches. I felt bloated and my lower back hurt. I didn’t think much of it when I started spotting because I had done so with Sara Jane around the same time. But one day at work, the spotting turned into bleeding, and I knew something wasn’t right. By the time I drove home, I had a good idea of what was happening.
At the emergency room, the nurse (who was clearly younger than I) was the poster child of things not to say. “I bled with my daughter. And she’s fine.” Right. Good logic. I’m probably overreacting. “At least you know you can get pregnant!” Yep. Sure can. Wish it would stick, though. “You know, if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be.” That is not even sort of comforting right now. Thankfully, the doctor was much more consoling. His wife and he had experienced a pregnancy loss. “You know, there’s just no way around it: it sucks.” Yes. THAT is what I needed. Commiseration. Just for a second.
The miscarriage itself was hard – physically, hormonally, emotionally. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the difficulty of the after. Seeing a heavily pregnant woman at the mall. Opening social media to what felt like dozens of pregnancy announcements. Going to what should have been my first prenatal appointment to make sure that my womb was completely empty. Even weeks later, while watching a television show with a storyline about an unwanted pregnancy, I lost it. Grief can be sneaky.
There is a scene in the movie, Love Actually, in which Emma Thompson’s character experiences incredible grief - she realizes that her husband is having an affair. The moment occurs in the midst of what should be a happy occurrence. The couple, along with their children, is opening Christmas gifts. She excuses herself to another room and sorrow spills out. But it’s tempered with the effort – the need – to continue living life. She weeps. She straightens the bed. She heaves. She wipes her eyes and puts her shoulders back. She’s still mom. It’s still Christmas. There’s life to be done as usual. She attempts to return to her family, catching herself in the hall, taking a breath and shaking her hands and trying to regain herself. Herself.
This scene comes to mind when I think about the complicated emotions surrounding my own miscarriage. The sorrow is gut wrenching. A life, with all the dreams, hopes, expectations, and love that go along with it, is gone. It has died. Yet, for those looking in, there is no one to mourn. This life - this precious, wanted life - did not yet have a name. A face. A bright little personality. It’s invisible but it’s so real. It’s not there but it’s always there.
This life - this precious, wanted life - did not yet have a name. A face. A bright little personality. It’s invisible but it’s so real. It’s not there but it’s always there.
Several days, I clung tightly to wise words from someone I trust: You WILL be okay. And I am – most of the time. There are moments when I see a woman with a newborn and my heart aches. When my daughter dreams out loud about things she wants to do someday with her sister. When I walk into our spare bedroom – the one that we still hope will be a nursery.
So, this is for the mommas who have perfected the robotic response of smiling and saying lightly, “hopefully soon” to questions like, “when are you guys going to give her a sibling?” and “are you going to have another one?”
For the women who intimately understand the intricate, complicated emotions of both blissful joy and stabbing, longing pain when you are on the receiving end of yet another “I’m pregnant!”
For the ladies who, month after month, wait with cautious hope to see two lines, each month tipping the balance a little more toward cautious and away from hope.
For the ones who, after they do see two lines, feel pangs of anxiety and then in a week, two weeks, a month, the red smear of disappointment.
For those who nod and smile (but have an internal aggressive reaction) when they hear time and time again, “if it’s meant to be it will happen” and “my sister’s aunt’s cousin’s rabbit’s son got pregnant as soon as they stopped trying!”
For my village of ladies whose heads are swirling with acronyms: TTC, BFN, TWW, HCG, OPK, DPO, BFP.
Somewhere over the rainbow dreams can be draining. And time consuming. And not always as romantic as we might have hoped. And yet we soldier on, though with a different perspective now. With an understanding we didn’t have before. With compassion for a sisterhood we didn’t want to be part of.
As I thought about how to end this, I realized there isn’t an end. We’re still in the cycle of, well, my cycles. But what I have learned (am learning) is to find happiness where I am. Right now. This moment. To stop and be cognizant of my feelings. To work on appreciating my family as it is now. To be okay with not knowing the ending.