canon digital rebel xt
I am currently reading a collection of personal stories about women writers who have miscarried. A large part of my healing process from my own losses came from listening to the stories of others which is why a book like this is long overdue. Prior to my first miscarriage I truly had no idea how many pregnancies end in miscarriage nor did I have any idea how many people I knew, and those I didn't, who reached out to share their own stories of miscarriage and personal grief.
Some people may find it strange that I write about such a personal topic for the blogosphere to share in but this sharing has helped me release, heal, process, as well as allowed me to hold hands, and hearts, with others along this same journey and hopefully brought comfort to someone else who might have felt alone experiencing this strange and sad loss ~ the same reasons this book was published.
One of the writers in the book notes that "miscarriage is nothing if not a festival of ironies". As I quickly approach my second due date (which coincidently is close to the same due date as my first) I've been thinking about my own experience in this festival of ironies and it has brought about some realizations as well as questions.
I mean no disrespect at all to women who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, pregnancy. You are very lucky and should absolutely be basking in the joy you are feeling. I just need to write this from where I sit currently which is as someone who has felt the joys of pregnancy, and miscarried twice.
Expectant parents, in their obvious state, are coddled, showered with praise, blessings, love and gifts. Hospitals often dedicate entire floors to the many new lives that pass through their doors. OB/GYN offices are often stocked with magazines on parenting and pregnancy. Both of these places are often decorated with symbols associated with nursery's such as teddy bears and bunnies. I am told even some maternity wards have amazing views of city skylines.
However, when an expectant mother walks into one of these places only to find out that she is no longer expecting there is no gentle area for her to take the time needed to process this change in status. The same room where an ultrasound first revealed my baby's heartbeat was the same exact room I was in after I had my D&C. With the statistics on miscarriage as high as they are, I wonder why there isn't more attention paid to this subject that no one seems to want to discuss, but rather dismissing miscarriage as "one of those things that just happens sometimes."
If one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage, as noted by statistics which I was told all about by my doctors, on several occassions, why not have a small, private area in hospitals or clinics where those of us who have walked in as an expectant mother, and patient, and leave as neither of those things with an entire new set of emotions to process can go to sit, and cry and pray and take as long as we need before traveling down the gauntlet of sorts that are filled with bellies and babies?
My due date for this pregnancy would have been June 20, 2007. The biggest irony for me in this moment is I am having a fibroid removed this Thursday, the one that caused my second miscarriage, one week before my due date. This is the week that I should be saying things to people like, "any day now." I will be checking into a hospital but instead of checking into the one with the maternity ward with the babies and bunnies, I will be checking into a hospital that is also a fertility clinic. This particular clinic decorated instead with silence and zen surroundings.
Instead of giving birth to our little girl and changing my life by entering motherhood next week, I will be changing my life by ultimately being given the chance to try again. I realize how lucky I am for an answer as to why I miscarried was found. For this truly incredible gift, I am extremely and deeply grateful.... and also scared.
Innocence in pregnancy that so many women experience has been forever stripped from me leaving me with some pretty raw and vulnerable areas. As someone who wants to continue to share my story, I realize for me the thought of being pregnant has taken on a new reality. The idea of it brings up a cocktail of emotions ranging from absolute joy and excitement to the paralyzing fear of having to handle another possible loss.
My next positive pregnancy test will be sure to bring about feelings of extreme bliss... and doubt. Any future ultrasound's to monitor the baby's development can't help but bring about feelings of trepidation. Setting up a nursery is something I long to do, but in some way will also remind me that I can't take for granted that I will even bring a baby home. Nothing will make me feel okay until that baby is born alive, healthy and crying. And even then I know there will be an entire new set of worries to contend with that come with babies. All part of motherhood, I realize this.
One of the big ironies in pregnancy is that sacred time where new parents are advised to wait twelve weeks to share their good news. Getting through the first trimester is part of the innocence when it is considered as "safe" to share that you are expanding your tribe so as not to have to share your loss, or "embarrassment" as I read in one article, should there be a miscarriage early on. This whole idea means nothing to me now. I miscarried my first baby at 8 weeks and my second at 13 weeks (after those "safe" twelve weeks had passed). The thing is this, I understand that not everyone expresses a desire to post their feelings on a blog, but I truly feel that there is no shame in miscarriage and the more we can openly talk about it, share our stories and learn about our bodies can only help the millions of women who have miscarried. Remaining silent, or suggesting pregnancy loss as embarrassing, helps no one.
Someone recently said to me that I needed to "get over it already." Nice. I mention this only because I know that so many people truly don't understand that miscarriage is not only the loss of a pregnancy, but also the loss of ones hopes, dreams, and the innocent idea of what pregnancy is supposed to be. Who would tell someone to get over their hopes and dreams? I have also had one insensitive soul say to me that perhaps I miscarried because I don't really want children deep down, and another that shrugged and said to me, "well, the third time is the charm." I don't take these statements personally, though they are especially hurtful, I just realize that there are many people who, luckily for them, will never have to "get over" an experience like this and therefore rather then saying nothing, or a simple sorry, they say stupid shit.
My own miscarriages were like experiencing death. Women who miscarry are fragile. Those of us actively trying to conceive for sure, but even those who thought they might not have been so sure that pregnancy was the right thing for them at the time. Something about seeing those two lines on a test changes us forever, and when it is taken away from us, we feel broken. The same gentle ways that are extended to those women who carry their pregnancies to term, and beyond, should also be extended to those of us who unfortunately don't. There is no "getting over it."
I want to fall apart when I see bellies filled with babies at times. The struggle for me is knowing the happiness that woman may be feeling, and wanting to bask in that, while simultaneously aching for what I lost and although I feel deep down I will be pregnant again and carry to term, it doesn't take away the pain of what could have been and the residual fear of my own future baby belly. The irony of innocence lost.
When I become pregnant again, I will be sharing everything from the moment I find out. Pregnancy has taken on a new meaning for me and it is in the sharing where I find strength from those who have reached out to me, as well as for those who know what this kind of loss feels like. Being on this journey has brought with it many mixed blessings. I am not the same person I was nine months ago. This journey has changed me forever. I am still me of course, but a more careful and patient, expressive yet quiet and more thoughtful me. My priorities have greatly shifted. I still enjoy life to the fullest and laugh out loud on a daily basis expressing joy, but now allow myself to fully feel my emotions, understanding it's okay to be sad sometimes and that anger, sorrow and frustration are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of healing and growing. I struggle with the contradiction of being someone who now sees a fetus as a baby in it's early development stages while still maintaining my stance on being pro-choice. I have discovered gratitude on a new level, taking nothing for granted, and have found that my heart has opened even wider, especially since those early days when I thought for sure it had closed up shop and would have been content to live out my days staring off into space and asking why.
I have entered into new growth with my husband as I continue to listen and learn about the effects of miscarriage on the parent who wasn't carrying the baby. This one took me a while as I mistakenly believed it was somehow easier on the one who didn't experience the physical. I now understand their pain is just as profound.
I have been blessed with so much through the amazing kindreds who have come into my life through blogging during this journey to reach out and consistently lift me up with the gifts they share, the people already in my life who reach out and open up their hearts to me time and again and my own healing which has brought about tremendous positive change and creative growth that I might not have unlocked if things had been different during these months. Because of all this, I simply could not imagine not sharing what happens next on my journey to motherhood, come what may.
Ironic isn't it?