Miscarriage. The word no pregnant woman ever wants to hear. That simple word doesn’t do justice to the void, the emptiness, the pain that follows it. Miscarriage – Webster uses the synonym “failure” as if you could have done something differently. As if eating more protein, getting more rest, or avoiding stress would have saved your baby. It wouldn’t.
What do you do after a miscarriage? The stigma surrounding the word tells you that you keep your mouth shut. That you carry your grief silently. It is, in my opinion, one of the biggest losses a person can experience yet there is no closure, no comfort, no acceptable time period for grieving.
Four years ago I thought there was a chance God had decided that I wasn’t worthy of taking the motherhood journey. After three losses, three crushed dreams, three silent grieving periods, I began to accept the possibility that it just wasn’t in the cards. The plan I had for my life, the vision of who I was, the mom I always wanted to be, was slowly dying. I survived by holding on to whatever small tattered remains I could of that dream. I held onto the knowledge that I was meant to be a mom. The day I held my son, I understood for the first time why it had never worked out before. When I looked into his eyes I knew I wasn’t just meant to be a mom, I was meant to be his mom and the stars had to align just right for that to happen. I told myself after that day, it would never matter if I got to be anyone else’s mom because I finally got to be his.
I didn’t realize at the time that in the years to come, my heart would long to hear him play with someone else. That I would come to the realization that there was room for more than just one. So when I became pregnant again, I felt relief that I could give our family the gift of another child. When we lost that pregnancy, I survived by reminding myself of the promise I had made so many years ago when my son came. The promise that it was okay if I never got to be anyone else’s mom. I reminded myself daily of how lucky I was because I had him and some women don’t ever get that.
That’s what we do to survive. We hold onto the things we have and we work everyday to let go of the things that aren’t meant for us.
Most recently, we were excited to learn that not only did we have a viable pregnancy, we heard a beautiful, strong heartbeat. We waited until we had heard more than once to share with family and friends. After a recent ultrasound (viability ultrasound as they call it, also a terrible term) our doctor called to tell us that our baby had a wonderful, strong heartbeat but I have a subchorionic hematoma which is a collection of blood below the chorion, or placenta, which develops naturally as an embryo implants into the uterine lining. It will go one of two ways, my body will absorb it or it will cause complications later – for now all we do is monitor. I sat with that for awhile. I rationalized with myself but not before I did what we all do – cried a few tears, silently screamed about how fucking unfair it seemed, got angry at myself, my body, and then I pulled it together and called my husband, considered calling my mom or grandma and realized I could call neither. I realized my only option is to hold onto the things I can and let go of the things not meant for me. My only option is to put hope and love into this baby. My only option is to continue to advocate for women like me who don’t know who to call or where to find their support system in moments like that. My only option is to continue to destigmatize the words miscarriage and complications so women can tell their friends, in laws, or coworkers about their situation without hesitation or reservation. My only option is to survive but my goal is that no woman ever has to do that alone without a tribe surrounding her.
I have faith that our baby will be just fine, but I want every other woman to know that she will survive the loss, the grief, and the pain and she doesn’t ever have to do it alone.