I, for one, am not sad to see 2013 go. It’s been a rough year for me. I haven’t been blogging about it – haven’t been blogging about much of anything, actually – and I think it is time for an update. 2013 started with a miscarriage in progress, finally ending with a D&C on January 4. I grieved that lost pregnancy openly on this blog. It was therapeutic for me to blog about it and to feel support from women who had had similar experiences, or at least had empathy for the magnitude of love and hope that comes with a pregnancy. I started to feel better. I was confident that I would be pregnant again soon, and that was the obvious way to fill the gaping hole in my heart.
In the spring, I watched seedlings poke through wet dirt. Our neighborhood burst with color and new life, and I felt hopeful. But as the days grew longer and hotter, I felt sadder and sadder. I still wasn’t pregnant. My previous due date came and went, now just another day, but such a heavy one for me. Cee and I sorted through newborn clothes in our hot attic, not for a new baby for our family, but to lend to a friend. Cee asked to keep a few onesies for her baby doll. I showed her how to fasten the snaps and then sent her downstairs so I could cry.
In August, I had another miscarriage, this time very early. Then, another one in October, early again (and thankfully spontaneous) but far enough out that I let myself think ahead to another summer due date. That one really crushed me. I know miscarriage is common, and it’s easy to chalk the first up to bad luck. But by the third time around, I had really lost faith in my body. It has failed, repeatedly, to do one of the things I feel it was always meant to do. I’ve always wanted children, and the family that I have, for which I am exceedingly grateful every day, doesn’t feel complete. There’s still a gaping hole here, and it’s only gotten bigger.
Meanwhile, Cee turned three in November. I know my sadness has affected her, and it’s affected my parenting, because my emotional reserve is just plain depleted. I am working hard at being enough for her and at assuring her that she is enough for me. (And she is. She really is. I’ve come to terms with that, most days anyway.) Read more
I wrote my last blog post before going in for a D&C last Friday. The procedure itself was simple and quick. I “fell asleep” with the warm hand of my OB holding mine and woke up from general anesthesia feeling an inevitable emptiness but some degree of peace. At home, I ate a piece of toast, crawled into my own bed and woke up four hours later. What greeted me were your comments and emails of sympathy, empathy, and heart. There were a lot of them, some from people I have known for decades and some from readers that I had never heard from before, but I read every single one before I got up to face the afternoon.
The resounding message was this: You are not alone.
I was nervous about writing about miscarriage, but once it was out there, I felt nothing but support. It made me wonder why we hesitate to share this kind of hurt. It is personal, and it does seem strange to tell the whole world that I’m grieving. But the world is full of hurt. What’s wonderful is that so many people are willing to share a bit of mine – even the smallest bit – and enough people doing that really does make me feel better. I didn’t anticipate that writing about miscarriage here would be so therapeutic. The writing itself is actually sort of painful, in a good way I guess, but sharing the experience has been healing. Read more
It has been a hard couple of weeks for me, even with all the warmth and joy of the holidays. On December 21, 10 weeks into pregnancy (as yet unannounced here), we watched as my OB scanned my uterus. We saw the dark gestational sac and a small clump of embryonic tissue. There was no heartbeat, and the embryo measured at about 5 weeks. It hadn’t developed beyond that. This pregnancy would not be ending with a baby.
I’m a very cautious person when it comes to celebrating pregnancy. I didn’t really relax into my pregnancy with Cee until I saw the normal fetus at our 20-week ultrasound. I have had several close friends suffer the loss of miscarriage (and go on to have beautiful, healthy babies, I will add). I know that among clinically recognizable pregnancies (not counting the 30-50% of conceptions that never implant), about 15-20% will not survive. Even as I shared our pregnancy news with our close family and friends, I reminded them of this fact.
Although a part of me was prepared for this outcome, there was really no way that I could prepare myself for how it would feel. I have a profound sense of losing something important. Tiny as it may have been, it was part of me and part of Husband, and it was growing inside of me, if only for a short time. The wonder of pregnancy has been replaced with the vision of that ultrasound: the gestational sac a gaping dark hole, what remains of the embryo little more than a smear. Empty, dead, inevitably transient.
This is the grief of pregnancy loss, something so many of us must face as we try to build our families. What it speaks to, more than anything, is the power of a parent’s love, even for an embryo whose heart never beats. For many parents, it is the struggle to conceive, and after that, it is the fragility of human life. And even as our healthy babies become children and our love grows beyond the bounds of what we thought was possible, we know we are vulnerable to loss. It is the reason that it felt unbearable to be a mother on the day of the Newtown school shooting. This is family. This miscarriage, it is a small loss, but it still sure hurts. Read more