How my miscarriage changed my outlook on life
September 29th marked seven years since I miscarried my second child. The day is still clearly etched in my mind, bound by tissues of unwanted memory. Much in the way early morning dew clings to blades of grass before the sun can fully rise to dry away the mist, I held these scenes close for years, unsure of when or how to let them go.
When I discovered I was carrying, my husband and I had only been trying for a few months. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I was, in fact, pregnant.
I was told to be patient with my body — so patient I became.
The day I went in for my first check-up, my doctor deemed me far enough along to do an ultrasound. With my previous health obstacles, it wasn’t only informative, but necessary. I’d had minor cramping in the days prior, which is to be expected with my fickle, unpredictable body. I’ve always been the girl with the mysterious blinding migraines, the multi-month-long menstrual cycles, and GI complications that had me eating less than a newly hatched bird (or I was just plain sick for no reason at all).
Because of my lengthy history, I invited my mother for moral support. Any trip to the doctor was terrifying for me, never knowing what diagnosis would come to fruition next. My daughter, so innocent and excited, was also there so we could all bask in the beauty of this little creation growing inside my belly.
It was like a definitive line was drawn between us as her hand grazed every section of my stomach, ripping me from all the dreams I’d made for this baby in an instant. I remember her eyes, and how they dipped away from me. The complete silence with only the whir of the machine filling my thoughts. The sight of my daughter watching the screen to see her brother or sister staring back at her.
Most of all, I remember the way my heart sank when the tech could not answer any questions, but instead guided me into the farthest corner room of the office where no one could hear me cry. No one said a word, and before my doctor ever cracked open the door, I knew — my baby had not survived.
The rest will forever be a blur. I floated outside my body after the insides tightened, smothered me to a pile of ash. I remember seeing the way the doctor’s lips moved slow and steady — but I couldn’t hear the words; not really. Just the tone. The deep, resolute tone of goodbye.
The following day, I had surgery to remove the rest of my child, my baby, due to health reasons I didn’t care about at the time. I can’t remember a time when I’d ever felt such vastness within me. It was both a literal and metaphorical loss inside my body and heart, and I had no idea if I’d recover from the agony of it. I’ve long since battled depression and anxiety, but this was a new kind of devastation.
My body had betrayed me. An innocent life I had wanted to meet so badly was taken from my husband, my daughter, ME. It was my fault, I thought. All my fault. I couldn’t figure out how to piece the moments together when all I wanted to do was break apart — maybe forever.
I slogged through my days with little direction or gusto when I was surrounded by so much to be grateful for. Part of my grieving process, I learned, meant looking at what I did have; the things in front of me. It wasn’t easy or fast or lacking in frustration or complexity, but day by day, I made an effort — in my baby’s honor — to appreciate what the events had taught me, such as how strong I really am.
I eventually learned the baby would not have survived outside the womb. It was not totally my body’s fault — or my fault. While this isn’t easy to reconcile, it did help in moving forward. In October of the same year, my husband and I renewed our vows. We celebrated our daughter’s 3rd birthday. We began to pick up the pieces. I hadn’t completely healed but learned how to move forward so that the pain didn’t control me.
Over time, we continued trying and hoping and wishing — not knowing if it would ever really happen for us again. And if it did happen, we planned and anticipated what might be another loss. In late December, my doctor and I talked about starting fertility drugs to help the process. It was a road I never wanted to take, but if that was what my body needed, then that was what I would do.
Even as I prepared myself, I didn’t understand how it could happen again. Some things in life don’t make sense, won’t make sense. Still, I would not let this new loss break me again. For my daughter’s sake, my husband’s, and honestly, for mine.
After that, I gradually accepted that my body is not fit to carry life (again). As hard as it was, I had to let go of the hope I clung to, or it would rule my thoughts and actions forever.
A few short weeks later, I became pregnant again.
Only this time, he survived.