Trigger warning to all you beautiful mothers who have babies in your hearts and minds, but not in your arms.
This was so hard to write. Even three years out from having a miscarriage, I still grieve when I dig in deep to this story. But with tear pooled eyes and quivering lips I lay down this emotional labor as a gift to give even just one mother the peace of solidarity, the courage of women who have walked this loss before and the voice to say that your child’s life and your grief as their mother matters. All of this is written with much empathy and overwhelming love, dear sister in this loss. Telling our stories is so hard, but there is healing in the hard release of bottled up pain.
When It Began
I will never forget when it happened. I distinctly remember I was standing at my kitchen sink, washing the dishes that I couldn’t quite puzzle-piece into my already tightly packed dishwasher.
Joy overcame me. Cruel, oblivious joy. After weeks on end of horrendous nausea and overwhelming lethargy my pregnancy symptoms finally, and very instantaneously, let loose.
I smiled warmly as I looked outside; the branches just outside my window swayed in the breeze, echoing my body’s soothing side to side dance.
My smile stayed with me for another hour as I prepped freezer meals for when our baby would be born. All this energy allotted me the opportunity to get so much ready for this tiny, precious being’s earthside-entrance.
I had begun to roll out dough for dumplings when I felt the trickle down the inside of my leg. I stopped the rolling pin mid push and tears began to roll down my face. Just as instantly as my pregnancy symptoms disappeared, so did my joy.
From Panic to Plan
I had three babies come earthside before this tiny, precious being, so I knew that what was escaping my loins should not be happening in this moment. Grief gripped my throat as I closed my eyes in disbelief that I didn’t see this coming, that I had the audacity to feel joy just moments before.
Panicked, I tried to process thought through my overwhelming emotions. My first thought was to call my beloved, the man who was also losing a child. The man who was a steadfast rock in the storm from the moment he heard me plead, “Come home.” Through grasping air and tear-laced cheeks, I told him what was happening.
My second thought was to call my best friend. She had had a miscarriage years prior. She would know how to straighten my thoughts in this chaos and get me from ‘what do I do’ to ‘this is the plan’.
“Call your doctor, get an appointment and I’ll watch the kids.” She said empathetically.
I sat on the ultrasound bed with my eyes still puddling with tears, and my husband’s fingers entwined with mine.
Hope that our child was still sweetly growing, safely inside my womb circled the drain as the technician’s wand circled my belly.
The technician’s tone went from friendly to stringent professional after a few glances of the screen. I knew by the change in her voice that we were not leaving that visit with good news. My eyes closed tight as the technician left to get the doctor. The tears puddled in my eyes escaped down my cheeks and my sweet man grasped my hand tighter in response.
I refused the doctor’s recommendation of a D&C and I did not want to take misoprostol, a pill to help aid my miscarriage. I wanted to go home to naturally miscarry in the peace of my own surroundings.
Enduring Pain to Avoid Surgery
Painfully, I attempted to naturally miscarry on my own. Contractions like that of labor hit me and I whaled in both physical and mental anguish as each one rolled in. My body shook under both shock and pain. After hours of contractions, my body finally let loose and I slept.
My husband and I went back to the doctor’s office again the following day to have the technician butter my belly but this time not in search of life, but in search of a void. My sweet man and I ached with grief at this thought.
Life and void were neither present. All that pain I had endured did not work; I was not able to completely miscarry naturally on my own.
Reluctantly I agreed to take the pills home to help me medically miscarry but still refused a D&C. I was scared and heavy-hearted so I reached out to a girlfriend who was bravely public about her miscarriages. Knowing that she had to take the pill I was about to, I thought she would be able to give me peace in abolishing the novelty of it all.
Having courage from this dear friend I took the pill and waited for the contractions. Hours passed and nothing happened. Disheartened, I knew what was next. The D&C I desperately wanted to avoid was my next and only option.
I was so nervous laying in that hospital bed waiting for a surgical room to become available. To the point that the doctors gave me medicine to calm my nerves before they wheeled me back. Loopy they shifted my body from the bed to the surgical table and through tears I drifted to sleep.
Once in the recovery room, I awoke to my sweet husband holding my hand. I was loopy from the anesthetics but I remember how present he was in my absent-mindedness.
I was so worried about having a D&C, but it was the least challenging of the three ways I attempted to miscarry. With a D&C, I got to sleep through the completion of my miscarriage. The father of my children got to sit in the discomfort of worry and sorrow, surrounded by strangers. Honestly, I think I’d rather be in my shoes than his at that time. Though he was in emotional pain and in my opinion got the shorter end of the stick having to sit alone, and awake, in the hospital waiting room, he remained my steadfast rock. He never once implied he struggled more than me; he simply, yet profoundly, held my hand through it all.
Stewardship and Gained Perspective
Once home and healed physically, I was intentional to invest in self-care. I booked an appointment with my good friend, Jill Nijakowski at Colour Lust Hair Studios to do my hair. I felt ugly and ruined from what my body had done and needed someone to help put me back together. Not that a fresh cut and color can make a mother forget her lost child–a mother never forgets. Jill made me feel like a woman again, like I was worth the investment of time and effort of her kindness and talent. She held space for my tears and helped me smile at my reflection. Self-care is not a selfish pursuit, it is being a virtuous steward of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Jill, bubble baths, books, walks through my local park and people surrounding me with love and compassion helped me refill my cup with authentic joy.
Countless friends came bearing flowers, cards, poems, food, gifts, and the most precious commodity, their time. I would never wish this loss on anyone, but this loss has opened up a whole new sisterhood of women who understand this valid loss and love each other fiercely through this pain. A sisterhood of mothers who freely give their stories and emotional labor to help break the fear of novelty for mothers newly entering this club that no one wants to join. A club that will only open up through our bravery in speaking our stories to others rather than silently processing our grief alone.
Eleven months after the loss of our child, we brought home our rainbow baby. Honestly, at first, I struggled with guilt over the joy I felt in having this child.
Had my other child not passed away, this beautiful boy would not have been born. Joy and sorrow sat side-by-side in my processing of this new little earthside life.
With intentional processing out loud with my support system, I was able to ditch the guilt that was not mine to carry.
My husband and I have regained our hope that we lost years ago on that ultrasound table; the hope that someday we will get to hold our sweet baby in our arms. Until that day, we are a contented family of five.