When Amanda from Beloved Burnt Toast emailed me asking for a spot to guest post, I admit, I squeed. This girl is a great writer. She’s beautiful. I have a shameless girl-crush on her. I read her post last night, tearing up, and nodding my head along. We both experienced a miscarriage within days of each other. Amanda explains so clearly what it is like experiencing loss. It has been one month since I said goodbye to my first baby. How fitting for this to be my first guest post on that anniversary. So leave a little comment love to this fabulous blogger!
When Risa put out the call for guest bloggers, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about miscarriage, and also that I wanted to attempt to describe the profound emotions that go along with it. For one thing, Risa and I just suffered this same sad fate within a few days of each other. Our friends in the blogging community reached out to offer words of comfort to both of us simultaneously, which makes me feel like our losses are inexplicably yet undeniably linked together. Here is my best effort at describing what it feels like.
Please don’t take this the wrong way, and I hope that I don’t sound condescending, but it’s impossible to understand the tragedy of miscarriage without going through it. I’m not saying you can’t be sympathetic or feel sorry for your friends or loved ones. I’m not saying you can’t be compassionate. But to truly grasp the indescribable pain, the haunting loss, and the vast feeling of emptiness that defies the confines of written words, you have to feel it. I pray that anyone reading this never has to know what it’s like. If you do, my heart goes out to you more than you know.
In this lifetime I have suffered two miscarriages after years of extraordinary efforts to make a baby. First, my husband and I suffered from infertility. After testing, it was determined that his contribution was to blame for our lack of conception. We dreamed of IVF, that financial behemoth beckoning in the distance, luring us in with promises of a happily ever after. Fortunately, we found and were accepted into a clinical trial which allowed us to pursue this opportunity free of cost. We got pregnant – with twins! – on our first try. I didn’t worry; not really. I figured we had overcome the hurdle that was keeping us from starting our family. I was so wrong.
I miscarried our twin girls at 8 weeks, 1 day. It was the single most devastating day of my life. All that I wanted, in that moment and in the following weeks, was to be pregnant again. We tried IVF a second time and once again, it worked. This time I was more cautious, but still so hopeful. It seemed like everyone I talked to had one miscarriage and went on to have a healthy baby. Not many people had two losses in a row. But I must not be like most people because I lost the second pregnancy at 7 weeks, exactly three months to the day after my first miscarriage.
I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to explain it to someone who has never gone through it. I thought maybe I’d compare it to losing a loved one, like a parent or a grandparent or a friend. That’s when I realized it’s nothing like that. When you lose a loved one, you have memories. You have photos and videos and places you can go that make you think of him or her. There are moments when someone says a certain phrase or you hear a song that inspires you to conjure up a fond memory of that person’s smile, or their laugh or the way it felt to hug them. Miscarriage makes you miss someone you never even met.
It’s not just the death of your child; it’s the death of that potential, yet there’s no concrete image to mourn. You can imagine all these things – the way your baby would look and the way his or her skin would smell after a bath. It would make it worse to have known that baby and it would also make it better. If you had met, you’d have a face to miss. The way it is, you only have your imagination. You are restricted to the limits of what your mind can picture. And you know, deep down, that the baby you lost is so much more beautiful than you can possibly imagine.
When you’re first told you can’t have kids, you can’t help but picture what your kids would be like. They’re far away and hazy in your daydreams, but they are there. They are a combination of yours and your partner’s most significant and unique traits. Miscarriage is even more than this. The baby is there. The dream comes true. It becomes easier to picture because that soul now inhabits the space within you. It’s no longer a matter of picturing your future children in the abstract, because your child is a real being that exists. The proverbial finish line is within reach.
But then.. The dream dies. The future happiness you’ve been yearning for gets ripped away from you, no matter how badly you want it, no matter what whispered promises you make in the middle of the night to make it stay. You are completely helpless to stop this force. You are at the mercy of fate, or of God, or of whatever cruel hand is at play in this. You collapse. You crumble. And while you can’t even picture the face of the one you mourn for, still, you mourn.
Some people don’t understand this kind of loss, or worse, don’t consider it be loss at all. “You’ll have more kids,” they say. That was my BABY, is what you want to scream at them, but you can’t. You nod sadly; you cry silently. You try to suffer in a socially acceptable way when all you want is to break down wailing in the middle of the grocery store, in front of a crowd, in the middle of the street. You want to cause a scene and prove that your loss is just as real as anyone else’s. Because that was your baby.
With infertility, it’s even worse. There’s a finite number of chances. You have a limited number of options. Maybe you can only afford treatments for a short time, or maybe your fertile years are winding down to a close. Whatever the reason, miscarriage after infertility is insult on top of injury. It’s one of the shittiest hand to be dealt in the lottery of life.
I don’t want to end this on a sad note, not in the least. Because one thing that miscarriage does is that it makes you stubborn, steadfast and tenacious. It makes you more determined than ever to become a mother by any means possible. To have your life’s dream dangled in front of you and then taken away is to want that dream then more than ever. Even when you’re out of options, you find a way. Even when you feel like you’re losing faith, you dig deep into the recesses of yourself and find a stubborn flame of hope that flickers and refuses to die.
We should all take the time to mourn because our losses are real and worthy of grief. We should find a way to honor our lost children that is real and tangible to prove that they existed. I used to dream of getting into heaven in a conceptual way, but I didn’t really worry about it too much. Now I know that I simply must get there, if for nothing else, to finally see the little faces that I never got to see. I need to get there and hold those little ones in my arms the way that I wanted to from the moment they were conceived. No matter how many children I eventually have and no matter how many memories I make in the coming decades, I will never – never – forget my precious unborn babies. And one day, God-willing, I will see them again.
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