** Trigger warning **
This post includes pregnancy loss, miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, and death – which may be triggering to those who have experienced these tragedies in the past. Please do not continue reading if that is the case for you.
Pregnancy loss is perhaps one of the most taboo, not-talked-about topics in women’s health, and because of this, there is such a small, nearly non-existent online community for this special kind of grief. There are no support groups in your community, and no one to talk to. I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could help open up the dialogue between other women? If I could create this safe space for women to speak about their experiences? Truth be told, I have never gone about doing something like this for my blog, however, lately, I have felt compelled to speak out and share my story.
Over the past few years, I’ve experienced 2 late-term pregnancy losses. After the first loss, I did not announce my second pregnancy. I would hesitate to share a pregnancy publicly again. Have you ever tried to grieve publicly? It’s crippling. What should be a happy experience becomes a very stressful one after the event of a miscarriage. It feels as though the most exciting and joyous milestone in my life has been taken from me. Now, reproductive health has become one of my biggest ongoing stressors and has caused unspeakable grief, emotional turmoil, and numerous doctor visits.
My first miscarriage required a dilatation and curettage operation which is similar to what occurs for an abortion. The second time, labor began on its own, and I delivered the baby. In both instances, a complete autopsy could not be done because it was not covered by my insurance. However, ongoing tests have been conducted, during and after both losses. Although numerous X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, and tissue samplings have been produced, the answers are still not clear. Poor fetal growth was a primary cause in both cases, and there is a possible link to a blood-clotting disorder that is known to cause recurrent miscarriages.
Additionally, there are gaps in my medical history simply because I had not gone to the doctor very often in the last 6-7 years, and I had not seen an OBGYN until I was in my mid-20’s. For a short while, I also did not have insurance. Sometimes, I couldn’t afford the co-pay or simply couldn’t justify spending the money to go to the doctor when I was sick or not getting my period.
I think the biggest challenge of all is self-blame, and self-blame is a dangerous road to travel, especially alone. Before my first pregnancy, I had lost some weight after a huge lifestyle overhaul. I felt fantastic. I started doing yoga, eating carrots, and ovulating like a beast. I did everything right. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t even take Tylenol. Yet, I had become the biggest failure, because my body refused to do what it was literally designed to do. Billions of years of evolution, and every supplement under the sun, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t grow a human.
If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, feel free to share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.
Below is a poem a wrote some odd months ago titled Miscarriage Manifesto
The greatest pain of all is having your heart. beat. ripped away.
Pale and blue. Purple eyelids and fingertips. Peaceful, perfect, a piece of art you were.
It was Spring time and I was prepared to welcome new life. But, instead, a great darkness came — and it stole every flicker of light. From the pits of my chest to my womb, I was overcome by this darkness.
As you left, all of me followed.
Pregnancy loss has been the greatest loss of my life. Stillbirth has been the most difficult hello and goodbye.
Pregnancy and childbirth should be, and is, one of the most earth-shattering experiences in a woman’s life. You are, indeed, growing life! There is nothing more divine.
My first pregnancy was nothing short of magical. I was in awe of every adjustment my body made to make way for new life. My body morphed and for the first time, my standards of beauty morphed. Strength was beauty. Spirit was beauty. Womanhood was beauty. Now, I held a new found appreciation for what the female anatomy can endure, and will endure, to birth a new generation each and every day. It is nothing short of miraculous, indeed, yet, clearly not perfect, but perfect in its own way. A sprinkle of luck. A dab of chance. And, here. we. are.
It was a celestial journey to motherhood – one in which I did not reach my destination. One in which, even today, with modern medicine and medical teams, one in four do not reach their destination.
We are here, one in four, suffering from our loss — with our hearts torn from us and our wombs prematurely vacant. We live with a deep longing for our child that was not born or left too soon. We live with our failure to do what is the most natural; which is to do what billions of years of evolution have taught our bodies to do. And, we could not do it. We failed.
My chest becomes heavy and my breathing quickened as a passerby to Children’s Place. I purposely avoid the toy section. And, as much as try to force against it, I can’t avoid the reaction to pain – a squinted eye. Is it obvious I am childless?
After you left, I spent several months avoiding your photographs. I shoved every newborn outfit and diaper box under the bed. I refused to touch or use the bedroom closet — within was your stroller and car seat tucked away. I didn’t even have the strength to pull it out for donation. I didn’t cry right away, but when I did, I cried for months. I pulled the pregnancy progress pictures off Facebook, and then I put them back. It is difficult to distinguish the difference between trying to say goodbye and wanting to forget.
But my biggest mistake of all is I didn’t talk about it. How do you? Pulling these words out of my mouth is no less than ripping out my tongue. It’s trying to put sentences together from the bile at the bottom of my stomach. It’s vomiting yourself to gastrointestinal disorder over a faulty uterus.
Only now will you learn, “everything happens for a reason” is the cruelest sentiment. I think our all-loving, all-benevolent God has quite enough angels, or at the very least, can wait until old age to collect them. Life is beautiful, isn’t it? A blessing, a gift. Why would anyone retract it?
Yes, I can try again. No, that will not make this better.
It seems that I am met with unintelligent design, or at the very least, a universe that is clearly uninterested with my timeline.
And, through this internal struggle of attachment and detachment from self and child, will I slowly find myself again. Often, it will be in the arms of loved ones who loved me before and after such a tragedy. I will be met with
I will be met with good wishes, and a, “is there anything I can do to make this better”, and of course, I will respond with, “no – but thank you for asking”.