For the record, this blog is now three weeks old. Which means that writing here should be a "habit" by now. (You know, the whole "It takes 21 days to form a habit" philosophy.) I could catalogue all the things I've done for 21 days that still didn't stick, and they would include: making my bed, writing in my journal, serving someone else, and not eating cheese. Although, I'm consoled a bit by the fact that now I'm a mom, so I'm pretty much "serving someone else" every second of every day. This blog being the big exception right now.
I opened up my writing prompts book tonight, flipped open a page, and pointed. And I managed, somehow, to flip open to the prompt that tells me to write about death. Wow. Not exactly what I was expecting somehow.
So I hmm-d and thought and was tempted to flip through and find a different exercise. Something cheerier--more Christmasy. Something a little less... deathish. But that would make me a pansy. Besides, I do have something to say on this subject. The problem is, it isn't easy to say it. And it certainly isn't something that you fling out there on the inter-tubes for the entire world to read. But then I think, maybe I should. Because, who knows? So here you go--another journal entry type post.
It's been a year and two months now since I had an experience that completely altered the shape of my heart. It has made me more compassionate, more fearful, and more caring in many ways. A year and two months ago, I had a miscarriage.
I wonder what your reaction was to that sentence. Did you cringe? Did you move your mouse to hit the "back" button? Did you feel nothing at all? Or, if you're a member of this club that no one wants to join, did you pause for just a second?
It's rare, I've found, for anyone to talk about past miscarriages--recent or more distant. Before I'd had my miscarriage, I'd heard people say that they'd had one in the same tone as a person might say "Oh, yeah--I've had apple pie before." Somehow, the way that I'd always heard it talked about, so lightly in passing, made it more difficult when I experienced it myself, because I wasn't prepared.
I wasn't prepared for the rawness. The power. The overwhelming, shaking, trembling anger at the universe. It stunned me and took my breath away. I had not expected that a miscarriage would cause me to collapse on a bed and sob myself to sleep as I cried out, over and over, that I wanted my baby back. I did not know that people felt that way, about this.
I hadn't expected that it would shatter my heart--the first time that I knew, with certainty, that I was broken inside. I experienced the burning of pure, undiluted sorrow. The rational, logical part of me stood aside and said, "You, my friend, have lost it. You have two beautiful children, a husband that loves you, and a wonderful life. Pull it together." I felt so guilty for feeling so sad.
I went for my follow-up appointment with my obstetrician. He is a good man, and a kind one. I sat there on the table with my hands clasped together as he told me that it was perfectly common and normal. That as many as 1/3 of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so--this was my third child, it was my turn. I could hardly see straight. I could hardly breathe. I was trying so desperately not to let my grief show. I felt like I had no right to be grieving.
It seemed to me, at the time, that grief was understandable for women who lost children, infants, or even babies later in pregnancy. But for those of us still in the first trimester, it wasn't allowed. Which is why, when my doctor handed me a pamphlet and encouraged me to join a support group, I recoiled. I wasn't about to compare my pathetic experience to others who had lost two year olds or had stillborns. They had a right to be devastated and grief stricken. I was simply weak.
But I was lost and drifting, and so I did seek a support group. I got online one night and went to babycenter.com and found their Miscarriage and Infant Loss message board. I found a thread for women who had all lost babies due the same month as mine, and I posted a message. A plea. I wanted to know that what I was feeling over the--dare I say it?--death of this baby, was not strange.
What I found has turned out to be one of the great blessings of my life. That is, really, a story for another day. But I did discover that we were having very common experiences--none of our doctors had warned us or told us what to expect physically or emotionally. We'd all been quickly ushered in and out, without a chance to ask questions. We grieved for the lack of space to grieve--for all the people who told us to get over it. We wanted a place to mourn and to be thoughtful. All of these things that women who miscarry aren't really allowed. The women I met there became my lifeline and my dear friends.
So, I can now say--this much later--that this tiny life, and this tiny death, truly did shape and mold my heart. I will never again tell a woman that it was for the best, it was meant to be, or that she'll get pregnant again soon. I know that the phrase "Well, they probably would've been handicapped" doesn't make a woman feel any better. I would've taken a handicapped child. I know that the only thing I can possibly say, at that moment, is that I'm sorry. The most powerful part of that, is that I won't just say I'm sorry for her, but that I truly will be. Deeply, sincerely, empathetically sorry.