The Miscarriage of a Dream
Around this time each and every year, for the past 11 years – I am overwhelmed with a sadness of "what could have been."
11 years ago, I had a miscarriage. For me, it wasn’t the run of the mill miscarriage (not that there IS such a thing) that happened a few days after my period was late. I had already seen the baby on an ultrasound and had already heard the heartbeat several times. I was already knee deep in the planning and exhilaration of expecting my third child. He or she was due in March, on my grandmother’s birthday – the month of my own birthday, and I was smitten with pregnancy bliss.
Even so, I had to admit that the entire pregnancy felt off. My doctors kept telling me that each and every pregnancy was different and that all of the tests and ultrasounds etc. were showing nothing but a normal pregnancy. Even though I needed to buy maternity clothes, I waited, always superstitious, until I had past the first trimester to go shopping. And on the very day that I went out and bought some maternity jeans and tops, I found myself in a hospital staring at an ultrasound screen that was void of movement. The feeling was heart shattering and rattled me down to my bones.
I fell to pieces. In fact, I was so distraught that the hospital staff gave me "something" to calm me down. Weirdly enough, that same night my husband’s entire extended family was at the hospital, waiting on the birth of his cousin’s child. As they meandered to my room to share condolences, I was overwhelmed with such a wide range of emotions – from shame and guilt to despair and agony, that I wished momentarily I was dead.
Of course, the world around me said all of the things they were supposed to. You know, things like “It just wasn’t meant to be,” “God has a different plan,” “You will have another baby,” “Maybe there was something wrong with the baby,” “You already have two healthy children,” and so on. All I heard was blah, blah, blah. These were not things I wanted to hear at the moment. And frankly, they didn't help even though they were said with good intentions.
And sadly, many of the doctors in the OBGYN community aren’t much help either. In fact, to them, dealing with women who miscarry is simply part of the job description, and they are so removed from the emotion that they don’t really think about the way the expecting mother is feeling.
When I got home the next morning, I started painting my entire house. I was angry beyond words. It seemed like everywhere I went I saw pregnant woman or newborn babies. I even decided, in my anger, that I deserved to be pregnant more than they did. My hands would sweep my "just yesterday" pregnant belly, and I would feel forced to push back tears. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, didn’t want people to ask me questions, and certainly didn’t need any more reminders about what could have been. So I painted. And painted. For weeks.
It was, by far, one of the hardest expereinces in my life so far.
It was the loss of a dream. It felt like failure. It felt unfair. It felt mean. It felt wrong. I felt like I had imagined the whole thing. I felt confused and alone, and strangely ashamed and worried how I would tell the people that knew I was pregnant, that I was no longer.
Any woman who has experienced a miscarriage knows the feeling.
My advice is to grieve. Grieve for your loss in the ways that you have to. This way you can heal. Ignore the people that just want you to "get over it" because it is uncomfortable for them. The loss, suffered from a miscarriage, is completely REAL and is no different than it would feel to lose a child. Essentially, whether you are dreaming of a child or have a child, you are already a mother.
One morning, I woke up with my maternity jeans and tops in hands and went back to the store to return them. It was one of those stupid things that I just felt like I had to do. I took the money I got back, stopped by a nursery, and bought a small tree. I don’t know why; it just felt right at the moment. The amazing thing is that every March, just when my baby would have been born, this tree breaks out in such beautiful blooms that it becomes impossible to ignore. I imagine that these rich pink fragrant blooms are signs from God that the baby I lost is reaching out to me. And it gives me peace, still today.
I did go on to have more children without incident, which honestly is still of little condolence. And on my charm bracelet, right next to the charms with all of my children’s names on them – is an angel charm in memory of the baby I lost. While I never got to meet him or her, he or she has certainly played a part in my life as a mother.
Have you suffered a miscarriage? What has helped you get through, and how did you "grieve" your loss?