What’s to be gained from this?
Closing in on three months after my miscarriage, my mind wanders from time to time, back to the days of pain. I see myself, almost as though from outside the scene. I see a broken woman, an almost mother. I see a blurry wall of tears, and I see a cracked and weakened soul.
There she sat, piles of crumpled tissue at her side, computer often on her lap. She scoured websites like Still Standing and Unspoken Grief for similar stories, hoping to connect to another parent’s pain. She wrote and posted to Unspoken Grief, checking repeatedly to see if there were comments. (Sadly, at the time of my miscarriage, my posts didn’t get approved for weeks, and that comfort I needed from anonymous moms out in web land wasn’t received). She tucked away ultrasound photos, she talked to herself, she created drawing after drawing, tears and ink mixing on wilted pages.
She sobbed, body shaking, breaths coming in painful slices. She cried, loudly, like an animal caught in a trap, wailing.
She stared at the TV, numb, dulling the ache of memory and hopes crushed.
She gave her baby a name. She wished the world would accept it. She wanted her daughter to be recognized. She wanted the world to acknowledge what she’d lost.
She sat outside, letting the sound of the wind drown out the screaming voices in her head.
She talked aloud, to herself, with a tear streaked voice. She talked to her lost baby.
She went back to work. She faked a smile. She cried in the bathroom, dried her tears, then returned to the classroom and dried the tears of other mother’s children.
She grieved. She grieved, and hurt. She smouldered, she bled, she was wounded.
She is healing.
Now, looking back at that those days, the darkest of my life to date, I see someone I never thought I’d be. I didn’t know her then, and she was terrifying. I didn’t want to be her, but my choice was gone. I became someone I hardly recognized, and I discovered how deep grief can go.
I also learned how deep love can go, in my own love for the baby I lost, in my love for my husband, who I feared daily would be taken away too. In my love for my family and friends, those that offered strength and support. In my husband’s love for me, as he held me and would not fall to pieces, lest be both be irreparably broken.
So what was it all for? Is there anything to be gained from this?
I always told myself, on any day I felt strong, on days when I felt a little tougher than the last, that the way the world views miscarriage, still birth, the loss of a baby during or shortly after pregnancy, is cruel. We are brushed aside and asked to keep our voices down. If it’s happened to you, than you know, and here’s the club for you and your sad friends, but stay away from the rest of us, happy in the world where pregnancy leads to babies and happiness abounds. I’d read stories of women whose doctors were rude and unfeeling, of women whose families told them, this wasn’t a baby, at least you didn’t have time to get attached, it’s for the best, after all. How do we not know better how to deal with grief? Why do we fear grieving mothers, as though they are infectious monsters, spreading their gloom like wildfire?
I’m guilty of it too. Years ago, when I was quite young, an ex boyfriend’s sister had gotten pregnant. She was in her teens, her family was devastated. Shortly after the news was out, she miscarried. I can recall thinking, this is better, she was way too young. I didn’t even speak to her, ask if she was ok. It had never crossed my mind that she might be hurting after this. I felt that once she was pregnant, but now she’s not.
Last year, a friend of mine who has been aching for children for a while announced her pregnancy, and, sadly, shortly after, had to tell us the news that she wasn’t pregnant anymore. I sent her a quick message of condolence, I felt badly for her loss, I told her I was there if there was anything I could do, but I thought, oh, it was so early to tell us. How sad, she wanted a baby so badly, but now she has to start over. I felt sadness, my heart ached for her and her husband, but in my perfect world without loss, I could never understand. Since my own loss, I’ve conveyed my shame at how insensitive I was then, never really viewing her loss as the loss of a child, so much as the loss of pregnancy. Happily, she now has a healthy little boy.
So what can be gained, now, that I have joined her on this plateau where teary eyed mothers gather to weep and mourn?
Hopefully, some relief for this shame. Perhaps in casting my words out to the world I can face my feelings about things I’ve said and wish I hadn’t, now that I”m here too. It shouldn’t take a personal loss for us to feel true empathy for mothers of lost babies, but in a world where we are expected to stay home for a few days and then happily face the world again, but quietly weep, on our own time, it’s nearly a fantasy to suspect that we could understand the pain. I’m here now, and I know that pain. I’ve felt it, and I wish the world could see that it matters. Though I’d never wish this hurt on anyone, I wish the world could grasp that a pain like we’ve endured can destroy someone, and that our struggles deserve to be acknowledged.
And one thing I’ve always wanted, from the moment I arrived here, was to help the next mother. I Wished I could open up a massive set of wings and tuck underneath it all the mothers to be and mothers who didn’t get to be. I wanted to protect anyone and everyone from this world where hopes and dreams are swept away in a D&C, or packed away with unused onesies. I found solace online, once I was able to find groups where I could pour my heart out into the open air and hope it wouldn’t be tortured and twisted. I found places where women who’ve walked this road would carry my hurt gently until I could carry it myself. Once I felt that strength returning, I wished I could ease the pain for even just one broken mother, even just for one broken moment. If my words, my stories, my tears can accumulate and amount to anything, I hope it will amount to a smile on the face of a mother who lost her baby at 17 weeks, knowing she’s not alone, or a sense of comfort in a mother who lost her child through a missed miscarriage, wondering if she’s the only one who felt betrayed by her body when it didn’t let on. If even just one woman out there can read these humble words and says, that’s me, I understand, and I’m not alone, then there truly was something to be gained.
After all that’s gone now, can there be something of value to be gained? After everything that’s been lost, maybe hope can be found.