I had the makings of a child in my womb for eight weeks and five days.
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, the pain and bleeding started, and I knew. I didn’t want to know, but there it was. It was the beginning of the end of a pregnancy I had longed for and rejoiced in. It was over before we even got to speak of it, and there was absolutely nothing I could do. The idea I had gotten so attached to, the little being no bigger than my finger tip whom I had already dreamed of, contemplated naming, welcomed and loved with all that I am wasn’t to be.
As crazy common as it is among women, a little Being died inside my body last week, and I’m just not over it. The guilt came, as it must for everyone: What should I have done differently? Did my own fears about my ability to parent make it go away? Or did my doubts in my 42-year old body kill it? I know the intellectual answers to these questions, but emotionally, I had no control over my raging grief and the physical pain, and it was about the worst time of my life.
No, miscarriage isn’t fun to write about. It’s not fun to read about. And it was hell to experience.
I’ve tried to tackle other topics, tried to write something else for this week’s issue, but it wouldn’t work. Nothing came out. Literally nothing. That seems always to be the way of it: write what I know while I know it. Digest. Process. Be done. And then move forward.
So, right now I know this:
There is no ground.
Nothing makes sense right now.
And, I’m so tired.
This could be, I suppose, the rocky, hormonal lows and lowers of getting back to non-pregnant-normal. Or, it could be the war between choosing groundlessness or building up all my walls again. I walk around functioning, interacting with people, wondering why they can’t see the raw gaping wound across my entire being. How do they not see that I am ripped open? That I have nowhere to stand?
I have no interest in defending my grief over an 8-week old fetus. It’s real, and it’s working its way through me like both the poison and the antidote. The first Friday, it was the wailing pain of heart-breaking loss smashed together with miscarriage back labor worse than my 40-hours of unmedicated labor for my first-and-only-born. Then, it was the numbed-up emptiness of the next few days, the extra-strength drugs my system didn’t like, the bright red reminders and the flu symptoms. The next Friday, it was the finality of the clinic’s ultrasound, the broken sobs I tried to hide on our quiet drive home. When I saw that he saw, I let them loose, and he held my hand and drove on. After a time when I could speak, I tried to voice what this was.
“I was going to do everything right this time! We weren’t drinkers anymore; we weren’t on the outs every other weekend; we lived in our own place; we were healthy and happy and a solid, loving family with a big-sister-to-be that literally asked everyday could we please make her a baby sibling. I was going to be healthy and deliberate. I was going to celebrate every change, every milestone. I was going to do everything right.
“We were going to tell our families as a Christmas present. And I was ecstatic to tell our 4-year old, picturing her being unable to keep a secret for long, seeing her excitement, her questions, her wonder at my belly. I was going to prepare her, involve her, focusing on our health and our future.
I was going to do everything right.”
The sobs rolled through me again, so attached I had been already.
But here I am, empty.
It would be easy now to simply fall back into the old routines of worn paths with a bit more grump, a bit more resentment that life didn’t go the way I wanted it to. And indeed, I’ve already found myself getting hooked by the same old patterns. I’ve ignored the urges to rest when my body demanded it, or move when my muscles called to me, or breathe and sing when my lungs were longing for depth.
I’ve felt the cravings for numbness. I’ve wanted to compulsively shop. I’ve started baking for comfort and cleaning for sanity. I’ve been focused completely on me, building up the unhealthy walls of pre-defined Self bit by shabby bit without even knowing it.
But … that would all be denying the gift that little being brought to me. That would be saying all the pain and grief were for nothing. That would be admitting that everything changed drastically, completely in my world for a few brief moments and instead of me changing anything in return, I went right back to the same old muddy ruts. I took the comfortable known instead of the uncomfortable unknown. I stayed stuck instead of risking a new path.
I can’t do that.
I’m tired, but I’m not that tired.
This wasn’t for nothing. I won’t be a fool. I won’t, can’t go backwards. I won’t pretend that reality isn’t God.
Some little bit of that Being’s brightness will shine on in me because it came to change me.
Now, I change me. I give thanks and I get back to giving instead of taking so damn much. I get back to loving instead of being so needy and greedy. I get back to serving instead of expecting to be served. I get back to whole instead of empty.
It’s time to quit preparing to do and instead, start doing.
I had the makings of a child in my womb, but I don’t anymore. “Are you ok?” he has asked me a hundred times, the love and concern in his eyes melting me to instant tears in their intensity. “No,” I keep saying. “but I will be.”
I will be.
(Published in the December 28th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)