A while ago, before this debacle of an international move began, I wrote a post about announcing pregnancies and talking about miscarriages. While I didn’t get any comments about the post on the blog, I heard a lot from friends via Facebook and email, most of whom had lost a pregnancy at some point. Hearing all these stories, even if they were just one or two sentences, broke my heart. It also made me want to create a space to share them.
I’m so honored to share the first in what I hope will become a series of stories about pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, infertility, surrogacy, adoption, loss, and even the decision not to have children. Sharing stories can bring us together; sharing stories can help heal us; sharing stories can help us see something we may have missed, in ourselves or in others.
I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. It was after about one-and-a-half years of a very long and very difficult journey with infertility, and I was pretty devastated. I was SO unspeakably glad that I had not told anyone about my pregnancy. It gave me control over who I told and when.
One of the things I discovered when going through fertility issues is that many people don’t seem capable of being present with another person’s grief in the way that I find helpful. The words that were most helpful during the hardest parts of the fertility stuff and also in the miscarriage stuff were, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It sucks. I love you and I’m here for you”. That’s it, nothing more. I had already heard so many well-intentioned and loving words that were like daggers through my heart. Perhaps more importantly for me, when processing a difficult situation with someone else, my thought process would be led to a place that was dictated by another person’s perception of how I should feel: “aren’t you scared about —?”; “have you thought about —?”; or “why don’t you —?”
My miscarriage pierced through me in a way that few things had, and of course, it happened in the context of fertility issues and desperately wanting to become a mom and start a family. Personally, I feel that miscarriage is a topic that people universally agree is awful. Fertility issues, however, seem to be harder for people to understand or empathize with. And I was still dealing with both.
For about a month, I couldn’t speak about it, other than with my husband, who was also going through it. For that month, I felt that I let myself fully “Be” with my sadness, with my wordless ache, with my devastation, in a way that requires no words, no reflections, just Being. Feeling and passing through emotions. Zero judgements.
Once I started to emerge from that, I could share with others, but on my terms. I was fortunate in that many of my friends had shared their miscarriage stories, so I didn’t feel alone with the miscarriage the way that I had with fertility issues. But still, every person’s experience is so unique to their context. So I didn’t really want other people’s reflections during that month of grieving. (Although as I say this, I remember that I did reach out to one friend who had been through a miscarriage and who I knew would be helpful and supportive).
The other part that was a godsend was the fact that no one at work knew. No one knew about the fertility stuff either. So while I was going through a lot of difficult issues (some surgeries, a couple of cancer scares, new and confusing diagnoses, the miscarriage and a complicated post-miscarriage course), I was able to show up at work and leave all of that behind. Even on the day that I received the news that all was not well with my pregnancy, I remember so vividly hearing the doctor’s words, having an out-of-body experience because the pain was just too strong to take in—and an hour and a half later, I walked into work and cheerfully smiled at everyone like it was just any other day.
That whole week I cried every day to and from work, but work was a blessed sanctuary in which I could just be the part of me that had nothing to do with fertility or miscarriage. I found myself laughing and playing with the kids because that’s simply what my job requires of me, and there was a certain kind of healing and soothing that came from being forced to be the part of me that had nothing to do with procreation. I was able to be present in that space, and I don’t think I could have done that if everyone knew what was happening and asked me, “how are you?”
Many thanks to my friend, who would like to remain anonymous, for having the courage to share her story.
If you have a story about pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, surrogacy, adoption, loss, or remaining childless that you’d like to share, please email me, find me Facebook, or otherwise get my attention. I’m also interested in hearing from fathers or partners.