It happened a couple weeks ago. We were still high off the discovery that we were expecting. We hadn’t told anyone yet. It was a tiny secret that would change our entire world. We were nervous, excited, and terrified. We were having a baby.
Then the bleeding started. We hoped and prayed that it was just a false alarm, and were anxious that it wasn’t. But the bleeding wouldn’t stop. The next few days were horrible in ways I will not discuss here. I knew in my gut that we were losing the baby. By the following Monday I had no tears left and no hope left that the baby was still alive and safe inside of me. After a trip to the doctor’s office, it was confirmed.
I had a miscarriage. I already knew it, but having it medically confirmed made the loss feel somehow truer. I was only about five weeks along, which makes this entire experience very surreal. But the sorrow, discouragement, and confusion are overwhelmingly real.
I had a miscarriage. Just writing that is difficult. The few people I’ve told have all asked, “How are you feeling?” And, to be honest, I have no idea how to respond. How do you describe the emptiness? The helplessness? How can you convey the depth and complexity of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain? How can you possibly describe to someone how it feels to become a mother but have no child to prove it? To miss someone you’ve never met? To wonder whether your grief is even valid, since it happened so early in the pregnancy? And then, to go on with your life as if it never happened?
I once read a book called A Void by Georges Perec, translated by Gilbert Adair – an interesting book for its plot and themes, but remarkable because it was written entirely without use of the letter “E.” Just imagine for a moment trying to write a book without the letter “E.” You could not use the words “he,” “she,” “the,” “were,” “be,” “then,” and “have,” just to name a few of the most commonly used words in the English Language. Neither could you use any words that end with “ed” or “es.” Now imagine writing this book entirely without use of the letter “E” in French – a language utterly obsessed with vowels – and the original language this book was written in. It’s absolutely astonishing. So, given its constraints, it is incredible how smoothly the novel reads. For several long stretches it’s easy to forget that the “E” is missing at all. But then, every once in a while, a certain word or an unexpected phrase will strike you, and you realize in a moment of brutal and devastating certainty that something is horribly wrong.
That is how I feel. I go to work, I sit in class, I write my thesis, I watch Community, I laugh with friends, I sleep at night. For all intents and purposes my life has returned to normal. But every once in a while amid the normalcy it will hit me – my tiny child is gone. And I reel once again.
Life will go on, has gone on, but it will not be the same. I don’t often share private aspects of my life on here, but I wanted to share this story because I want to remember the good along with the bad. I want to remember nervously joking with Mike in the bathroom while we waited for the results. I want to remember seeing that “pregnant” sign appear for the first time in my life. I want to remember the delight, the apprehension, the excitement, and the sheer panic of realizing we were about to become parents. I want to remember freaking out at the size of prenatal vitamins. (Seriously, those things are like cantaloupes.) I want to remember the fierce protectiveness I felt for this tiny embryo. I want to remember Mike’s arms around me as I sobbed while clutching an aching stomach. I want to remember our child that didn’t stay.
It’s hard. I doubt this will ever leave me. But as heavy and as difficult as this is, we will be okay. Life will go on. We will be okay. Sometimes life just sucks.
PS- Obviously, I relate to the world around me through words. This poem has been on my mind a lot over the past couple of weeks:
By Jack Gilbert
He manages like somebody carrying a box
that is too heavy, first with his arms
underneath. When their strength gives out,
he moves the hands forward, hooking them
he moves the hands forward, hooking them
on the corners, pulling the weight against
his chest. He moves his thumbs slightly
when the fingers begin to tire, and it makes
different muscles take over. Afterward,
he carries it on his shoulder, until the blood
drains out of the arm that is stretched up
to steady the box and the arm goes numb. But now
the man can hold underneath again, so that
he can go on without ever putting the box down.