It’s been one week since I watched an ultrasound screen monitor, confused and sad, as the technician told me there was no heartbeat. I was 12 weeks pregnant, and I was anticipating the hopeful relief of the second trimester as well as welcoming a new child to our family in June.
Four days later, I went in for a Dilation and Curettage (D&C) surgery, and while the physical healing and recovery was much faster than I expected, the emotional recovery caught me off guard.
Three years ago, we drove to the hospital to deliver our daughter, and this week at the same hospital, I changed into a gown and laid on a hospital bed, wishing I was there six months from now instead. When they put the wristband on me, I remembered all the times my wristband was scanned and then Zadie’s was scanned to match me. Ben commented on how the smell of the hospital soap reminded him of those first few days with Zadie.
I never thought about what it would be like to be pregnant in the morning and then not pregnant the same night without a tiny baby to hold. I had thought about how miscarriage is something that happens and doesn’t really always get talked about, but if I’m being honest, I never really believed it would happen to me.
I have really been trying to give myself permission to be sad about this loss. I am beyond grateful to have Zadie to hug and squeeze, but this pain is still real for me. I’ve had a number of losses in my life- all relational. Parenting is a soft spot for me- a pretty tight corner where vulnerability meets pain meets tension. Becoming a mom catapulted me into a process of healing much of my childhood pain- I never expected a newborn baby to bring me that much joy. I was ready to try again, to expand my heart’s ability to love and to be loved.
Miscarriage two weeks before Christmas is hard both in the sense that we’re anticipating the birth of baby Jesus and in the sense that this holiday season makes winter more bearable for me and has now been tainted by medical heartache. But the hardest parts about this experience were coming to terms with unmaking all the plans I had been weaving together- my own anticipations about which months would be milestones, what size fruit the baby was each week, how next summer would be perfect timing, how I could maybe work part-time next year, and how I would get to be pregnant alongside some of my friends. It was hard to accept that the last three months have been really hard on my body- extreme fatigue and morning sickness- and it definitely makes me question why. Miscarriage can happen in about 15-20% of all diagnosed pregnancies and every person will respond in their own way.
Part of me really wanted to go back to work and to keep doing what I try to do- bring joy and life into this world through my interactions and relationship building. But I haven’t had the energy to really invest in my students this week, so I stayed home. I was surprised at how much time I needed to let myself grieve what could have been because what I had wanted was to bring joy and life into this world through a new baby. And that didn’t happen.
When I found out I was pregnant with Zadie, I felt depressed. It was unplanned. I was 22. I was a first-year teacher. I didn’t tell anyone at my job till I was 5 months pregnant and really couldn’t hide it anymore.
But this time was so different. I started telling friends and family about the pregnancy as early as the day I took the test and in the weeks that followed. I knew this was “breaking the rules” but I honestly felt so much joy, and I’m a terrible secret keeper. I never believed anything bad would happen with the pregnancy, but even if it did, I wanted people I loved to feel the excitement with me instead of only hear the hurt or never hear the hurt if it didn’t last.
I’m honestly so glad I had such a wide support system when I did learn sad news. We have received so much prayer, so many meals, encouraging notes, flowers, candy, thoughtful gifts. And while it doesn’t replace the baby we wanted, it has been really comforting.
When I met the OBGYN who would perform my surgery, she cried. It made me cry. She said, “Let me get us both a tissue. I’m so sorry that this is a part of your story now when you were expecting something so different.” She was so personal, compassionate, and present. I felt so cared for, so seen.
And even in the midst of our little family’s tragedy, I felt so loved. Miscarriage is a part of my story now and while I’ve been traveling the waves of tears and facts, I’m reminding myself all of it is okay. Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are.