“Babe, I can’t get up. I feel so sad and I don’t know why”.
Casey moved to my side of the bed and said, “Well, maybe you’re sad because it was this time last year when we lost Robyn.”
Bingo. I couldn’t believe it was already November. Sometimes our bodies remember the anniversaries of trauma before our brains do. (Side note, props to Casey for figuring out the puzzle).
In addition to November being the 1 year anniversary of Robyn’s death, October was Miscarriage/Infant Loss Awareness Month, and two different friends confided in me that they miscarried days shy of the “magical” 2nd trimester. I’ve been feeling a flood of emotions that seem to vary throughout the day.
Sadness/Grief/Heartache: To this day, I still miss Robyn. I think about what could have been and what never will be. Our dreams we had for her will never happen. I don’t think loss truly ever goes away, you just build up callouses so you can’t feel the pain. I think about my friends who have suffered miscarriages in the recent months and remember a similar pain. Everyone experiences grief/pain/loss differently, but there are so many common and overlapping elements. Hearing their shaky voices because so much strength is gone. Hearing self-blame and shame tangled up in their words. Listening to heartbreak and feeling helpless because nothing I can say or do will make the situation better. Grief and loss is a bitch.
Anger/Frustration: Countless times I have thought to myself how unfair miscarriage/loss is. Then I start comparing myself to others which leads me down a dangerous rabbit hole. Recently, I was on an annual mission for the Army providing humanitarian assistance at a Native American Reservation. As a social worker, I am typically placed in the drug and alcohol clinic and run groups during my time at the reservation. One of the women in my group was 28 years old with 8 children. She was currently using meth while pregnant with her 9th. The rest of the participants in my group all had their children taken out of their home for drug use. It wasn’t fair. I did everything “right”. I have a stable home and my husband and I have been trying for a baby for the past 3 years. After the group therapy session, I had to go back to my cabin and really process my thoughts/feelings. The people in my group were there to make positive changes for themselves and their children. They had their own struggles too. Also, it was my own anger than allowed me to view people from a place of judgment rather than a place of compassion. My anger also has nothing to do with others and rests fully with my desire to control elements outside my control. It’s okay to be angry…just have to have the correct target :-)
Additionally, I’m angry that miscarriage seems to be “common” and yet so many men and women feel alone. I understand that talking about miscarriage/loss is taboo in our culture, but why is it? Why are common responses, “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “it wasn’t meant to be”, or “life doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”. You know what I say to that? F*ck that. Those words are Band-Aids that merely rest atop an open gushing wound. Seeing others in pain is uncomfortable. Offering blanket statements in efforts to ease the pain make us feel less helpless when we see a friend in pain, but rarely make that individual feel heard/understood. I get it. I’ve probably uttered those phrases in the past as well.
To my friends that have faced miscarriage/loss, I would like to say to you: I’m here for you. I don’t know how you are feeling or what struggles you’re facing, but I’m open to listening to them. I want to give you a hug and tell you everything is okay, but I know it’s not. I want to compare my story to yours and tell you that I understand, but I won’t because everyone grieves and experiences loss differently. I do however, understand pain. I know you are hurting and I can stand next to you so you don’t have to bare all the weight yourself. You are not alone. Xoxo
Gratitude: This past year has brought me such joy, happiness, and personal growth. I feel like I have a new perspective on how fragile life can be and what a miraculous thing it is. I feel blessed that I married such an insightful, supportive, and amazing man that I can brave the storms with in addition to sailing the peaceful seas. I learned that ugly crying doesn’t scare away my friends and family…in fact it makes them come back with ice cream and soup (great lesson to learn). I was reminded searching for humor while drowning in grief helped me stay afloat (I will always remember my cabbage boob days). I was also reminded that in the mists of my own grief, life was blossoming around me. Two of my best friends got married, my brother-in-law got engaged, friends got promoted at work, MANY friends became pregnant and had healthy babies, my husband and I explored new countries and states, and we became pregnant again. <3
I also feel grateful to a part of an online Facebook community that has helped ease my anxieties of being pregnant. Many women part of my current/past Facebook group have survived a miscarriage/loss and speak about their “rainbow babies”. A “rainbow baby” refers to the baby that is born after a loss. I adore this term and I visualize a peaceful end to a painful chapter and a beautiful beginning to another. In addition to support around “rainbow babies”, I also see a community of such strength, resilience, and humor. Three components that seem to be necessary for moms and moms-to-be.
It is also in these communities of moms (both online and in person) where I see people speak openly about the taboo’s of miscarriage and loss. I find it beautiful to be a part of a subculture that allows for vulnerability and openness. I’m also thankful that friends, in addition to the two I wrote about earlier, have opened up about their own struggles with fertility and loss. Vulnerability is such a beautiful gift to give to someone, and for that, I feel thankful. Even if it’s a subculture, it seems as though miscarriage/loss has a venue where others can gain strength/support. I know I have. :-)