Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Miscarriage

About 20 months ago, I had a miscarriage. It was awful. It felt so confusing. The experience is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. And yet, the pain passed. Maybe it passed because time heals all wounds. Maybe it passed because of the amazing support of friends. Most likely, though, it passed because I got pregnant again 6 months later.

At the time of my miscarriage, I was in contact with another blogger who had already gone through one miscarriage and was now pregnant with her second child. When I broke the news of my miscarriage, she was really supportive and an amazing resource for me when I felt like no one else understood my pain. Miscarriage is an all-too-common occurrence for many women, but still to the woman going through it, it just seems like the most lonely place in the whole world.

Then, a couple weeks later, I got news of her (second) miscarriage. She was - and still continues to be - devastated by her loss. She hasn't conceived again since then.

I continued to read about her pain through her words on her blog. I commented often and I offered support. She never responded, which is okay. It's understandable. Everyone grieves in their own unique way. Some women like to talk their problems away; some like to keep it to themselves because if they start to fall apart they might never be able to pick up all the pieces. Maybe this was her way. Maybe she had closer friends in whom she could confide. Maybe she didn't want to find comraderie with other women who had also miscarried because talking about it meant reliving it, and that would be just too damn depressing.

The next part, I'm not so proud of. I quit reading her blog. She used her blog to get her grief out of her head. She vented her truest, rawest feelings. And I? I didn't want to read it. It was really sad, and filled with self-reflection about loneliness and pain, and I couldn't stand to know that this person was suffering and not getting any better. Really, she probably was getting better, simply through the therapy of her writing. But I'm a fixer. If someone is hurting, I want to fix it. I want to make it all better. This online acquaintance & I had the bond that we never wanted to have, and yet I knew that if anyone was going to fix anything, it wouldn't be me. I knew her, but I didn't know her well enough to be of any help. So, I left her blog and I left her depression and I ran for the safety of more familiar surroundings.

Then I got pregnant, and I absorbed all the awfulness that was my miscarriage and I focused on the new life growing inside of me. The reality of that baby I lost was forever with me, but each week that Violet grew I forgot a little more about that little baby who never was.

Then, about a year ago, while I was pregnant with Violet, I started to get interested in photography. I got a spiffy new camera and I tried to hammer out some decent pictures. I spent time learning and I joined some online groups. While looking for photography blogs to inspire me and teach me, I remembered the photography of Lotus, and once again I returned to her blog. I always admired her skills and the amazing shots she could get with a simple point-n-shoot camera.

Recently, while looking over her photos, I felt a pang of jealousy. She has such awesome skills. She has the most incredible eye for angles, details, perception. But, I mean, she's only got 1 kid. If I only had 1 kid, I bet I could practice my skills too. I'd like to see how many great shots she could get if she had to wrangle 5 kids every day.

A little lump rose up in my throat. In the instant I had that jealous reaction, I also had the shameful regret that it had ever entered my mind. I thought, I bet she would trade her skills, her camera, and the shirt off her back to have 5 kids. Hell, to even have just one more kid. She'd sacrifice it all to have kids, I'm sure.

Having kids has always come so easily to me that I often forget the pain that some people go through to do the most natural of all behaviors. Creating a life is supposed to be uncomplicated. It's supposed to be the actualization of the love of two people. And yet, for so many couples, it turns into an unromantic science experiment. Days are calculated and temperatures are taken and injection dosages are measured. Waiting. Wondering. Dreaming. Praying. But all too often, the result is disappointment. No, worse than disappointment - devastation. Miscarriage robs women - and their partners - of their hope. It steals their faith away. I can't say I'm speaking from personal experience, but just from the words I've read or heard from women who have gone through many failed attempts to get pregnant and those who've had a miscarriage.

Why don't we talk about miscarriage more, as a society? Is it because we fear the uncomfortable pause when we tell someone we were once pregnant, but then we lost the baby? Maybe it's because of the unending debate about when life actually begins, at conception or at birth. Or, do you think it's not because of miscarriage at all but rather because the whole subject of death is depressing and we don't want to talk about it?

When I had my miscarriage, some folks offered wisdom and advice (as an aside, don't do that. Ever. when a person suffers a loss, they don't want your advice or wisdom or witty words. Best to just offer "Can I do anything for you?" or "I'm so sorry for your loss." Trust me on this one.) But I didn't want advice. I didn't want to be told, "Well, God has a plan." I didn't want to be soothed with the idea that it/he/she wasn't really even a real baby yet. All I wanted was for people to leave me alone. I wanted to go back to bed and lie there until I felt like seeing the sun again. And so, I did. Then, lo and behold, the sun set and the sun rose and I didn't fall to pieces. The sun set again and the sun rose again and I surprised myself by not obsessing about my miscarriage for every minute of every hour of the day. Little by little, I moved forward. That's all I can do. That's all anyone can do.

Texan Mama


Ms. Anthropy said...

Just try to tell a person who has witnessed a heart beating, that it isn't a life yet. Tell a person who has seen their baby kicking, it isn't a life yet. Though unable to survive, outside the womb... don't even try to convince me it isn't a life yet.

And to my dear, sweet niece, that just lost her third pregnancy (all girls) I will never try to convince you it wasn't a life, yet. I will grieve with you, for those three little angels, my great nieces, that we won't see, until we join them in heaven.

Gigi said...

Very eloquently written.

We don't talk about it because it's hard. And as with most difficult subjects we avoid. I'm sorry for your loss.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful, touching post. I miscarried my first child. It was early on, but devastating nonetheless. I had already grown attached to him/her and I found out after my husband was deployed. I sent him a care package with a tiny baby shirt in it as a way of telling him and had dreams of him coming back home to me with a tiny belly. He got the package, called me ecstatic and three days later, I lost the baby. Alone. No husband or family with me for support. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through but now reminds me of how tough I really am. I made it. I didn't fall to pieces. I made it through and now have two children. Thank you for sharing your story.

Swizz said...

I, too, have had miscarriages. They are horrible awful times and my heart breaks for those people who go through them.

One of my dear friends lost her child this week. She was scheduled to be induced and went in the night before to be registered and begin the process. There was no heart beat. She went through an emergency c-section and laid her baby to rest on Thursday. It was her first.

Why do we not talk about it? Fear. Fear of falling apart (as you mentioned). Fear of hurting others. Fear that it is "catching"! And fear that we just don't know what to say (and some people don't!)

Here is what I've learned through my journey through infertility, as well as losses in general: the joy of others does not affect MY joy. It shouldn't and I don't let it. When others stick their feet in their mouths I realize that they are trying their best, in a hard time, to help me feel better. It may not be the best way but at least they are trying. And there are things I just don't understand. God has some 'splaining to do when we stand before Him! Not that I need excuses...I just want to see the big picture as He does.

My last thought: Miscarriages suck.

Jennifer said...

I can not even being to fathom how much a miscarriage hurts. I know how hard it is to desperately want a baby and to try and try and try and fail every single time. I would imagine a miscarriage is a thousand times worse.

Bridgett said...

I, as you might remember, also miscarried--before Sophia, actually, this weekend 10 years ago (creepy...I just realized that--it happened on our anniversary, July 6). It set so many things in motion about my next pregnancy--most of them bad-- and that in turn set everything in motion about who I am as a parent--most of them good. I have never grieved like I did at that miscarriage. And what it did most for me, I think, is make me very empathic about other pregnancy losses. And very careful about how I presented my life to friends I knew were infertile and trying so hard to bring a baby into their lives.

I think a lot of people think it's no big thing, at least if it only happens once or twice, and a lot of other people are so uncomfortable with death and loss anyway--and this one involves no funeral, no visitation, just oogy female stuff...that it's beyond what they can do.

There is a good chance, though we can't prove it, that Leo was two and then he was one--there was evidence on an ultrasound of another something, but already gone--it might have just been a mass of some kind, or it might have been remains of an embryo...I've let that one go, grief-wise, since twins would have done me in, and because I don't have any for-sure proof. But I've already caught myself daydreaming about what his name might have been. You know?

This life and death stuff twists us up so bad. We love so deeply and these are our babies.

Momof5 said...

I have watched a best friend and then a sister in law deal with the pain of miscarriage and of infertility. I cannot tell you the amount of pain I have felt as an onlooker (I'm a fixer as well). Sort of a survivor's guilt as I have had 5 wonderful pregnancies and children. I can't imagine the pain of your's or anyone's heart that has been impacted personally by miscarriage because the pain when holding hands and drying eyes was so much that anymore must be excruciating. Please know that this post was so what I needed to hear today. So right on. Your blog is a blessing! God bless you and your family.

texasholly said...

I had one on 4-4-04. I think about it and all that it might have meant on a weekly basis.

I don't know why it is such a secret among is so common.

Melissa said...

I don't why we don't talk about it and that's why I do, over and over again. I have had so many people react to the news (especially pregnant women) like death was contagious and they were going to catch it for me.

Also, {some folks offered wisdom and advice (as an aside, don't do that} AGREED! If I hear one more person say, oh I know so and so who had that happened or you should talk to so and so, or the worst, God must have wanted another Angel. AHHH! I'm sure part of it that made it harder for me was that it was second trimester, I don't know.

Miscarriage is so hard on relationships of all kinds, and all we can do is go little by little until the sun starts to shine everyday again.

misssrobin said...

This is such a beautiful story of loss and understanding. And so honest. Thank you for being brave enough to be so truthful.

No matter how common it is, no matter how many women experience it, your pain is unique. It is special. It is tragic.

I am sorry for all the unintentional unkindness you received after your experience. I'm glad you are doing better. And I'm so happy that you've learned so much and are better able to reach out and help others now. As well as teach those who don't understand.

anymommy said...

I've had them too. Three losses and four beautiful children. I don't know why we don't talk about them. Pain is a hard subject to broach, I suppose. I'm glad you wrote about it.

LceeL said...

I can't speak to what you felt, having a miscarriage. We had a still born girl many years ago and even though I still feel her loss, I know what my wife feels is far different - and nothing like what I feel, at all.

But I can speak to the guilt you feel (or felt) at not reading her blog any longer.

I have said, on my own blog, that "It isn't about me, and it isn't about you. It's about us."

Blog reading and commenting is a two-way street - a "give and get', if you will. If the person you read doesn't respond to your comments, don't comment any more. And if they don't come to your site to read you - then don't read them anymore.

The whole point of blogging is communicating. And not communicating as in "radio broadcasting" - but communicating as in "two way - I just called my best friend on the phone" communicating. You say something - I say something. If there's no back and forth you may as well spit in the wind.

Never, ever feel guilty about not reading someone's painful blog - especially if they don't take the time, care, concern or effort to respond.

It ain't worth it.

Bourg Family said...

I was fine reading your post until I got to the end. I wrote a post about my miscarriage.(It's not as eloquently worded as yours) People want to "help" and they have no clue what to say. I know I probably said some dumb things to people before it happened to me. It hurts! It sucks! Mine was 6.5 years ago & although it's not as bad, it still hurts on occasion.