I have lost my keys, my phone, and arguably at times, my mind. What I have not lost were my two daughters. I always knew where they were; they died and that’s ok to say. In an effort to respect the obligatory condolences about miscarriage, I smiled and said thank you when people mentioned sorrow for my lost children, but this always pissed me off.
Opening a dialogue about sad topics is such a beautifully powerful healing tool and we are so sorely under developed in this culture that it breaks my heart.
So let’s talk…for real.
I struggled for years with infertility only to be told I would never get pregnant. I’d like to think I’m a progressive woman yet this made me feel entirely useless in a primal way. Miraculously, after years of unsuccessful treatments, we conceived with no intervention. There were no words for the hope, the love, the beauty, the gratitude I felt over this tiny life in me. I bonded with this baby immediately and I can’t explain the sensation of never feeling lonely or alone. I sang and talked to this little lentil bean and I loved that she loved vinegar and cheese then changed her mind within two minutes of ingestion. I had two ultrasounds very early because of my high risk status; hearing a heart beat was the loveliest song ever composed.
Going in for another routine ultrasound at 10 weeks I was feeling great and had no trepidation. The moment the technician went silent and told me to wait for the doctor, I knew my baby was gone.
Walking out of the office through a waiting room full of women with live babies in their bellies while mine was dead was the ugliest contrast I have ever known. I had a D&E because she would not come out on her own. I remember waking up from anesthesia wondering who was screaming in such agony until I realized it was me crying out over and over “my baby is dead.” I still cannot adequately explain what it feels like to have the life you created and nurtured and were responsible for just not exist anymore.
I was lots of things after this but mostly I was in awe of the sheer ignorance of the way we approach death in our culture. I wanted to talk about my baby and honor her legacy. I was so grateful for the 10 weeks she lived inside me and how she bridged a gap in my marriage; quite frankly, she saved me. I grieved that I could not do the same for her or her sister three years later. I did not want to hear that it was for the best or that it is the body’s way of taking care of an abnormality. I didn’t want the topic to be ignored and I found out so harshly that most people give your grief a shorter shelf life than milk. These things made me angry, but somewhere in this process and believe me it is a process with no proper beginning, middle, or end, I realized there were two ways to come out of this. There is bitterness and there is, as I have come to say, looking for the lesson….in all things, these are the options.
Here is a tip next time you have a friend experience loss: go ahead and take the casserole, but eat it with her.
Also: Don’t forget the father hurts just as badly. Oh, and put your arms around her even though she hasn’t showered in four days…and sometimes just don’t say anything at all.
I thank you, Madison and Johanna, for choosing to breathe new life into me and Daddy and for teaching us about true love and the healing that comes from raw brokenness.