Normalize Miscarriage Conversations
The following is a post I wrote two years ago. It is actually pretty wild to think that this is something I wrote two years ago because the person I am today is vastly different. I have grown through the pain I can clearly read in these words. I have learned so much about myself, grief, growing through grief, and healing. While I have truly learned to live with the forever pain of losing my baby, I think it is important for other women to see these words and not only understand that they aren't alone, but to know that it does get better. Disclaimer: I did not change a single thing in this post because reading as I am now I could genuinely feel my anger and I want you to know that's okay! If you are someone who has experienced a miscarriage and you are struggling, this is a safe place. If you feel comfortable please join in a chat in the forum, but if you need to talk more privately message me here and scroll to the bottom!
I have stared at this screen a million times trying to write this post. I have spent at least the last 30 minutes typing a few words and then hitting backspace because I genuinely do not know what to say. What is there to say? I was the happiest I have ever been when I was pregnant. I felt genuine joy and excitement. I made plans, imagined their face, and made up a whole new life in my head. In one little sentence, six words, and my entire world came crashing down. "So, I don't see a heartbeat"
There is no easy way to talk about this. I haven't written this post because it has been, still is, too hard to come to terms with. I have learned a few things since my miscarriage. One of the big things I have learned is how often miscarriages happen. Everyone knows someone, or has their own story, but no one ever talks about it. The conversations never happen and that is something I want to change. Miscarriages are so common, but we don't talk about it. There aren't studies being done to lessen the percentage. No one is fighting to find out why it happens so frequently. It seriously perplexes me. Why are we as women just accepting this?
Another thing that has become abundantly clear is that not a single soul knows what to say when you tell them you have miscarried. Let me give you the list of phrases that EVERY person used:
"I'm so sorry"
"Everything happens for a reason"
"God has a plan"
"You will be a mom someday"
"Maybe you weren't ready"
That is just to name a few. As the woman who has been on both sides of this conversation I can honestly say that all of those phrases above make me want to scream loudly in your face. Let me unpack the feelings of a woman who has suffered a miscarriage for you. First let me preface this by saying that I am well aware that everyone had ONLY good intentions and everyone did want to help. I think it is important though to talk about this because even the most well intentioned phrase can do more harm than good. When your response to someone who has suffered the loss of a child is "I'm so sorry" its enraging. YOU ARE SORRY?! Cool, thanks, me too. When you tell me "everything happens for a reason" Oh? Can you tell me what that reason is? Do you have a GOOD reason as to why my baby died that will make sense? NO?! Then please shut the fuck up. Using "God's plan" as the reason to why my baby died makes it even worse. So what you are telling me is that it was in fact God's plan to take my baby away from me? Can you tell me why crackheads and insane drug addicted women have perfectly healthy babies, but God chose me to lose mine? Fuck Him and fuck that logic. "Maybe you weren't ready" hmm.. interesting thought there. Is anyone ever ready to be a parent?! What does how ready I am have anything to do with my miscarriage?! Again, I ask, why do crackheads have perfectly healthy babies?! They couldn't possibly be ready. Do you see why all of those phrases that seem harmless are actually some of the worst things you can say to a grieving mother?
I know that I did not touch on this particular phrase yet. I felt it deserved its very own paragraph because it is the phrase that has infuriated me the most. It has probably done the most damage. I spend minutes, hours, days, and weeks thinking about this phrase. "You will be a mom someday" This one in particular cuts deep. It cuts deep because I am single. It is entirely possible that I will be a mother again someday, however, some women who suffer miscarriages are married. I am not saying that they don't feel pain. I am not saying that they will not think about that baby every single day of forever. I am saying that married women have something that single women do not. They have hope. The typical response of most men when their wives miscarry is for them to say they will just try again! That creates an atmosphere of hope. Okay, this one didn't work out, but we can try again! Those women know without a doubt that they will be a mother someday because they can keep trying. Single women do not have the same luxury. I was left wondering if I would ever get the chance to be a mom again. When would I get to be a mom? Will I ever meet someone? What if I don't meet someone? It is a completely different pain when you lose a baby and you don't have that immediate hope of trying again. It is a lot harder to move on, to grieve, to let yourself feel these painful feelings when you don't have any answers to your most prominent questions.
It has been a whirlwind of emotions since that heart wrenching day. I have felt devastated, numb, angry, suicidal, depressed, hopeless, and every other synonym for sad that there is. Feeling hollow inside is a strange feeling. It is indescribable until you've felt it. I had nothing to say to anyone, no feelings, and certainly no life in me. I remember hearing people ask me if I needed anything, reading messages from my friends and family that wanted to help, and getting hugs. I don't remember feeling anything during all of this except extremely hollow on the inside. Unfortunately that was only the beginning and not even the worst to come. I had to wait a week before I could schedule the surgery after I found out. Another week carrying around my dead baby. How twisted is that? I took the entire weekend off from work and told myself that no matter what I would go back to work Monday. (two days before my surgery) What an ignorant and moronic thing to even tell myself. A weekend wasn't going to prepare me to go back to work, but I did it anyway. I can remember as if it were yesterday. I drove to work in complete silence that morning. I walked into the store and put my stuff down in the usual place. I clocked in and opened my register as per usual, but nothing felt the same. I did not feel the same. I stopped for just a second and looked up at the store and immediately burst into tears so intense that I had to sit down on the ground. How could everything be exactly as I left it? Everything around me was exactly the same. The only thing that had changed was me. How was I going to continue in this routine when I no longer felt a connection to anyone, or anything, around me?
The day of the surgery was probably the worst day for me. They stuck me in a tiny space alone that was separated with only a curtain. No one was allowed back with me for a while so I was left with my own thoughts in this uncomfortable hospital bed with a weird paper sheet over me. No one could find my vein so they just kept sticking this IV in my hands over and over. When that wouldn't work they switched to my arms. Each arm was stuck about a million times. I laid there in this bed with four nurses around my bed examining my arm with silent tears falling from my face. The bruises post surgery were really bad. I will never forget the look in my bosses eyes the day she saw them. I genuinely can't remember what we were doing because I was in such a daze two weeks post surgery that I can't remember much, but I remember she looked like she wanted to cry for me. The look she gave me was oddly comforting. It made me feel like for a split second I wasn't alone. I probably should have told her how much she helped without even realizing it. She was extremely patient with me then, and still is patient with me now as I try to figure it all out. She is beyond accommodating. She never directly asks me any questions, or brings it up, but she makes me feel as though if I want to talk she will listen. So, Heather, if you're reading this, thank you. Anyway, when I came out of the surgery it was as if my body was already aware of the trauma. I woke up with tears already streaming down my face and my hand on my stomach. All I could think about was the now shattered vision of what my future would no longer look like. I went home completely and utterly broken. Who knew you could love someone so entirely that you hadn't even met?
I didn't really want to tell anyone. It wasn't until after the surgery that I announced I had miscarried. I felt shame and guilt. What had I done wrong? I literally didn't eat anything that wasn't on my list of approved foods. I drank only what I was supposed to drink. I took my vitamins every single day. I refused to over exert myself. I followed every fucking rule. What could have possibly happened? I blamed myself. How could I face anyone? My body couldn't do the one thing it was designed to do. I was broken emotionally, but I was also broken physically. Oh, I was so angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at God, I was angry at the doctors, I was angry at Dylan, I was angry at my family, and I was angry at every pregnant lady. It may not have always been fair, but it is how I felt. People would tell me that I couldn't think, or say, certain things. That made me even more angry. Uh, yes I can because thats exactly whats happening right now.
It is really, unbelievably, sometimes unbearably, hard to deal with daily. Waking up is like getting hit by a truck over and over again. It's realizing every single morning that you're not pregnant anymore. That you were a mom and now you're not. It is a lonely feeling because no one around me understands how I feel. I could be having a good day and then out of nowhere just remember whats happening and all of a sudden its like the wind was knocked out of me and I am fighting back tears. It is exhausting to push through everyday. It is infuriating to have to push through everyday. It is infuriating when I don't feel the way I want to. I am frustrated with myself when I am having a hard day. I want to feel positive. I know that eventually I will feel positive. The best way to describe how I am feeling is to say that my body and my brain are not connected. I know how I want to feel, but I can't. I do not feel that way. I am constantly being told how strong I am. I don't feel strong. I question everyday whether I will ever find a new normal. I wonder when I will stop thinking about it constantly. Will there ever be a day when I don't feel this crippling pain?
I don't want to end this post on a super sad note. I don't want you all out there reading this to worry about me, or think I have completely lost my mind. I haven't. Quite honestly, as scary as this may sound, I have finally found part of my mind. I am not out of the sadness part of this journey yet, but I am working on getting there. This has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. It has changed me so deeply that I don't even know who I am anymore. My values and ambitions have changed. I am definitely a bit of a lost soul currently, but I am looking at it as an opportunity to reinvent myself. I have been to hell and back. There will be another side to this story where I emerge triumphant. I sure do look forward to the day I am writing about that!
I want to say a very special thank you to my best friend Kina for taking me out of the house and letting me vent no matter how many times I had to. My cousin Ashley for showing up and checking in on me constantly. My darling friend Kate for sending ice cream because she knew I was too sad to talk. My sweet friend Sarah for sending cupcakes to my job on my first day back for support. Finally to my family who has to deal with me everyday. Thank you for supporting me and respecting my space as I try to work through it all.
Note: It is my hope that we open the conversation about miscarriage so that it isn't so taboo. If my story can help just one person then I feel like I have accomplished something. If you are going through something similar and need someone to talk to please do not hesitate to contact me. You are not alone. I am here day and night.
Note 2: This is me, two years later, about to write that post about how I emerged triumphantly!