This post is completely outside the realm of the norm here at Neighborfood. It has been languishing in my drafts file for weeks, waiting until I get the guts to hit publish. As much as I love sharing all of my happy foodie experiences with you all, I also want this to be a space where we can talk about the tough stuff together. Thanks for reading along and joining me in this process. I hope, somehow, my words can bring comfort to others who have experienced the pain of a miscarriage. For those of you who have lost a baby through miscarriage, I want you to know you’re not alone.
I didn’t expect to see a faint blue plus on the pregnancy test that September morning. The last few weeks had been filled with work events and sinus infections. Getting pregnant was the last thing on our minds.
But there it was, unmistakeable, before me.
We were having a baby.
I spent the day at work distracted, madly searching pregnancy forums and trying to calculate my due date.
That night, I rushed to Target to pick up the tiniest OSU onesie I could find and put it in a simple gift bag for Will. Even after reading the card I had written him, it took a few moments for the news to register. But then there was hugging and “can you believe its??” and eyes glistening with happy tears.
That weekend we went camping. I had picked up a few pregnancy books at Half Price Books and I read them aloud all the way to Michigan. We spent the weekend discussing names and whispering dreams in our sleeping bags at night.
I felt amazing. It was too early to feel nauseous or tired, so I lived in a sense of continual wonder. I would catch Will’s glance across a room or across the table and see it there in his eyes as well. Wild eyed excitement, wonder, awed disbelief, and just a teensy bit of terror. This is happening. It’s really happening. It was a secret too delicious for words. It bubbled up between us in bursts of imagination and plans.
But then one Sunday, just a little over two weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I started to bleed. I called the on-call Dr. immediately. He told me bleeding in early pregnancy is common. I shouldn’t worry.
I tried not to.
It didn’t work.
The bleeding continued and worsened through the night. Nothing about it felt common.
I called my Dr. in the morning. She said I may be miscarrying, but they couldn’t be sure. I could go to the ER but there was nothing they could do either way. All there was to do was wait. Wait for it to stop…or to carry on.
It never stopped. Not for 8 long days. I called a few close friends to tell them what was up. They sent prayers and cried and brought us take out for dinner. It meant the world to me, but it didn’t stop the ache.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of helplessness I experienced during those days. I prayed…or at least I groaned in God’s general direction, but my words felt empty, useless. I couldn’t lay down or eat better or go to the hospital or Holy Spirit in Jesus name this away. We were losing our baby. And I was powerless to stop it.
When the bleeding had almost stopped, I went to the Dr. and got my first ultra sound. The ultra sound that should have given us the first glimpse of the tiny human growing inside me. The ultra sound I had looked forward to. The ultra sound I had circled and starred on my calendar weeks in advance.
But there would be no heartbeat, no picture to post on the fridge after this ultra sound. It only confirmed what we already knew. Our baby was gone.
There is no guidebook for this grief. I searched my pregnancy books for the chapters on miscarriage. They were short and cold and to the point.
They didn’t mention the weight I would feel in my chest or how my breath would catch when I saw our due date on the calendar or walked past the would-have-been nursery. They didn’t talk about the way my arms would ache with emptiness or how a teddy bear at Kohl’s would put me over the edge. They didn’t mention how hard it was to reverse your dreams. To shrink your family back down to just the two of us size.
We didn’t tell our families for several months. I felt so overcome by grief I didn’t know if I could handle someone else’s. And it felt terribly cruel to have to tell them something so awful when we had been so anxious to share some of the best news of our lives.
There’s nothing that can be said to make this better.
Miscarriage sucks. It just does.
It’s not fair. It’s not the way things are supposed to be. It’s no one’s fault. It couldn’t be prevented.
It just is. And it sucks.
My road to healing has been slow and deliberate. There’s been no formula, no cure all. But I have healed, bit by bit, stitch by stitch. And so I write this not as a prescription, but as a word from a soldier there beside you in the trenches. I write this so you’ll feel less alone, less crazy. So you’ll know whatever healing looks like for you, it’s okay. This is just what healing looked like for me.
For me, healing looked like a full-on ugly cry break down in the parking lot of Target.
It looked like cleaning out the closets, mopping the floors, and wiping the baseboards (which I NEVER do), just to keep my mind busy.
It looked like reading the Bible, then not reading the Bible. Then reading it again. Then not being able to even look at it.
It looked like not telling all my friends so sometimes I could just go out and feel normal. So I could talk about nail polish and vacations and The Bachelor for a few hours without crying.
It looked like clinging to Will at night in the dark when sleep didn’t want to come.
It looked like girl’s nights and laughter and wine.
It looked like standing under the shower head until the hot water ran out.
It looked like finally being strong enough to tell our families what happened.
It looked like journaling. Writing down our story, my prayers, my pain, my anxieties, my hopes.
It looked like snuggling my friend’s babies, breathing in their sweet smell, and kissing their wrinkly foreheads.
It looked like reading a novel, just for fun.
It looked like scribbling verses on scrap paper, fragments to grasp hold of. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. His mercies are new every morning.
It looked like a pint of Grater’s ice cream and marathon episodes of The Office.
It looked like praying, or mumbling, or screaming at God.
It looked like reading blogs and listening to other people’s stories of loss.
It looked like recognizing our baby was real–a real life, with all the potential for personality and talents and growth. We were parents. We lost our baby, and our pain is real and legitimate.
It looked like finally being brave enough to try again, even though there’s no guarantee we’ll be spared this grief the next time around.
It looked like writing this down. For you. For me. For whoever might come here wondering if their heart will ever heal.
I still have hard days. Sometimes the grief hits me anew, and it feels so fresh, even after all these months. But I have healed. I am being healed. I am so grateful for the friends and family who have sent cards and whispered prayers and texted verses and given hugs when I’ve been at my worst. Their love has helped stitch me back together.
There are things I will always grieve. I will never have the naivety, the blissful excitement of that first time. And I will never snuggle our first baby or drink in its intoxicating scent this side of heaven. My heart will always mourn these losses, and long for a day when all of this, somehow, will be made right.
Despite the pain, I’m so grateful for the two weeks I had with our precious little one. I’m grateful I got to experience the love of a parent, if only for a few brief moments. If there’s anything this miscarriage taught me, it’s that it’s possible to feel great love for a human you’ve only known just two short weeks. And that’s a feeling I’ll never, ever forget.
I found tremendous comfort in reading other’s stories of loss during my healing. Below, I’ve included a few more links I found helpful. As always, I would love to hear from you. If you’re struggling or just want someone to talk to or pray for you, feel free to email me at neighborfoodblog(at)gmail(dot)com.
If you’re wondering how you can support a friend who is experiencing the loss of a baby, PLEASE read this article from my dear friend Erin On What Not To Say.