Loss

It’s been impossible letting friends and family know about our loss- the utter opposite of sharing the first news of our pregnancy.  I debated sharing deeper detail of the loss at first, but I’ve always felt that talk about miscarriage is sometimes strangely shepherded away, and I want to be as open and honest about our experience as possible.  I wrote the following three days after we found out we had lost the pregnancy, hours after I had undergone a procedure called a D&C.  It goes without saying, but exceptionally adult situations and equally colorful language follow.

After weeks of a complete inability to keep my eyes open even one moment past 10:30 p.m. (after which ten delicious hours of sleep would follow), I suddenly sit awake, past 2 a.m., for the third night in a row.  It’s really the only side effect of the pregnancy that’s gone away, cruel because it’s also the only one that could help me now.  The others—intermittent nausea, breast pain, the always inopportune but occasionally comical burps over which I exercise no control— serve no other purpose save to remind me of the excellence with which my body prepared for this pregnancy and its utter failure to alert me for weeks on end that anything, everything, had gone wrong.

The doctor today said these would all begin to subside gradually, without the hormonal crash that accompanies labor.  Because what happened wasn’t labor.  It wasn’t cathartic and beautiful and orchestrated perfectly by my body.  It was, though, born of love, the incredible abiding love my husband and I have for one another, and there is no way that I would have survived the last few days, that I would have any hope to survive the next few, without that love and that person by my side.

I worked from home the day we found out we were pregnant.  I was only two days late at that point, and had taken a pregnancy test the night before with ambiguous results.  Don’t ask, just trust that were there a way to design a pregnancy test to be a hologram that appeared negative at one angle and positive at another, EPT would be all over it.   In the interest of returning to work the following day with actual, documented progress on my projects, I asked Mike to pick up three more pregnancy tests on his way home, so that I could put my mind at ease—and also so that I could finally, finally have some physical relief, as I hadn’t so much glanced at our bathroom all day.  Forty-five seconds after Mike walked in the door, we started to become parents.

We took a long walk, talked about logistics, gripped hands and matched breathing while silently screaming “Hooray!” and “Oh, shit!” simultaneously.  We bought two of the four books I would later read before my seventh week in a small bookstore, while the star of a 90s sitcom narrated her former addiction to a sizeable crowd in front of a wall of Taschen imprints.  We called Michael’s sister, and I almost immediately confessed that I couldn’t shake the realistic worry that I would fall into the 30% of women who miscarried. I also couldn’t shake the joy I felt at knowing I was pregnant, and I wanted to share it with everyone I saw.  I decided that the joy of sharing my pregnancy mitigated any pain I would feel with sharing my miscarriage, and that, should something terrible happen, I wanted to be open and honest about it, to acknowledge that this happens to many women, to out myself in the hopes that it would help someone else heal.

This isn’t algebra.  There isn’t an emotional scale where joy can balance pain.  They exist without knowledge of the other, and on this day, on the day a team of incredible medical professionals removed the embryo whose heart stopped beating weeks ago from my uterus, I have felt the most intense emotional pain of my life, and I have felt the most authentic gratitude of my life.  Today, I felt warm with the comfort of being in the hands of caring and talented professionals, I felt loved with a love that did not exist before my husband and I gripped each other through loss, I felt betrayed, I felt alone, I felt optimism like I never had before, and I felt an incredible guilt for each moment of that optimism.

It isn’t fair- at least I hope it isn’t.  I hope none of this hinges on any sort of tit for tat, karmic scale where tragedies are consequences rather than aberrations.   There is no silver lining to all of this, no bright side.  There are, though, ways forward and through this mess, ways made all the more clear in the past few days,  becoming clearer through the comfort I have found in my faith, my friends, my family, and in my marriage.   The good and the bad will never outweigh one another—the deepest pain won’t rock the love I feel for my husband and our friends and family, and all of the love in the world won’t ever make these last few days go away.

We had no control over any of this, a statement I must keep repeating to myself when illogical and dangerous thoughts crop up in a series of  ‘what-ifs’.  We do maintain some control over how we proceed, over how we build this narrative into our lives, to honor this experience and give it a place in our family story.  It seems right to nestle this struggle in the greater narrative of building our family, a journey we intend to continue, with a stronger bond between us.

We started to become parents 45 seconds after Mike walked in the door on March 14th, and we have no intention of changing that course.  We will be parents, when the time is right, and until then and beyond then we will grow together.

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