Seven weeks ago our family was blessed with a positive pregnancy test. We told very few people and cautioned the children not to say anything and not to get excited because it was too early. It was hard for them to contain their excitement and for some reason I thought that reminding them of how fragile pregnancy can be would somehow protect and shield them from the pain if something were to happen.
Last Thursday at 11 weeks and one day I learned the pregnancy was not viable. Not telling people, trying to have them not get excited, reminding them of the fragility did nothing. No one was less heartbroken finding out than we would be if the whole world had known.
I understand part of the reason society encourages people not to tell is because of the fragility, the high rate of miscarriage, but so what. There is a high rate of divorce, but no one tells people not to get married. Why do we hide our joy even if it is fleeting? And why don’t we talk about the pain if it is so common?
For us there were many reasons we decided not to share, and even as we were approaching the 12 week mark and had begun to think about how we would share the news, I was hesitant. This was baby number 5. We were overjoyed and will welcome biological children and adopted children till there is no room left in our home, because our hearts will always have room. But not everyone feels the same about big families and I did not want to hear snide or snarky comments about adding more children to our family. I am also an “older mom” and did not want to hear lectures about the possibility of a child with a disability. The disability world has been a world we have been part of for years and we would welcome a child with a disability the same as any other child, we have talked of making the choice to adopt a child with a disability.
I am lucky and blessed and I know that. I often feel that sometimes the gift of “always putting things into perspective” is not the gift it seems. It sometimes negates your feelings by always comparing them to someone else’s worse situation. It is important to be able to do, to know when you are lucky, but that doesn’t mean you should push your own feelings away. This is a time, however; when it has been helpful. As I lay crying for the loss of this baby, I am comforted by my 4 babies. As I think of what could’ve been for this baby I think of my friends who have lost children. A life is a life and I am saddened at the loss of this one, but I am so grateful for what I do have and though at this time it does little to slow the tears, it is still a comfort.
Pregnancy is all enveloping. As a pregnant mother every thing you do is tied to the small human you are growing. Sometimes you make a conscious thought, like less coffee. Sometimes you are just doing what your body is asking for, like eating more. Today everything I do is still tied to the baby. I am forcing myself to eat because I need to but am so acutely aware that I am no longer eating for 2. This morning I was aware that I could’ve had a second cup of coffee, but I could barely choke down one through the tears. Everything is still tied to the idea of pregnancy, even if it is now gone. We will try again. At my age who knows if it will happen again. This time we were blessed with it occurring quickly. Perhaps it will take months, perhaps it will not happen and we will turn to adoption, which we had always felt called to do. Sitting here my mind is swarming. It tries to tell me to feel better, to do some things I read about and try again. The next sentence reminds me of my age. Then I begin to think positively again, to tell myself I have had 4 babies this way. Maybe I should just move on to adoption. Seems that no matter what I tell myself, myself is countering with something else. In time I am sure it will all come clear, or it will just play out how it is supposed to. Either way, I know I am not alone, I know that almost every woman I know has had a loss. My heart goes out to you, it breaks for you and with you. And if there was ever a time you wished you could speak to me about your pain, your loss, but felt you shouldn’t, for that I am truly sorry. Know I am here if you want to talk, or ask questions. This whole process is made even more difficult because since no one talks about it, I don’t know what is normal and keep having to call my midwife. I know some people are private about all matters and ones such as this especially, and that of course is fine. People need to do what makes them comfortable, but the idea that we should not talk about the loss of a pregnancy, of the dreams that went along with it, or the pain, both physical and emotional, that accompanies the loss, that baffles me.
And now, that we are facing the heartbreak of a pregnancy that is no more I don’t want to hide it. I want to talk about it. I remember once reading an article about how we should always tell because by not telling we were invalidating the existence of that baby, even if it were momentary. I have thought a lot about that in the last 6 weeks. It makes sense, If miscarriage is so common it seems like it should be something we can talk about it. It is painful, it is heartbreaking. But hiding it doesn’t change that, just as hiding my children’s joy in this pregnancy did nothing to shield them from the pain they are now experiencing.