Tag Archives: miscarriage

The Effing Myth Of Healing

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You thump around your life like
there isn’t anything else
going on in the ridiculous
birdcage of you–
you warm up with coffee,
you do the dishes,
you tell the dog she stinks and
laugh because you know you’re not
going to really do anything about it.
Meanwhile, your son practices
“Mary Had a Little Lamb” on
his trumpet, and you think,
this is it, this is the soundtrack
of my breaking heart,

but no one besides you would
ever know that.

She saw the way you interfaced with
the universe,
how you quivered
and cried and inflicted paralysis
on yourself to make it through
the day to a glass of wine and
gentle chat with your husband. 
She saw it all.
How could she not know you’d
bleed inwardly when she scooped
herself out of you and went away?

Remember the miscarriage you had,
standing on line
in the grocery store?
Remember how you bled like someone
opened a crimson faucet in you?

Yeah.

It is like that.
A startling, frightening death
of something before it truly
lived or breathed, and you
find yourself wondering
how and why you allowed
it to inhabit so much space
within you.

Now your kid plays “Twinkle Twinkle”
and you think of all the stars
you wished on, but it was only
a name puffed out into the sky.
A million moments will tick past,
you’ll decide to bathe the dog
then change your mind again,
look out the window at the birds
pecking their way through
all that seed.

You lost so much blood,
you were weak for weeks and ate
acres of spinach until eventually
you healed and started to move
normally in your world.
They do not give you an ultrasound
photo of a miscarriage,
but you have a photo of her. 
You look at it and sob
behind the bathroom door as the trumpet
belts out an “Ode to Joy.”

——-

Written as part of the WordPress daily prompt. 
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/heal/

Extra special love and thanks to my darlings, Dani and Anjuli who patiently and tenderly proof read and critique nearly everything I write. 

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October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month– You Are Not Alone

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All these posts have been popping up on my Face Book newsfeed about October being the month in which we recognize and become aware of pregnancy and infant loss.

Which is kind of funny.

But not funny hah-hah.  Funny weird and karmic.

Because five years ago, in October, I lost a pregnancy.  It was in between having Jack and getting pregnant with Emily.

I purposely say I lost a pregnancy and not a baby.  Because it was early on–  only 10 weeks–  and I really didn’t think of it as a “baby”.  It was more or less a clump of cells.  And it didn’t grow the right way after it implanted in my uterus.  It was science, really.  But it was also heartbreaking.

I found out there was no heartbeat at the eight week “confirmation” appointment, when a tech stuck a wand up my lady parts after unsuccessfully trying to probe my flabby abdomen.

I’ll never forget her words, “Yeah, there’s nothing in there.”  She went off to find a doctor to confirm what she had already confirmed.  No baby.

It was an awful experience, and my husband had stayed home with Jack so I was all alone in the doctor’s office.  They put me in a chair to wait for a doctor, in a hallway where other pregnant women were wandering through for their own appointments.  I wept openly.  People stared openly.  After it was all said and done, I promptly switched OBGYNs so I would never have to go back to that place.

A flurry of blood tests and ultrasounds ensued over the next few days, to “confirm” that there was indeed no viable fetus in my swollen and nauseous belly.  It was exhausting and sad.  I cried.  Like, a lot.

No one had known I was pregnant other than my husband and best friend.  For some reason, I hadn’t wanted to tell anyone I was pregnant.  I’d been terribly sick and the combination of nausea and exhaustion led me to depression.  It was like my body was giving me a message that the pregnancy was not to be, and to be completely honest, I didn’t really bond with it.  Whatever “it” was.

So, I cried, but not because I was losing a baby.

I cried because I was really tired.  I cried because it was unfair that I had been so sick and my boobs had been so sore and it was all for naught.  I cried because I was pissed about having to pay the deductible on my insurance for emergency room visits and an operation because my body couldn’t even miscarry a baby properly, let alone carry one.

And that was the rub.

I felt like a failure.

I was embarrassed and angry with my body’s ineptitude to grow a human.

It sounds ridiculous, I know.  But after living in a certain shell of muscle, fat, water, and bone for 30-something years, I had grown into the assumption that I could expect certain things from my earthen vessel.  And when it failed me, I faltered.

Back then, when I lost this pregnancy, I didn’t want anyone to know.  I had to take a leave of absence from work for three weeks because my body wouldn’t stop bleeding, and my blood count dropped, and I could barely get out of bed.  No one other than my direct supervisor knew what was happening to me.  That was both comforting and isolating.  I thought to lie to people and tell them I had Lyme Disease, or mono, or a psychotic break–  anything would be less humiliating than admitting I’d had a miscarriage.

Furthermore, I did not want to see the look of pity in people’s eyes, and I did not know how I would respond when they offered words of condolence.  I didn’t know how to explain that I was not sad about losing a baby.  I was sad about my body failing.

Looking back on this experience, through the veil of time, I can see it was a very transformative time for me.  I learned some truly humbling lessons about myself, my body, and life.  I also learned about the strength of my family, the adoration of my husband, and the treasure of Jack’s presence in our lives.

I’m not ashamed to talk about my miscarriage anymore.  And even though that pregnancy never took the shape of a baby in my womb or mind, it left an indelible imprint on my heart as both a woman and a mom.

Women have all kinds of feelings about pregnancy losses.  None of those feelings are wrong, or better, or worse, or right.  They are all just feelings.

A friend of mine from work had been pregnant at the same time as me.  She was further along, and had her baby a few weeks after I finally “completed” my miscarriage.  I continued to pat and talk to her pregnant belly, and it felt fine to me, although she had confided in me that she was worried I would feel bad.  It’s a weird survivor’s guilt moms have around other moms.  But I was able to honestly reassure her that I felt nothing but joy for her.

A few weeks after that, she brought her new baby into work to visit.  A tidal wave of despair smacked me off my feet and I couldn’t even look at her baby.  It shocked me.  I ran to my office, locked the door, and bawled.  Fortunately, my friend is one of the most caring and understand people I know.  She got it.  And while she never held it against me, I’ve felt bad about that reaction to this day.

It just goes to show what a charged issue this is.  We sometimes have feelings about it we don’t even know we have, or that we could ever have.  I think part of this is our culture of multitasking and not really being aware at times, or suppressing and repressing intense emotions because we just don’t have time to deal with them.  I think another part of this is just the inherently unpredictable and infinite nature of grief.

I’ve known other women who have lost pregnancies and who have lost actual babies–  babies they have named and held in their arms and loved with their entire hearts.  I would never lump my miscarriage in with their losses.  I know I’ve glimpsed but a shadow of their pain, and yet, I feel a sort of camaraderie or sisterhood with these women.  My loss was real too.  It was different, but it was real.

Lots and lots and lots of women have miscarriages.

We are not alone.

And even after all these years, and all this processing, when I see those posts pop up on Face Book, I still feel some pretty intense feels.

It’s not a bad thing, though, because it lets me know I am not alone.  That I was never alone, and in some way that helps to retroactively repair the self-imposed pain and isolation I felt back then.

You’re not alone either.  If you would like to talk about your loss, please feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear from you, and to be here for you.  xox.

The Flicker

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You die in me all the time,
and with all my breath,
I revive you,
ignore the blood on the floor,
(a scarf of scarlet silk),
sit back on my heels, and wait.

The initial ecstasy– a rapid heartbeat
as I hover above my body–
turns to panic, and I wonder,
how can I keep you?
Because surely I can’t let you
slip away again.

Of all the names I call you,
most of them clinical and cool,
no one heard me whisper
the sweet shadowy syllable against
your velvet crown, as we sat there,
in that puddle, you and me.

You die in me all the time,
like a star,
(a brilliant flicker galaxies away),
and I know it will take a million years,
as you steal my breath
over and over.

This post written as part of the WordPress Daily Challenge, Poetry.

Time for Poetry
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/poetry/

“I Guess You Could Call It A Blighted Ovum”- The Story Of My Miscarriage

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This is the one “pregnant” thing I will do.  I thought.

I sat in my car in McDonald’s parking lot.   I reached into a greasy bag, pulled out fistfulls of fries, and stuffed them into my face.  I ate three cheese burgers and six chicken nuggets too.

I was pregnant and knew I was going to miscarry.  For the past two weeks I was viciously sick, but my nausea suddenly stopped and I was ravenous.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I used to sneak McDonald’s into my otherwise immaculate diet.  So, for the one and only time, I did it with this. . .

This what?  

It wasn’t a baby, or even an embryo.

At the eight week ultrasound that morning they stroked my stomach with the device, and even prodded me with the intra-vaginal “wand,” to search my uterus for a heartbeat.  All their poking and prowling around revealed only emptiness.

It was like looking into a deserted room.  There were signs that someone had been there, a yolk sack cast off like a stray sock, and something else they called “implantation tissue.”

But there was no flicker of light.  No one was home in that quaint, dark, little cabin inside of me.

This story takes place some years back, in between Jack and Emily.  It was a warm, autumn day.  I recall the morning glories were still using our sunflowers as a trellis.  I had posted a photo of one on Facebook and a friend commented that if I believed in fate, that flower was heralding the coming of a baby girl.  It was uncanny because no one knew I was pregnant besides my husband and best friend. 

My husband had stayed home to watch Jack, and I was by myself at the clinic.  The ultrasound tech fetched a doctor whom I’d never met.  She too took a peek and confirmed, “Yup, there’s nothing in there.”

Confused, exhausted, and sick to my stomach, I started to cry.  She gave me options of having the surgical process called a D and C, or getting a prescription of pills to insert in my vagina to start the miscarriage.  “You don’t want to wait too long with these things,” she said when I asked why I couldn’t just wait for it to “pass” naturally.

This brings us up to me sitting and gorging on grease in McDonald’s parking lot.  I was killing time waiting for that prescription to be filled, engaging in a ritual that felt almost sacred, which is maybe why I remember it so clearly these years later.

“I guess you could call it a blighted ovum,” the doctor had said, wrinkling up her nose, as though she was confused, but not really.  I had asked her why there was nothing in there, when every test said I was pregnant, my aching breasts said I was pregnant, and the all-day-morning sickness also confirmed a pregnancy.  “Something probably went wrong with the implantation?”  she offered quizzically.

According to Web MD, a blighted ovum “occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop into an embryo.”  Blighted ovums are usually the result of chromosomal issues with the pregnancy.  It is cited as the leading cause of early miscarriage, therefore pretty common.  However, until my miscarriage, I never heard of one.

Statistically, as many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

So, I guess little Dr. Lady saw this type of thing all the time.  For me, it was a brand-spanking-new experience.

I didn’t hide how annoyed I was with that doctor.  We were in a room plastered with oversized ultrasound photos of beautiful, healthy babies.  “You guys should really put up some photos in here of empty uteruses for the rest of us,” I snapped.  She muttered something and bowed out of the room to write my prescription.

Recalling this conversation, I sipped on Diet Coke to wash down all that fat.  I’m not really pregnant, I thought.  Diet Coke is something I never would consume if I were really pregnant.

My emotions were mixed.  It might surprise you that primarily I was stressed to be missing work, and uncertain how long it would take to empty the scant contents of my womb.  The doctor said it would be “like a heavy period.”  I had opted for the pills because I didn’t want to fork over a thousand dollar deductible for surgery.

Was I sad?  Not really.

I was sick and tired and overwhelmed, but not sad.

In my mind, it was science.  Despite my irritation with that doctor’s lack of anything resembling bedside manner, I accepted her answer that something just went wrong with the implantation.  It wasn’t a baby in there.  It was a clump of cells that didn’t grow properly and never had a chance.  

I had been happy and prepared to love another little human.  I had stroked my stomach in the weeks since that positive pregnancy test, thought about baby names, and even fantasized it would be a girl, but my heart was not broken to discover that it was a blighted ovum. 

A few days later, after slipping those pills inside me, I hemorrhaged.  Little Dr. Lady’s likening my miscarriage to “a heavy period” turned out to be the understatement of the year when my bathroom walls became splashed in blood as though someone had smashed a jar of spaghetti sauce.  In the end, I had to cough up the deductible for emergency surgery to help me “complete the miscarriage.”

Then I was sad.  

I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t even miscarry properly.  

In angry shock, images of the phsyical complications of my miscarriage intruded my thoughts.   It was hard to forget the grapefruit-sized clots which poured out of me in line at the supermarket, blood dripping down my legs onto the checkered market floor.  My blood count had dropped and I was too listless to play with Jack for days.  I felt like my body betrayed me; everything I’d come to know and expect from my physical being was suspect.

Life goes on.  I went back to work, took care of my family, and ate a ton of spinach to boost my iron.  Eventually I recovered physically and emotionally.  I swore off having more babies, yet five months later fell pregnant with my Emily.  For that, I realize I was one of the lucky ones; my “miss” left me with no permanent damage and I was able to conceive once more.  For that, I am grateful and terribly humble. 

For a long time, I didn’t want anyone to know about my miscarriage.  I didn’t tell people at work why I was out for nearly a month, and I didn’t care what dramas they concocted.  Thinking I was in psychiatric hospital would be better than having them know I had a miscarriage.  Eventually I got over that, and over time, I have shared my story.

I share this with you, at the risk of giving TMI and grossing you out, because maybe it happened to you too.  I share this with you because so many of us have miscarriages and they are all different and they make us all feel differently.  I share this with you because you are not alone, no matter what you are thinking or feeling about your miscarriage.  I share this with you because your body is perfect and beautiful, and there is no shame in having a miscarriage.

Everyone handles miscarriage in a unique way.  I read a book called “Unspeakable Losses,” which helped me understand the personal and profound nature of this loss, whether because it is the loss of a baby, or because of the physical issues involved, like mine.  No one else in the world can know what a pregnancy means for a woman, because it is happening inside of HER.

I saved the morning glory photo.  In my mind it represents that pregnancy, as well as the strength and tenacity of my body. 

Having a private parking lot binge on fast food also validated that pregnancy.  And gave me closure.   

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/writing-challenge-backward/

(maybe not so much backwards as inside out?)