This year, two years after our son was born, my husband and I decided to once again give the baby dance a whirl. A week into January I was awoken by severe nausea, but not wanting to put the proverbial horse before his cart, and still several days before it would be possible to test, I decided to blame that not-quite-flaky sea bass I’d had for dinner. When the nausea, however, didn’t go away, we decided to test, and then test again, all to negative results. Well past the point when such a process should be accurate, and by which time I’d definitely digested the fish, we were perplexed, to say the least. It was not until I was four days late that we finally got a positive result, and a little over a week later I received the congratulatory phone call from my doctor that the blood work was back. “Put your doubts to rest and fingers crossed for a girl,” he had said.
At the time I didn’t dare articulate it out loud, as though uttering the words would bring my fears to pass, but something in me was sinking. It didn’t feel right; somehow I just knew I couldn’t get too excited. It was like my body hadn’t really committed to this one, was still mulling over how to proceed. The next day I started to bleed.
Discussed through hurried whispers and quiet looks, we often, as women, mourn this sort of loss internally. The responsibility we feel—a misplaced survivor’s guilt, of sorts—keeps us quiet, while inside we rage with the what ifs. Babies and their making are a messy business indeed, and I recognize that many people don’t want to talk about miscarriage, but I don’t know how else to move forward.
For the first time I understand the pain associated with losing a part of myself. I see in a new light my beautiful friends who have struggled and yet persevere in the attempt to make their own family; my mother, who had to make the decision to stop after all the pain she’d been through between having my brother and I and the lost one along the way. I am amazed at the strength we women have, the resilience in the face of such loss.
It’s strange how, amidst the acuteness of the pain and grief, here we all are: still alive, still laughing, still pushing forward. So, while I’m trying to shake this off, to not be self-indulgent, to keep in the front of my mind the beautiful boy I am already so lucky to have and get back to work, to wine and runny cheese, hot baths, caffeine, and other joys of un-pregnant life, I feel like I am riding the crest of a wave, balancing oh-so-carefully to stay upright. And while I’m gritting my teeth against falling into the abyss, the thought of letting go and submersing myself in despair is frightfully tempting. Like a deep, suffocating hug.
There is something, though, to be gained from the experience—only in loss can you truly open your eyes to everything else you still have. My heartbreak is so palpable that I feel like it is blazoned on my being; that every person I pass, that I speak to, somehow knows I’ve lost something. That the rawness I feel on the inside is available for all to witness; but every day it’s getting a little easier to remember that in no way have I lost everything, and a little easier to not let go. This, then, is for every woman who understands what we hope we never will, and more importantly, for all the beautiful bouncy babies who came before, and will come after, the ones who were strong like their mothers, and knew to hold on tight.