April 26th rolled past me, as it did you. It brought pain and joy and all things in between to him and her and them and the others. It was a day, and we all walked into and out of it, just like we do so many others. Some days leave their marks on you and those marks, be they soft lip prints or jagged, deep carvings, stain you. This is Life’s Tattoo. This is the one that can’t be removed; you just have to learn to live with your new ink. You may even find beauty in it.
I thought about this baby several times on this past day that happened like they all do, as clocks everywhere mark the time that slides by without any effort. It has been 2 years since that first miscarriage, the one that opened the door on a special kind of fear and loathing, and introduced me to the doubt of my female body. On this day I wondered, as I have so many times, who that one could have been if conditions had been just right. I sometimes stare off into nowhere, eyes distant, face slack, thinking these thoughts. Then I sigh deeply and swallow a lump in my throat; my hand may wipe at a tear that rolls absently. Other times I feel a peace, a moving on, an acceptance.
My world feels different than it used to so many moons ago. I am changed. There are some wonderful differences and there are, scattered about, some not so fabulous ones. These things, the changes both good and bad, are all just a part of the What Is. I can handle that. I can roll with it and still find a reason to be, see a splendor in life. It’s always there, waiting for me to rediscover it.
There have been times I didn’t think that was possible – that I’d be able to see beauty and feel bliss in life again, be able to even care if it was there or not. But I hold that knowledge, that truth, close to me now, as I live and breathe. This tender awareness seems to sit in the palm of my hot hand like a smooth pebble. It holds weight and feels cool against my skin. I like it; it grounds me.
I have learned another truth during this time, as well. A less fabulous one, I’m afraid. In every situation during the past two years where I have said to a group of women (of any size) that I have had miscarriages, at least one of them always shares that she has had one, also. There are too many of us. Why does it never fail to shock me, even though I know well by now how often it happens?
To all of you who have experienced this or other painful loss, I thought about you today, too. I felt sadness and tension, and then I released it. I sought the love and peace in my heart. After soaking it in for awhile, I released that into the universe, too.
I hope it finds you, much like a cool pebble that might just land, unexpectedly, in your upturned palm.
Late at night on Sunday, December 7th, I wrote this article, for Deep South Moms Blog, about what it feels like to face the holiday season with the first instance of the due date of my miscarried baby looming. When I miscarried back in April, I knew Christmas Eve would never be the same. That is when that first lost baby was due.
As I wrote the piece, I was reflecting on how far I’ve come since those first few days after losing the baby back in April. The utter hopelessness. The anger. The confusion and pain. I realized that the pain is so deep, it’s as if it will never go away completely… but over time, it somehow becomes easier to live with, and serves to remind me to be more thankful of the loved ones I still have in my life.
It has been almost 8 months since that first miscarriage, and I was just feeling like I had come out on the other side of the deepest of the immediate grief. And I knew that it was in part due to the passage of time, and the love and kindness of family and friends. In part it has been due to my being lucky enough to be able to write about my feelings and emotions here, and receive support from all of you. (Have I said thank you? Really. Thank you so much.)
I was feeling something I haven’t felt for awhile.
But what’s really bitter now is that a large part of my renewed hope came from the fact that I had a new life within me. A life that was crossing into the second trimester of a pregnancy that I had not even expected, but that I was starting to believe was meant to help me heal.
I spent weeks upon weeks feeling tense. I spent almost 3 months checking my underwear multiple times a day, and staring at the toilet paper every single time I wiped.
Slowly, so so slowly, the tension had just started to recede.
I had seen and heard his tiny heart beating, quickly, with vigor. He was healthy, and moving. He was ALIVE. He was going to make it, damnit. He really was.
Surely, so so surely, the tension has just started to recede.
I found myself leaving the restroom and realizing, after the fact, that I hadn’t looked at my underwear. I hadn’t checked my toilet paper.
I believed. I wasn’t just saying I believed. I really did.
It felt so good.
And then on Tuesday morning, December 9th, everything fell apart around me (us).
It was as if I’d been walking carefully on a thin sheet of glass suspended over a black abyss for months, but somehow, I’d just started to believe it was cement, and I started tap-dancing. The bottom fell out – the floor exploded, and all I had to grab for as I fell were shards of glass that cut my hands as I dropped into the abyss.
No heartbeat on the fetal doppler for us to hear.
No little, pulsing muscle in his tiny chest for me to see on mini-ultrasound.
My lovely doctor trying so hard over and over to find it. My lovely doctor getting visibly frustrated, upset, but still trying and trying. My lovely doctor giving up and telling me she was so so sorry.
Ohhh, my inability to believe this was happening… and ohhhh, my immense guilt over believing for so long that it would end this way, anyway.
And Oh, my Anger that it actually did.
My hope? Gone.
No heartbeat on a full blown ultrasound.
I stared at the screen, at his tiny body inside of me.
People, he looked beautiful and perfect on that high-tech ultrasound screen. I saw his little body facing me, as if he was looking at me to say goodbye. His tiny little arms and legs were there, framing the perfect little body in the middle.
Framing the perfect, little, middle part, where everything was silent and still.
Not really so perfect at all.
Every night since then, I’ve stayed up late, so late, doing ridiculous things like working on my website redesign. Things that I can blur my mind with. I’ve stayed up until my eyes just couldn’t see straight anymore, until I just couldn’t hold them open anymore, so that when I did lay down in bed, I’d fall right asleep.
I’m not ready for the thoughts that will come in the quiet darkness.
Every morning when I’ve awoken, I’ve had that horrible moment when I realize that, Yes, this reality is my reality. There is still a dead baby in my womb.
And when they take him from me on this Tuesday morning, I don’t know what I’ll have left to do but start to move on.
And that is the saddest thing of all.
Today, Saturday, marks the one week point. It’s been one week since the bleeding of miscarriage began. One week since I sat on the toilet, with Braden happily splashing in the tub to my left, looking down at the blood in disbelief. Just one week since I began crying hysterically as more blood came. One week since I fumbled the phone, almost dropping it into the toilet, to give my husband the worst news I have ever delivered to anyone.
One week since I laid my face on the floor next to the bathtub crying, begging out loud that this not be what I thought it was. One week since I sobbed uncontrollably there, and Braden giggled in response because he thought I was laughing.
I was tired and emotional after watching a movie and thinking of an old hurt.
I attributed much of my emotional response then to pregnancy hormones. You know how they are.
Almost exactly 24 hours after I took this photo, I started bleeding; miscarrying.
Twenty-four hours after that, I was waiting with high anxiety and nervous trepidation to visit my doctor the next morning for blood tests.
Twenty-four hours later yet, I was standing in my kitchen, having not received the test results yet, speaking to my (empty) uterus with fractured, clinging hope.
“Are you still in there? Is it possible? I love you. Please fight; please hold on, little baby.”
That night, I fell asleep while I repeated the same thing over and over again in my head.
“God, please let my baby live. God, please let my baby live. God, please….”
The photo is sad irony.
It is a perfect portrait of how I feel right now.
All I can hope for is for each new 24 hour passage to take me closer to whole again.