The M-Word

This post was originally shared on August 22, 2013 over on With(out) Child.

I’m sharing this post here, 3 years after writing and publishing it, as a reminder of the journey we took to become parents. It’s something that permanently altered the path of my life, for better and for worse.

If this is something you’re currently struggling with, or have struggled with it in the past, know that you are not alone. For those who haven’t been touched by a loss like this, you are the lucky ones. It’s believed that 1 in 3 women will experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss at some point in their lives.

Miscarriage: The club that no one wants to be a part of and only the members know how expensive the dues are.

I joined the club on July 5th, 2012.

It was my first pregnancy; one that had taken 2 years to create.

Over… after a mere 10.5 weeks.

The memory of that day will be forever etched in my brain and my heart. From the deep fear that something terribly wrong was happening, to the actual feeling of passing my baby in the bathroom of the lab while someone was outside waiting to get in. The words of the Ultrasound Tech still burn in my ears: “There is no evidence of pregnancy. Are you sure you were even pregnant?”

And then heading down to the Midwife Center—a place where I expected a bit more compassion—where I was simply handed a card for a Reproductive Endocrinologist and told I’d have to come back hours later to get the shot of RhoGAM I needed. It took a near meltdown to get everything taken care of on the spot, so I could go home and mourn.

The icing on the cake: being seated next to a squeaky-voiced 13 year old girl who was pregnant “with her first” while getting blood drawn post-miscarriage. If looks could kill, she would have been dead in seconds.

The days and weeks after were a total blur, mostly because I spent them sobbing and sleeping.

Every time I went to the bathroom, the bleeding was a painful reminder of what was happening (or not happening) to my body. I would return to bed and cry myself to sleep.

Checking email, going on Facebook, and being on Twitter was a disaster. Every day someone new would share their happy news, talk about how pregnant they were, or share the birth of their precious babies. I, on the other hand, got to share a different kind of news. The kind no one wants to hear, and no one knows how to deal with.

Physically, it felt like my body was taking my emotional pain and suffering and inserting into every muscle, joint, and movement. Emotionally, it felt like my heart had been ripped out, stepped on, torn into bits, and haphazardly shoved back in.

I would watch as my husband engaged with the world — smiling, laughing, working, and carrying on — wondering how he wasn’t coming apart at the seems like I was.

After a few weeks, I went out to Arizona to visit my family. I broke down packing, telling myself that I was supposed to be pregnant the next time I went to visit. That I was supposed to go maternity clothes shopping with my mom, bonding about the baby growing inside of me, and my growing belly.

Instead, I got my period for the first time since the miscarriage.

It was (thankfully) a light period with zero cramping, but it was still torture. I remember locking myself in my room, crying and writing about how unfair this whole thing was, how traumatizing it was to see the blood, and how much I wasn’t looking forward to having to “try” again.

Getting back on the baby-making wagon…

The first time we had sex again after the miscarriage, I cried for 20 minutes.

Taking my temperature again and charting every day made me angry.

Being told that it will happen again and to just be patient made my head want to explode.

It did get easier with each passing month. But it also got harder. And all of those thoughts from our 2 years spent trying came back with a vengeance. “What did I do to deserve this?” “Why can’t my body just do what it’s supposed to do?” “What’s wrong with me?” “I’m broken.” and a personal favorite, “I’m a failure and can’t do anything right, let alone get pregnant.”

The painful reminders…

A really good friend of mine was due 3 days after I was supposed to be. In the beginning—when I was pregnant—I was excited to have someone to go through everything with. After the miscarriage, seeing her do all of the things I couldn’t do, like having a healthy pregnancy and holding the baby in her arms at the end of 9 months, was devastating. It took a long time to make peace with the situation and to be able to see her again.

My due-date came and went. Not a single person (not even my husband) remembered. It was like the world had gone on, while I was still holding my breath and waiting.

The 1-year anniversary of finding out I was pregnant came and went, again without notice by anyone but me.

As did the 1-year anniversary of the miscarriage. I had intended to share my story then, but for some reason felt like it wasn’t time.

Finding acceptance.

While I will never understand the reasons why I had a miscarriage, I was able to accept it for what it was: a shitty and intensely painful experience.

There were a few things that did seem to make the whole process a little more gentle.

  • First and foremost, I let myself grieve. I knew that deep down, all of that crying, sleeping, and mourning was completely necessary. There were no short cuts around it; I couldn’t skip the crying and move right back into the “let’s do this” mindset. You have to go through it to get through it became my new mantra.
  • I got a massage. My body was a mess after the miscarriage, and that’s putting it kindly. I was feeling every inch of my emotional pain in a very physical way, and needed to let someone else take care of me and help me release it. I fought back tears on the table and came home feeling like I had been beaten up. And then, miraculously, a few days later felt lighter and more stable.
  • I read up on miscarriage and what to expect from my physical body in the weeks and months following. There was something very calming about doing the research. I think it got me out of my heart and pain for a while, and into my head.
  • I reached out to friends and family. Every time I was feeling sad, alone, or just plain frustrated with my life (and body), I picked up the phone. Even if was a 5 minute phone call, that connection was incredibly helpful.
  • I buried myself in work. I know it sounds so cliché, but I totally buried myself in work for a while. It felt good to do and think about something other than how miserable and sad I was.
  • I wrote. A lot. Writing has always been cathartic. It’s the one place where I always feel like I can be myself, like no one will judge me for the things swirling around in my brain. So, I kept a Miracle Journal based on the book Make Miracles in Forty Days by Melodie Beattie. What I love most about this book (and the list-making) is that it focuses on acceptance of life exactly as it is. Which is exactly what I needed at the time.
  • I turned to meditation and prayer. This one took a little longer to implement, and is something I have only begun to get into recently. I’m not sure if it would have helped early on, as my brain had a really hard time letting go of the pain. 1+ years out, and it’s the exact right thing for me to be doing.
  • I did things just for me. I got a massage, I went in for acupuncture, I got my nails done, I bought myself new clothes. I did whatever I could to be kind to myself, and to make myself feel special, beautiful, and whole again.

My miscarriage will always be a part of my story, but I can honestly say 3 years out, that is it just that. A part of my story.

Image Credit: Jiri Hodan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

More about Emily Levenson

Emily Levenson is a therapist turned holistic health coach, podcaster, meditation encourager, and seeker of everyday magic. Emily recently kicked off her third #The100DayProject, focusing her efforts on daily meditation.

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