Sharing in Loss

I had a miscarriage last week. I’ve actually had two now although I felt strongly that I shouldn’t even mourn the first baby after having talked with my doctor about the science behind the loss and having not felt the loss in the way I thought I should have considering that the baby would have been Sofie’s twin. These are not words I ever thought I’d have to say, and when I realized the reality of their truth, I did not know whether I wanted to share the words with anyone. I have several friends and acquaintances who have been through what I’ve been through. I’ve seen people share their stories through social media, but no matter how many times I’ve seen the words, I still feel like there is a culture in our world that requires us to keep quiet about it. That’s why we don’t share about pregnancies until we’ve hit that magical 12-week mark. And I definitely stuck with that decorum, being a creature valuing tradition almost irrationally, with my last pregnancy. But why should we have to? Should we pretend, for all intensive purposes, that the person we become after the loss of a child is nonexistent to the outside world?  If we do not tell the world there was a baby and then do not tell the world (our world, the world which we feel would support us and be there for us) that there was a loss, that is exactly what we are doing. And for what? To spare someone else the uncomfortable situation of sympathy with complete disregard for our own need to be a part of a community?

I have written and rewritten this, battled with how to talk about it, agonized over what I want to say. I’ve asked Ben if I should say anything at all or keep this locked away in our little bubble. I’m still not sure that I’m completely comfortable sharing this news or my feelings surrounding it as I worry about the consequences of my vulnerability. I worry about what people might think of me. I worry that it shows my weaknesses. I worry that I’ll be pitied. And that’s not why I write this. For all my doubts and fears and worries, I really feel like I have to write this. I have to write this for all of the women, and there are so many, the women who feel like they cannot voice their grief. I have to write this for the mothers who have lost a child and felt they must face the world with a smile and without a mention of the pain.

In truth, I have no ultrasound to share, no memories of kicks to savor, no audio recordings of a heartbeat. We hadn’t made it that far with this baby, and for some, that might negate the experience that I’ve had. And while I know that there are mothers who have felt those kicks, seen the poochy little lips, even held the baby in their arms before having to say goodbye, and I cannot even fathom the pain of that loss, I did have hope. I have the memory of a Valentine’s week surprise, playing in the snow with our Sofie girl and wondering what it would be like to have two under two. I have the daydreams of another nursery, more pink little toes. And… I am changed by this. Not for the worse, no. Perhaps I am changed for the better, although I have not quite sorted that out. I know that the experience I have gone through has not broken me. I know this because I cried over the loss the minute I could feel the baby slipping away, before the blood tests and the confirmations and the appointments. But I also laughed and smiled with my husband and my Sofie the next morning. I have had moments of heartache and moments of inspiration. I have moments of clarity I did not have before this baby existed. I have made decisions I did not think I could make before. I know that this experience has not broken me. We can go through the worst tragedy and come out strong. I know that now. I know that I cannot go on being the same person I once was to the outside world while being this changed person in my bubble. And, even though I know there are so many women who do share this news, who lean on their peers and friends and social network for comfort and (I wholeheartedly applaud their courage), I also know there are many women who don’t feel like they can. I want to encourage those women to share. Share your pregnancy when you feel ready, not when some antiquated tradition tells you its okay. Share when you want the world to celebrate with you and share when you need the world to lift you up in the face of the all too frequent tragedy of loss.

As you finishing reading this, do not feel bad for me. I have a full life, and I believe everything happens for a reason. Even though, right now, our house feels a lingering sense of sadness, I do not wish for that sadness to leave quite yet. I know that it is there to remind me of this little moment we shared and still share together, and I know that we are okay.

Sarah Carpenter