The legacy of miscarriage is profound. Recently, for some reason I felt drawn to read a book that I bought when I was pregnant with Alaina, but didn’t want to read while pregnant. Our Stories of Miscarriage was a very good book and I wish I had read it when my miscarriages were in process rather than now, in retrospect. The book is a collection of personal stories, essays, poems, and reflections about miscarriage and stillbirth (mostly miscarriage). Most of the stories are written by women and there are a handful written by fathers. I marked these things that I found meaningful…
I no longer underestimate the bond between a mother and her baby, no matter how tiny, in her womb (p. 19)
While I know this is not everyone’s experience and that people who are pro-choice often balk at this kind of language, this is true of my own experience. (For the record, I consider myself pro-woman and for me that does mean supporting the full spectrum of reproductive rights, but I have always felt a very uncomfortable and almost impossible to reconcile tension between my own, innate sense that a “fetus” IS a real and valuable baby and my own commitment to upholding the rights of each woman to make the best decisions for her own body).
I also appreciated this quote from a woman writing about talking to a friend who also had a miscarriage (and whether it is okay to talk about your own experiences/share your own story):
I can’t really say I know how you feel. I only know how I felt…
I think this is really nice choice of wording to empathize and share, without dominating another woman’s experience with your own narrative or feelings.
In another story, a mother says:
Now I know what it is like to lose a baby, so when I get pregnant again, I don’t need to know the gender, to have a trauma-free birth, to get the exact birthday, or to worry about making sure I’m relaxed. I just want a baby (p. 113).
I identified with this also, having written repeatedly during my pregnancy with Alaina that my main goal was live baby. While I still think it is perfectly reasonable and indeed should be a given that you have the right to BOTH have a “trauma-free birth” AND a baby (which, I did in fact have), my focus during my post-loss pregnancy experience was more definitely on having that living baby. I have written several times about how miscarriage allowed me to be much more able to understand the women who say, “all that matters is a healthy baby” or, “it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, what matters is that she gets here.” While I will always maintain that both matter, my empathy for those statements did increase.
Yesterday, a friend of mine who had borrowed my doppler returned it to me. Looking at that box I remembered how often I’d used it during my pregnancy for the “life status update” of the day. I had a lot of cognitive dissonance about excessive ultrasound exposure and yet I was compelled to know if she was still alive. Looking at the box, it all seemed so far away. That fear. That uncertainty. That inner struggle. One of the reasons I published my own miscarriage memoir is because I wanted to be able to share how it all felt right then. That rawness of emotion and spirit, not the experience as filtered through time and new babies and healing of heartache.
The stories of other women reaching out across the page and across the years is a beautiful gift to all the women to follow who find themselves joining the same, unwanted “club” of babyloss mamas. I identified with the closing journal entry of Our Stories of Miscarriage reflecting on, “all the women who comforted me with stories…a sorority of sorrow, these women, and now myself among them, moving past the pain to find a jagged peace in comforting another suffering sister.” (Edgren, p. 184, emphasis mine)