We have chosen the theme for the month of February to be “Sharing our Stories” as we all have a story to share. By sharing our stories we have the opportunity to heal ourselves, heal each other, and break the taboo surrounding miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Story telling is a powerful tool of healing.
Every year I try to come up with a word to focus on. One year it was JOY. One year it was HOPE. This year I was contemplating what word I needed to focus on. Simplify? Prioritize? Gratitude? Service? But the recurring word that has come up for me over and over is STORY TELLING. I admit, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I always have a story to share about whatever is being talked about. Clearly I need to work on keeping my mouth closed! Maybe my word needs to be listening? Listening is an art as well and a valuable tool of healing. Maybe I need to work on listening to others stories? I digress here. The theme of story telling has come up over and over. And we would love to hear your stories.
Please share your stories on miscarriage, pregnancy loss, hope, healing, the journey to your baby, the journey to a rainbow (garnet) baby, the journey to decide to be done. Whatever story is in your heart needing to be shared, that is the one we want to hear.
As soon as I learned the theme for this month’s Blog Circle with The Amethyst Network, especially since it coincides with the month of my second miscarriage experience, I knew it was time for me to finally try to share my story of my second miscarriage.
In January 2010, I experienced a sort of “mysterious surprise” conception. We’d been planning to try again after having lost Noah, I kept waiting and waiting to ovulate and “never” did. I had a dream that I was pregnant and decided to take a pregnancy test just in case. It was positive. I still have confusion about how it happened and how long I was pregnant. I did eventually find the embryo from the pregnancy, which seemed consistent with a 5-6 week embryo, so that I how I define the loss. On February 1 of 2010, I began to bleed red and I knew that my slender hope of a viable pregnancy-after-loss was bleeding away. This miscarriage was a crushing blow, one of the lowest and darkest experiences of my life. While I’d found courage, strength, and even joy and purpose in Noah’s miscarriage-birth, the second miscarriage brought me to floor in despair and confusion. Because there wasn’t a clear-cut “birth event” and there was no baby to hold, name, and cry over, it seemed ambiguous, amorphous, and just so confusing. This miscarriage actually dragged on for almost the entire month of February, with positive pregnancy tests up until a week before I started another period. For some time I even held out hope that I was somehow still pregnant, despite the bleeding and the tiny embryo. In my journal I wrote the story of my feelings:
…I feel dissolved. I am disconnected from this experience and feel unreal and unmoored….I feel so foolish—WHY did I think I could do this again. Why did I open myself up to this again so soon? Why did I let Noah’s birth get run over by this new loss that I fear will eclipse the lessons, gifts, strength, and wisdom he brought to me….I do not want people to have to feel sorry for me again so soon. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want people to forget Noah and what he meant. I don’t want him to be lost in a string of recurrent losses…I told Mark I am done after this, at least for a good long while. We now have been trying to have another baby for over a year. AND, I have been pregnant during at least part of every month since July 2009…
As it turns out, I did decide I was willing to open myself up to pain one more time and after the February loss, conceived Alaina in early May, meaning I had technically only one “non-pregnant” month between July 2009 and January 2011. Whoa. No wonder I felt so confused and unmoored.
I continue in my journal…
I started to bash myself today about how I have felt so trapped by motherhood on so many different occasions and have yearned for “freedom.” Well, now I’ve got it. My kids steadily need me less and less and I am more mobile and free than I’ve been in six years and so now what?! I can’t believe Zander was the last—last to nurse, to sleep in our bed, to be carried in the Ergo, to watch crawl and learn to walk, to hold in scrunchy newbornness. I’m NOT DONE YET. Or am I? My body is saying yes [I’m done] and my fear is that my subconscious somehow made it so—perhaps the unconscious message I’ve been sending about having another baby is a NO instead of yes.
I do not want to end our family’s childbearing experience on this note of heartache. I do not want my boys to associate pregnancy with dead babies and a crying mama.
I feel like my career ends here too. And, my joy for other women.
I’m also embarrassed to have tried again “too soon” and “failed” again. I really wanted to be pregnant again to fix myself. To right the “wrongness” of being non-pregnant. To show myself (and my kids and the world) that I could still do it. But, I couldn’t after all. What a hideous realization. I think I feel more shame than sadness…I am back to not knowing who I am and not feeling like a good enough or worthy person. I felt a fundamental sense of worth after Noah and I lost it—it has evaporated.
In the night as I laid awake for two hours thinking, I had a lot of memories of how deconstructed I felt after L & Z were born. How NON and how captive and bound. It was HARD for me to transition to motherhood and to give up so many pieces of my identity and sense of myself. And now, I’m on the other side (??) of my childbearing years and suddenly it seems like a FLASH. Like those captive, denied, blocked, not allowed moments have evaporated into nothingness, leaving me both with new clarity and yet nothing tangible.
I just want to say two things again:
- I do NOT want people to feel sorry again for me so soon.
- I feel DUMB
I do not feel like I am handling this well or with strength. I just feel numb and dumb and done and done for. I am bottoming out right now. Bottom. Pit. Despair.
It is hard for me to read this again, to type it out, and to remember these feelings. It still feels strange or confusing to me about how Noah’s birth was “easier” for me to cope with emotionally—even as it was the most fundamental and profound grief I’ve ever experienced, it was clean. It felt meaningful. It also had a distinct physical, embodied connection via having given birth to him. The second miscarriage felt like being kicked while I was down and being erased.
On my old miscarriage blog I explained my feelings about this miscarriage like this:
…this miscarriage experience was very different from my experience with Noah. It was extremely confusing and not clear-cut and was very personally undermining. My sense of body failure and almost “shame” was much, much higher. It was confusing as to when I got pregnant, how pregnant I was, and when I stopped being pregnant—I kept having positive tests for almost a month after I started bleeding, etc., etc. Very confusing and hard to come to terms with—because there is so much I don’t understand. It was a terribly painful blow right on the heels of Noah’s loss and I just couldn’t DEAL with it. I had thought I was ready to handle a new pregnancy, but I definitely was not ready (emotionally or psychologically) to handle another loss. The physical experience was, in its way, “no big deal”—it was the semi-mythological “heavy period” type of m/c, though even less crampy than a normal period—though I was stunned when about six days after the first bleeding, I found the tiny embryo (smaller than a grain of rice—maybe 5 weeks?). I really expected to see nothing and it was terribly shocking to suddenly see it. Since Noah’s birth was so much a birth, in a way this experience was harder to deal with, because it was very prolonged and had no clear-cut beginning or end. Very strange experience overall. I hesitate to even talk about it. I was surprised by how very DUMB I felt about having tried again. For having opened myself up to loss again so soon. For “cheapening” his memory by dumping another loss right on top of it. For thinking I could just pick back up where I left off and be “fixed” by a new pregnancy, etc., etc., etc. It was a very isolating experience and I also felt like it “undid” some of the good and positive things that came from Noah’s birth.
I was taking an online class in how to lead Birth Art sessions when I experienced my second miscarriage and I decided to create some birth art about miscarriage. This was my drawing:
Birth Art is about “process,” not product, so it is not supposed to be beautiful or even interpretable. The dice refer to our feeling of “tossing the dice” one more time—the numbers 3 and 4 show on the dice—and having those tosses end in blood. The question mark is self-explanatory with the squiggles representing all my reading and efforts to understand. The night I realized that I definitely going to have another m/c, I lay in bed and kept picturing a bridge that I was going to have to cross alone—-leaving behind the safe and familiar. A song kept running through my head, “keep walking in the light….keep following the path…” So, the little figure walking across the bridge is that. Tears are running down below her. The little bubble with other stick figures in it is the women who have gone before me—who are close to me, but I still have to cross alone. The happy pregnant woman behind me represents the “other side”—the one I can’t go back to. The naïvety. The certainty that a positive pregnancy test will result in a baby nine months later. She is all the other women who haven’t “been there” and I am forever separated from her by a wall (the thick line above her head). Or, she is the former me—falling down, down, down and away. The the right is my uterus, weeping both tears and blood. The ovaries and inside the uterus glow with energy. There are some purple dots inside to represent each of my babies—the largest one is actually a little “baby in my heart” image, like my pendant. It is larger because of my feeling post-Noah that I would always be a “little bit pregnant with him.”
So, there it is. My second miscarriage story in all its confusion, sadness, and nearly crippling despair. Thanks for listening.