The Thing Nobody Wants to Talk About
I’ve found myself writing this in my head for several weeks, so that must mean that it needs to get out. This month, October, and specifically the 15th, is dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss awareness. It’s okay if you weren’t aware - I know breast cancer awareness kind of overtakes everything this month. I'm praying that by finally working up the courage to share this, it might help someone.
Very few people know this, but several years ago I had a miscarriage. And then, six months later, another one. I wasn’t married at the time, in fact I hadn’t even met my husband yet, and the relationship I was in definitely wasn’t long term.
The first time I found out I was pregnant, I was devastated. I’ve always been against abortion, but for a moment, I understood why that thought might enter someone’s mind. I was surprised and overwhelmed by how fast I felt a connection to the tiny baby inside me. I’d always dreamed about being a mom, and it was happening. Much earlier than I had planned, and not in the way I had planned, but it was happening! I began dreaming, and wishing, and thinking of baby names. Then, almost a week later, I started bleeding. When I began to miscarry, I was devastated. It hit me hard, and the emotions I felt were muddled and confusing. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t immediately know how bad. It was December, and there was a huge snowstorm. Power was out all over town. I sat in the emergency room for several hours, waiting to hear what I already suspected. I felt numb. I felt angry. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. In all the scenarios I could think of where I would find myself pregnant before I was married, this was never an outcome.
The next one happened six months later. It was, again, unplanned - sort of. I knew that having a baby at that time with that person wasn’t a good idea, but ever since my first miscarriage, my longing for a baby was overwhelming. When I found out that time I was pregnant, I was elated. This was fantastic! I was being given another chance! But this one, too, wasn’t meant to be. My second miscarriage seemed to drag on. For several weeks, I kept spotting, and didn’t know if I was still pregnant or not. When I finally got the confirmation from my doctor that I had lost the baby, I almost felt relieved. At least I knew it was done. I remember sitting in the emergency room, and the doctor told me “It’s okay, you can just try again and have another one.” After he left, the nurse who was in the room apologized for his words and let me know that it was a big deal, and that I had a right to grieve.
What I realized after having my miscarriages is how little most people really know about this topic. My emotions were complicated - I was grieving the loss of babies I hadn’t planned, and I still felt shame about my secret of my pre-marital “activities” that weren’t such a secret anymore. I wanted to talk to someone, but no one seemed to know what to say or how to listen. I found it difficult to be around anyone who was pregnant - the jealousy and memories I felt were too traumatic. I was really struggling, and very depressed, and went for counseling at church. There were two women I spoke with. They were well-meaning, I’m sure, but started our conversation by saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t check before out meeting - what are you here to talk about today?” Neither of them had ever experienced losing a child. When I said I was having a hard time moving past losing the baby, they suggested I throw away anything that reminded me of it. At that point, I lost it, and started bawling. I didn’t want the baby to be gone, I wanted to still be pregnant, and have my child!
Fast forward a few years, when Daryl and I were ready to start our own family. (I should add that when he found out about my miscarriages, it didn’t phase him. He was supportive, and sensitive, and listened to me.) We were trying for a baby, but it wasn’t happening. I was impatient, and began to doubt that it would ever happen. I was again insanely jealous of everyone who was pregnant. We finally got pregnant, and had our first daughter. Then we had our son. Then, surprise - we had our second daughter! I am so happy with our children we have, and feel so blessed. What’s surprising, though, is the guilt I sometimes feel. I feel guilty that some people who have tried for so long still don’t have children. I feel guilty for ever doubting that God was listening to my prayers for babies.
After my miscarriages, people told me that God didn’t take away my babies. I always thought, in my mind, what a lie that was - obviously He gave them, and He took them away. No one seemed to want to talk to me about it though, or to listen to me. They just wanted to give me their advice to shut me up, and help me “get over it”. If you’ve talked to anyone who’s ever lost someone they love, nothing you say to them is going to make them “get over it”.
What I want to say to you now, if you’ve gone through this, is that I will listen. There are other people who will listen, too. Even though it hurts, by talking about this, we can help people understand. Talking will help us heal. It’s good to honor the memory of your babies who were taken too early. If you haven’t experienced this, be sensitive to those who have. Be open to listening to your friends and family. This is a horrible, unwanted, devastating thing to go through, but it makes it better if someone will just listen.
Thank you for "talking." I too had two miscarriages and everything you said, I also felt. Today I am a grandmother to an 18mo old granddaughter with another granddaughter due next month. I know I'm blessed. But every once in awhile, I think of my two angel babies. And I am comforted because I believe that one day, when I have to leave this world behind, I'll be able--finally--to hold them.
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