When we miscarried in early October I comforted myself by saying "well at least I'll be pregnant again by my due date".
The calendar now tells me that's unlikely. That bitch. Pardon my French.
May 2nd is just weeks away and despite the many online forums filled with people saying that just a couple months after their miscarriage they found themselves pregnant again, that just isn't me and that's okay.
Now don't get me wrong. This post isn't to tell you all that I'm 100%. That we're completely healed, and that things are all sunshine and rainbows and unlimited boxes of Thin Mints. It's more about finally getting to a place of acceptance and how despite something truly devastating happening to us, I can see the good that's come from it.
33 weeks pregnant with Liv
Before I get to the healing, let's talk about the dealing. One of the most brutal aspects of my miscarriage has been watching other people grow their families. Friends, family, hell, even Doc McStuffins' mom and dad just adopted! It's where I'm at in life. At nearly thirty it's no surprise that the people around me are pulling the goalie and moving full steam ahead towards baby town. You can't really fault them for that. Just like I can't fault myself for flinching when I open Instagram or Facebook and am greeted with yet another pregnancy announcement. Sometimes it's more than a flinch. Sometimes it sends me right back to October when I was rocking myself in the corner over the loss of a child I'd never get to know.
No matter when you miscarry, whether it's five weeks, eleven like us, or God forbid further into pregnancy, it's a loss. How it affects you, how painful it is, is personal. There's no expiration date on your grief and there's no wrong or right way to feel...but you have to feel. I'm someone who "pushes through". I have to, don't I? I have a child to care for and a business to run. Sitting in bed crying for days on end just isn't an option for me and I found it so tempting to just push through the pain and not feel it, which really didn't help at all. So I felt, and I felt some more. I let in the disbelief, the longing, the anger, and the crushing sadness.
So where's the good that's come from it? What's the point in sharing? I guarantee if you ask a friend who's miscarried how much time they've spent on the internet reading about pregnancy loss, they'll tell you it's significant. I found blog posts from other women whose stories became a lifeline for me in those early days. Whether they had gone on to conceive again or not, I clung to their stories because the one commonality they all shared was this:
They all survived.
Melodramatic? Maybe. It's sort of my personality, but in the days after my miscarriage I felt swallowed by pain, grief, and true misery. Seeing that these women had gone on to find happiness, in any way, was a sort of salve for my soul. It gave me hope that things wouldn't always feel this way. I'm hopeful that this may help somebody, somewhere, who's looking for some comfort, some hope, something to look forward to.
When I lost our baby I knew exactly one other person who'd miscarried. Now I can't even count the number of people I consider friends who've miscarried on two hands. So there's your silver lining number one. I've met and developed relationships with the most amazing women throughout this process. Women who give me comfort, strength, perspective, and who really make me believe that this is all going to work out. Nothing cuts through the BS of competition and cattiness that women can sometimes create quite like mutual loss. Even women who've not miscarried have become friends I may not have made otherwise. In the months after my miscarriage I really put myself out there, trying to keep busy, and it paid off so much. Existing friendships were bettered and my appreciation for them deepened. Not too shabby.
Silver lining number two:
Personal growth. My experience with grief has been mercifully little. I suppose I never really had any practice dealing with the emotion. I've still got all four of my grandparents and the only time I've really had to say goodbye was to our family dog.
I've learned that grief is a funny thing. It either breaks you or makes you and maybe even does a little of both. I felt so broken when we left the hospital, and while I'll never get that piece of myself back, it has really changed who I am for the better. I'm more compassionate, I'm more fiercely protective of my family, I'm finally able to stick up for myself, I'm stronger, and I've learned that I can fight. Fight every day to find something positive, to focus on that goodness and to try to build on it. In an effort to distract myself I threw myself into my business and watched that grow much more rapidly than it would have otherwise. I've taken up new hobbies I've always wanted to try and enjoyed them immensely. I've taken the time to nurture relationships with my husband, friends, my mother, even my daughter. It has truly made my overall life more full.
As time passes, wounds heal and while I'll never forget this experience, I can feel myself moving on. I've accepted that this happened to us and that there are far worse things we could suffer. I have such a heightened appreciation for the good things in our life and I don't want to let this precious time with my daughter pass me by because I'm so focused on something I cannot change. I'm sure that someday we'll have another baby (though even if we don't) and I don't want to look back and regret that I squandered this time by obsessing over what was clearly not meant to be. I've grieved and will continue to as I find I need to, but that gripping sadness has faded.
For the majority of the past few months I've been wanting a pregnancy to help punctuate this time. I felt that I couldn't move on from our loss without another pregnancy. While I do think another pregnancy will absolutely make us happy, it can't be the punctuation. That has to come from me. I have to decide that it's time to move from "post miscarriage" into "living life". I hope that's what someone going through this will take away. That it really does get better. That the potential to turn things around is there and you're capable of it.
So does that mean I'm not trying frantically for another baby? While I wouldn't say frantically, I'm going to continue to pee on all the ovulation sticks in the land because 1. we do want to grow our family and 2. it's just kind of fun. Yes, the disappointment with each successive "not pregnant" month is hard, but what are the options? Give up? Or keep going.
So while we wait for our time to come, I'm going to say congratulations to the McStuffins family, accept the pain when it comes (because it will continue to come knocking from time to time), maybe pour a glass of wine, and then shift my thoughts to what's in front of me...and realize that while I've lost, I've certainly gained.