Since October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I thought I would sit down and write to share a personal experience that has changed and shaped me into the woman I am today. Without this experience I know I would not be where and who I am today. Some of you may have experienced the same loss. And some hopefully, will never have to go through such devastation. An experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The statistic is 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. 1 in 4. 1 in 4!! Yes! 1 in 4. Look around the room you're sitting in, perhaps it was you or the woman sitting next to you, or the next. I'm sure if you were to ask your circle of friends, you'd find that at least one of them has had a miscarriage or perhaps even two. It is a lot more common than we think. First and foremost, we don't talk about it because it's taboo. In my opinion, this shouldn't be a taboo subject. This is a natural part of life. How can we live life thinking it's all roses, when the cold hard facts are that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss? Why don't we know this? Another reason I'm writing this is to spread awareness of this reality. An additional reason we don't like talking about this kind of loss is because it can happen so early in a pregnancy, some people don't even consider it a loss of life because it was so early in the first trimester.
My miscarriage was beyond devastating. It sent me into a deep depression that caused me to push many people away and almost cost me my marriage. No one knew what to say to me or how to say they were sorry. There were a lot of well-meaning and well-intentioned words, but they fell flat and made me more upset. Like, "Don't worry, you'll get pregnant again." Really? Still waiting. Five years later. I almost feel like they cursed me by telling me that. "Oh, you were doing too much yoga." Whaaaattt? Hmmmm. Nope. Don't try to make me feel like I caused my own miscarriage. Thanks. That one stung for a while. Or, "It wasn't meant to be." Oh and miscarrying is my prize? Fantastic. I understand that people experience these kinds of losses differently and sometimes those words spoken by people are comforting. A simple, "I'm sorry" would have sufficed for me. We all grieve differently.
For a long time, everywhere I went all I saw were pregnant bellies and more news of friends expecting. I don't know if that was actually true or because my mind was so fixed on it, that's all I could see. I had to hide many Facebook friends during their pregnancies because it was so difficult to be happy for anyone while I was experiencing the most depressing time of my life. Even my father's death wasn't this awful.
I do also have to share the amazing and courageous women AND men who messaged me after our loss and shared their experiences with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your bravery and courage to reach out to someone who is suffering is beyond amazing! I won't ever forget you!
(TRIGGER WARNING: PLEASE SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO THIS SUBJECT MATTER)
The first ultrasound I went by myself. I didn't think it was totally necessary for my husband to miss work that day, I mean, what could go wrong? Now, I see the importance of his presence at that first appointment. When the ultrasound technician wasn't all smily and happy and showing me the heartbeat on the monitor, I knew something was up. She left the room. When she returned, she told me to get dressed and meet the doctor in his office. He broke the news to me that there was no heartbeat. And there was no growth. Stunned. I fought back the tears. I was having a total out of body experience for the rest of the day. As soon as I got downstairs and walked towards my car, I called my husband. I told him the news and I asked him to come home. I honestly don't even remember the drive home. This was supposed to be a happy time for us. I had broke the baby news on Facebook on his birthday. Our baby Fitzgerald would be here in September. I couldn't believe this was happening. Life was too perfect.
The week leading up to my second ultrasound was agonizing. Then of course on the Monday after my first ultrasound, my classroom assistant told me she was pregnant, YAY.
I had her transferred out of my classroom. I know, I'm such a bitch. But looking at her for the next 8 months would have done me in. I think she understood, we're good now. So, the following Friday, a week after the first ultrasound, my husband and I go back to the doctor's office for a second ultrasound to see if there has been any change. Unfortunately, no change. Next step, either let the body pass the baby naturally or have a D and C. For all of you who don't know what a D and C is, it is dilation and curettage. Basically, scrapping the inside of the uterus with a spoon-like instrument. Two weeks after the initial ultrasound I had my D and C to remove our baby from my uterus. It took me the remainder of the year to get back to my "normal self." The hormones do something wicked on the body and mind.
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This whole experience has given me gifts. The gift of time. The gift of grief. The gift of patience. The gift of compassion. I have more awareness than I had before. At the end of 2014, we were given another gift; a story. A story that I had not asked for nor wanted. It was the narrative of "unexplained infertility." We went through three unsuccessful IUIs in 2015. The fact that our inability to conceive is "unexplained" is the most frustrating feeling ever. If he or I had a real medical issue then we could "fix" it. We are both healthy, active, vegans who take very good care of our bodies. I haven't had any alcohol since February 2016. I meditate and practice self Reiki daily. I exercise everyday. I take incredible care of my body. I have a self-care routine that most women would love to have. I left a challenging career in hopes it would increase our chances of conception and decrease my stress levels. Stress plays a major role in conception. Taking care of my physical and mental health for the last two years has been of utmost importance and priority. I said good-bye to unhealthy habits and relationships.
Today, I am rewriting the narrative. I have to. Because if I don't I will stay stuck in limbo. And I don't want to stay stuck with this awful story. My body is strong and healthy. My body is ready to conceive. I'm closing the door on "unexplained infertility" and this story that has kept me a victim to my own body.
Along with the gifts of time, grief, patience, and compassion, I have also acquired some tools on this journey. To be gentler and kinder to myself. To be okay with not getting all the tasks done. To choose to have a restorative practice instead of a vigorous asana practice. To say, "no," and let go of things that are not meant for me. To choose what is best for me each and every day. After five years, I have a different perspective. I'm not so sad anymore. I realize now, that the miscarriage was part of my journey. It has softened me in ways where I was too hard. It has given my husband and I time to become solid in our marriage and future. It has given me time to become the best version of myself. And to me, that is the best gift of all! Baby dust to all hoping for babies in the future. And for the hopes of our Rainbow Baby.