*This post first appeared on Scary Mommy. I wrote it about three months ago, weeks after having a miscarriage. I linked it to my Instagram briefly for people who looked there, but it’s since been removed, and I didn’t post it otherwise. Miscarriage is so silent, and I suppose I understand some of the reasons now. Even in my sharing, I was quiet. I am loud and proud when it comes to loving and missing Bethie, but this was different. The pride was missing, and it made suppressing the love easy. There is nothing to hide and no reason to feel shame, though, and there is companionship and compassion to gain from sharing. We were ready (we are still ready) to love another child, and now we are waiting. We don’t know how our story will unfold, but I do know that I am not alone. Neither are you.
Oh. Hello, loss. It hasn’t been nearly long enough.
I had a miscarriage two weeks ago. I lost a fourteen-month-old daughter, Bethie, sixteen months before that. We will continue on; we will keep living, loving, even laughing – but we will also feel like it has been enough.
Because it has been enough.
When we decided to try for a third child, miscarriage was not on my mind. Perhaps it should have been – I am thirty-six after all – but it wasn’t. Plenty of other situations were, but we looked beyond and we chose hope. And we got pregnant.
I saw myself in the mirror that day. I had an actual glow. I knew it; my husband confirmed it. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. I understand the fragility of life. I understand that it is not guaranteed. I understand these things because I have lived them. I truly felt like I was carrying a gift. I walked around thinking about Bethie hand picking her brother or sister in heaven and sending him or her down to us. I felt like I had everything.
Then I started bleeding. It didn’t stop. Miscarriage is still very silent, despite so many speaking out about their experiences with it. And the physical pain – I had no idea. I had spent time reflecting on and trying to imagine the emotional pain, and I suppose I should have known that physical pain went along with it, but I didn’t – I didn’t think about it.
There is physical pain, though, and it is intense and messy and seems somehow insulting on top of everything else. Walking around town not only emotionally devastated, but also physically losing your child – bleeding and cramping while you pick up your toddler from preschool, passing clots while you push a swing back and forth at the park, leaving the store in a rush without the milk you need because you can’t stand upright any longer.
The emotional pain would have been enough.
Because, you see, the emotional pain is ravaging. It takes all the breath from your lungs; it fills your heart to the brim; it brings you to your knees. When I knew with certainty that I was miscarrying, the first way I coped was imagining Bethie in heaven standing up to God – yelling at him, telling him no, having a tantrum in defense of her mom and dad. And I loved her for it. I thought about our feisty daughter claiming she knew what was best for us, and berating God for standing by idly while our dreams were crushed.
But then (eventually) I thought about all of the other mothers feeling like the luckiest women in the world – rejoicing that their prayers had been answered, waiting anxiously for morning sickness and fatigue to set in, imagining with unchecked joy their children growing inside. And I thought:
“What if God knew he had to send one baby that would not make it, one baby that would not fulfill prayers, but rather bring hope quickly followed by sorrow?”
And then I paused and thought:
“What if Bethie volunteered me? What if she knew that I would want another mother’s dreams fulfilled before mine, another mother’s prayers answered first. What if Bethie believed in our strength, love, and patience, and what if Bethie asked God to send this baby to us?”
And I cried. I cried proud tears – proud to have a daughter in heaven, proud to have a daughter who believes in us, proud to love this daughter and her brother with all we have and throughout all life gives us.
And so for now, it has been enough – the pain has been enough. But, just as importantly, they are also enough – these two children, this life, this love that will always remain. And hopefully, again, love will be enough to carry us through what happens next.