Preface: This has nothing to do with quilting. Aside from the fact that a quilter is currently typing, this will be the least quilty thing you read here. Before continuing, I have a disclaimer – this is the retelling of my experience having a miscarriage. So...feel free to stop here.
If you are appalled/aghast/offended that I am bringing up this sad and personal story, I want you to know that I vacillated over whether or not this was appropriate. But then decided, who cares? It's my blog. I think it might make me feel better. So here we go...
With each day that passes, I whisper to the air around me, "This isn’t how things were supposed to go." I’ve somehow jumped off course – I’ve jumped into the wrong timeline. I’m living in an alternate universe that’s completely wrong and I would like to return to my regularly scheduled programming, please. Do you hear that, Universe? I SAID that I would like to jump back into the life I am supposed to be living.
Motherhood has always been a great mystery to me. For a large portion of my life, the mystery was why anyone would want to be a mother at all. It looked like a lot of hard work and sacrifice with little payoff.
As my view on motherhood shifted, the mystery changed – these tiny humans are so breakable, yet mothers somehow keep them alive and intact! Why don’t I hear about kids being left in flower shops, or grocery stores? Why aren’t more parents dropping kids or accidentally shutting them in the refrigerator door? The more I thought about this, the more I decided that mothers must acquire a superpower that I, at the moment, did not have.
My current stage of mystery is a question that's been playing on repeat in my head, "Who are these shiny, healthy women who make motherhood look so attainable?" These masters of reproduction act like all I have to do is canoodle with my husband a few times and BAM! Nine months later we are sharing birthing photos on Facebook. Why is that the story painted for the world?
The moment I saw two lines on my pregnancy test I felt like a mother. Granted, a terrified and devastatingly inept one, but a mother just the same. A tiny seed of hope and possibility formed inside of me. Against all fears and rationality, my heart started to beat for two.
After my positive pregnancy test, weeks progressed and the app on my phone informed me that my little pumpkin seed had grown to the size of a blueberry. The ember of hope that I could make this mommy thing work began to glow bright. John and I could make a fun-loving family unit of three. That fuzzy, beautiful feeling of hope started taking the form of solid shapes, pictures and plans.
By week seven...oh week seven...you deplorable, overrated week. The day I hit week seven I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was in the clear. The chance of the M-word dropped dramatically and I was just a week away from the big eight. After the eight week mark, chances of losing a pregnancy drop even more. I went back to my hometown for Christmas feeling quite pleased with myself and my healthy baby-making bits.
Denial is a short word that can last a long time. As I write, I’m still in denial that this is how the story plays out for me. When I started bleeding the day after Christmas I thought, “This is fine. No need to panic. I’m sure this happens all the time.” Four days later, sitting on my couch back in Chicago, I still catch myself thinking, “Everything is fine. You will go back to the doctor and he’ll breathe a sigh of relief and say, ‘Mrs. Williams, you gave us all a scare, but the baby is just fine. Your healthy eating and regular exercise is what saved the day!’”
That last bit could be left out, but wouldn’t that be nice to hear too? Because why didn’t my green smoothies and regular spin classes save my baby? Aren’t I doing the right things? What happened? What went wrong?
I’m awake I tell myself. Get up. Put on pants. Tie your shoes. What was I doing? Oh yeah...tying my shoes…
I can’t move my limbs without enormous effort. I’m supposed to be washing a glass, but it’s not until the water gets too hot and burns my hand that I remember that I’m supposed to be washing a glass. Sometimes I feel my cheek and brush against something wet. I guess I’m crying. It’s hard to say. I feel like I’m underwater. Everything is wet.
The apathy is how I know I’m awake. My dreams typically revolve around an action or event – I’m learning to fly, but can’t get higher than 5 feet off the ground. I’ve shown up to a job interview but forgotten to wear a bra. My days now consist of sitting. Staring. Sometimes standing. But always staring.
This is the part that’s supposed to be redemptive.
Sorry, but I’m not there yet. At this point I’m supposed to say that things have gotten better and I wanted to share my story in the hopes that I could help other women going through something similar. Here’s the truth – I’m writing this with the meager hope that it will help me. Maybe if I sputter out some of the sadness that is inside of me I won’t feel so heavy any more. Maybe some of you, who aren’t going through this, can hold it for me for a minute, while I catch my breath.
43 Days Later
A lot has changed since writing the lines above, but rereading those broken words, laced with pain and self-doubt, I'm brought back to the place I was over a month ago. I guess I have some perspective now. I think that's what I'm supposed to say.
The way I've started describing my current situation is that I am now a part of a sisterhood I never wanted to be a part of. Very much against my will, I have been inducted into The I've-Had-A-Miscarriage Club. Our numbers are terribly high, higher than I could have known until I joined, and we all mourn with the entry of every new member.
I'll close by saying, if you have recently found yourself to be a member of this sisterhood, or if you have been a member for 20 years, I don't know if I can offer you words of comfort, but I can stand with you and be with you in spirit. I can tell you that even though our babies did not survive, we did. And we will keep surviving – together.