Miscarriage and Motherhood

The month of May is an emotional roller coaster for me.  I do get to celebrate Tristan’s third birthday (!) in a couple weeks and there’s Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is difficult.

I am so incredibly lucky to be a mother to two beautiful children as well as a daughter to both a wonderful mother and equally wonderful mother-in-law.

My journey into motherhood wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Four years ago now, on Mother’s Day, we learned we were expecting our very first baby.  We were so giddy! We had just moved into our first house two months prior and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I was floating in happiness over the next few weeks.

Professionally, I had never been sure of what I wanted to do, but I have always been sure that I wanted to be a mom.  This pregnancy was confirmation of my life’s purpose.

***

That happiness came to a crashing halt a few weeks later, the Friday before Father’s Day.  That morning, the baby I had seen on the ultrasound monitor just two weeks prior with a beautiful beating heart was now lifeless and still.

The miscarriage itself happened early the next morning.  The bleeding gave way to cramps and then intense pain as my lifeless baby emerged from my body.  There was no joy when it was complete.  My body and my heart were completely shattered.

***

The next weeks passed in a haze of tears shed in a private, silent grief and forced normalcy.  “Fake it until you make it” became my motto for getting through the day. We had shared our pregnancy news with so few people that there was hardly anybody to know or understand our loss.  I was embarrassed at my happiness of just days before when the thought of my baby continually popped into my thoughts like the little bubbles in champagne, filling my head with a buzz that nothing else had achieved.

I marked time by the number of days, and then months, and now years since we had lost our baby.

***

We tried again, as soon as we could.  I was afraid if we didn’t, I would lose my nerve and never want to try for a baby of our own.

Three months after we learned of our loss, we had another positive pregnancy test.

Relief. Joy. Sheer terror.  They all flooded me at once.

I was fortunate enough to not experience a lot of nausea or morning sickness with that pregnancy, but I was plagued by fear.

I mourned the fact that the innocent joy of carrying another life had been taken from me.  I knew the possibilities all too well.

I was able to relax a bit once I passed the ten-week mark when we lost our first.  More tension left once we made it to the second trimester, but the fear never fully departed.

Thank God, I gave birth to a healthy and whole baby boy the following May.

***

One of the biggest challenges of miscarriage is wondering what life would be like if the pregnancy had gone full term.  Had our first baby been born, she would’ve turned 3 in January, and I never would’ve had Tristan.  It’s difficult to not wonder and think on life as it could’ve been without seeming dissatisfied with the blessings given us in the wake of our loss.

***

Last year, just before Mother’s Day, three years to the day that I learned about our first baby, I had another positive pregnancy test.  Talk about a trip.

The estimated due date was within days of our first baby’s expected arrival.

I spent the early weeks of the pregnancy fighting fear and grief in between the bouts of nausea.  I had to work to think positively about this pregnancy and its outcome.  As it progressed to the second trimester, I was able to release a sigh of relief.

As peaceful and gentle as Rose’s entry earth-side was, it is bitter-sweet in my mind.  I might’ve had another child turning 3 that day.

***

I think about our first baby often.  She is still so much a part of me.  Occasionally, the grief still hits me. When the idea for this post first came to me in the shower mere days ago, I cried. Hard.

Other times, I realize my loss has helped me to reach out and support others experiencing something similar.  There are a few women I have grown especially close to through the loss of our babies.

When this article on NPR popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed this morning, I knew I needed to share my story.  Miscarriage is far more common than many people realize.

To those experiencing this unfortunate loss: don’t feel ashamed or like you need to grieve silently in the shadows.  There is support for you.

To those unsure how to respond to parents after a miscarriage: a hug, a shoulder to cry on and listening ears go a long way.  Sometimes there are no words.

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