I had a miscarriage last month. It was early, around six weeks, and resolved itself naturally. It was a two-week emotional rollercoaster – telling our parents and a few close friends that I was pregnant and then in a matter of days finding out that the hormone levels had plateaued and the fetus didn’t seem to be developing. A little scare when some tests indicated that it might have been an ectopic pregnancy, and then a huge relief a day later when my doctor calmed our fears and my body started to pass the pregnancy.
Two weeks later, and I’m so at peace with it that I find myself worrying I’m in denial.
It’s just… okay. It’s not a tragedy – it never felt like one to me. I felt like we lost a pregnancy – not a baby. Maybe because it was so early, or because we never even saw the heartbeat – there probably never was one. Or maybe because we have a beautiful toddler running around, full of life and joy and silliness, and to be honest even if we never have another kid it will still be okay.
As well as looking at my life, I’ve constantly been thinking of the strong, resilient women around me who have gone through so much tougher challenges in their childbearing journeys. And honestly, each and every one of their situations seems so much harder than mine. So I’m mindful that a big part of the reason this miscarriage didn’t knock me flying was that really – it just could have been so much worse.
There’s something about statistics that kept running around my head, too – we’ve all heard the numbers about how common miscarriages are, especially at this early stage. One in four or five according to most sources. There’s something very grounding about the realization that I’m just as normal as everyone else – just as susceptible to the forces of nature.
Of course, there were big emotions – don’t get me wrong. I was beside myself for an entire day, an uncontrollable sobbing mess. Just when I thought I had my shit together a new wave of grief would rush over me and I’d be down for another hour. Thick, heavy sadness. Plain and simple.
And there was a bunch of fear, too. Fear of what would happen to me physically, fear of how nervous I’ll feel if/when I get pregnant again. And a mix of fear and sadness for some sort of lost innocence, a chipping away of my formerly formidable trust in my body. My husband helped me out on that one actually, gently correcting me when I’d expressed a fear of what would happen to my body – instead urging me to think about it as something my body would do. So spot on. From that moment I was oddly looking forward to the bleeding, to get that reassurance that my body was sorting it out, completing the process of terminating a pregnancy that wasn’t working for whatever reason.
The next day I was a mess for about half the day, and then only a couple of hours the day after that. And then the beginning of the week rocked up and I went back to work, figuring that worst case scenario I could jump in a cab and come home if I started feeling uncomfortable – physically or emotionally. And indeed there was a weird sensation about being at the office – like, why am I having benign conversations around the water cooler while I’m in the middle of a miscarriage? But it still felt like the right move.
Because what was the alternative? Sitting at home and dragging out the drama, holding onto painful emotions, making myself feel bad when for the most part I felt fine? When the sadness crept back in I felt it, respected it, and just let it pass – and it always did. Happiness always settled back in – along with anger and annoyance and all those other everyday feelings, of course.
So eventually I had a few days of bleeding with mild contraction-like cramps – not much more than a heavy period, really – and it was done. I had a couple of tests, got the all clear, and I feel good now. Inside and out. Liberated, somehow. Like I got through something massive and waddayaknow – I came out the other side okay, and maybe even a little wiser for it. As is often the case, the fear turned out to be so much worse than the reality.
I hope I can keep this calm, level feeling with me into another pregnancy in the near future, as an antidote to the anxieties that inevitably accompany the fertility and conception process. To keep in mind that even if something does go wrong, I – we – can handle it. Mindfully, honestly, and with as much ice cream as necessary.