Wednesday self-picture. “Hump day” is a phrase I usually avoid because it’s dumb and the word “selfie” is dumb too. I woke Asa up from his dumb nap while trying to clean and it’s thrown our whole day off. Dumb. On a positive note, life is beautiful. #mamaneedsanap #mamadrama #enjoytheprocess #itsoktobeunhappy #butitsbettertobehappy #timeforcoffee #thanksforlistening #instatherapy #humpdayselfie
It’s what’s for dinner! Tamarind glazed salmon (tamarind, ketchup, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, green onions, brown sugar, sriracha) with ginger & lime bok choy (garlic, grated ginger, lime zest, dash of soy sauce, squeeze of honey and sriracha) and green onion and white pepper rice. I’m so glad Keys likes everything and chowed this down like a champ, I prefer cooking for more than just one.
It’s been two years since I had a miscarriage. Over that time I’ve thought a lot about putting into words the pain and experience of losing an unborn baby. How do you sort of sum up the death of non-life? How do you mourn the loss of something you never had?
For me personally, I felt like my miscarriage was like a dark secret I was harboring. Like it was a dirty word I wasn’t allowed to use in civilized society. Partly, that was my own sadness and inability to articulate the whole experience. I still feel like I have a hard time organizing my thoughts on the subject. Part of it is just not wanting to discuss it, feeling like it’s supposed to be a secret or something that should be kept to myself. And I think a large part of it is that it’s not something people are comfortable with discussing.
Often, there is no medical explanation to give, which leaves people (me, for sure) confused and comfortless. It’s often hard to talk about too because a lot of people never even knew you were pregnant. We only told close friends, some family and a few of my husband’s coworkers for logistical reasons. A lot of the suffering is in quiet. The people who do know are put in an awkward position. It’s confusing—do you bring it up, do you sympathize, do you just sort of give apologetic looks and an extra helping hand? I don’t know the answer, but I got mostly the latter. It wasn’t enough. Many people who knew never said a word about it again. I’m definitely not angry or upset or hurt at them for that, I think it’s typical. Maybe they thought I felt like I “failed” and didn’t want to remind me of that. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Maybe they felt it was too personal to just throw out there. “Oh, sorry, you had a baby in you and that baby died while it was in you.” When I put it that way, it’s dark. It’s very dark and uncomfortable. That’s what miscarriage feels like.
But in a way, I think too, it’s an unqualified loss. In a way it’s a half-loss, or at least that’s the way it’s often looked at. I didn’t have a baby. I had an idea of a baby. I had a seed of a baby. I had a dream of a baby. It’s the dream that I lost—the dream of that baby’s future, the dream of that baby’s name and personality and cries and smiles and first steps. I was 11 weeks when I miscarried. I was packing up to meet my husband on tour in the Pacific Northwest. I was conjuring images of taking baby-announcement photos in adorably touristy locations like the market in Seattle or the Golden Gate Bridge. Even those innocent dreams we’re painful to let go. I had not only the loss of the dream but the deep-seated dread that something was wrong with my body, and that I’d never see that dream realized.
From the few women I’ve talked to who also miscarried, the fear is common. I felt like my body turned on me. I worried I’d never be able to have another baby. We already had Keaton, who was three, and for that I was so grateful and felt miserable for the women who didn’t have one to hold tighter. Yet in another way, I felt the sting of knowing exactly what I lost. The fear was unfounded in my case, and I got pregnant again four months later. Now, we have Asa, who didn’t come without pregnancy drama (a month early after a placental abruption and two weeks in the NICU), which leaves me wondering still about the inner-workings of my woman parts (yes, that’s the medical terminology). Still, he came and I couldn’t imagine life without him.
Perhaps there are unknown reasons for what happened—that my body was just doing what it was supposed to do. There was likely something wrong with the pregnancy that may have resulted in some larger catastrophe. Or maybe not. Maybe it just happened and there’s no explanation. After a couple years I have no explanation. I just have an experience, a painful and lonely and confusing experience, that I felt like it was time to articulate. Miscarriage rates are unbelievably high, my doctor said statistics say 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage but that in reality it’s more like 1 in 4 pregnancies, since many women never report them or perhaps don’t even realize they had one. For whatever reasons there are to keep miscarriages quiet and personal and swelling inside, I feel like there are as many reasons to bring the experiences to the light of day. They can be uncomfortable to discuss and confusing to categorize emotionally, but being as they are so common among women, they might be easier to maneuver and overcome with more support and understanding. Though I haven’t learned much about why it happens and specifically why it happened to me, I have learned one thing: Miscarriage is not a dirty word.