served me well

I've had this post sitting in the back of my brain for over a week.  As soon as I'd sit down to type it out, I'd get a warm flushed feeling and be too embarrassed to finish.

* * *

I found out I was pregnant not long after this past Thanksgiving.  Terry and I were thrilled, albeit shocked.  We've spent 16 years adhering to an autonomous lifestyle, freely embracing the things that are "simply out of our control".  So far, this has worked with only a few bumps in the road along the way.  However, the thing about people like us is, we only have two modes of operation: laissez faire or shock.  And it's rare that we connect the dots in between.  

"Oh yeah.  I guess it was sort of in our control all along."

The weeks following the home test results were a little quieter than usual, but in a good way.  He and I would catch each other in the midsts of far away thoughts, imagining what life would be like with an 11 year old, a 9 year old, and a baby.  We would throw each other excited glances as we remembered the (sometimes forgotten from hour to hour) news, the secret that would become hard to keep in a house of big kids.  We would lay in bed at night and ask each other questions that were familiar, but from days long ago... 

"Is this really happening?  How'd this happen?  I mean, I know how it happened, but why now?  When should we tell our folks?  Oh my goodness, what are they going to think?  Terry.  A BABY!", followed by quiet squeals.  These almost-decade-old feelings rushed back in an instance, but with one big exception.  I never feared miscarriage with either of my previous pregnancies, even after my close-call placenta previa episode with Fiona.  This time, I feared miscarriage the moment the 2 lines appeared.  I chalked the fear up to being older, having experienced more second-hand stories from friends over the years, and the inevitable emotional protection that often comes in the form of pessimism.

The news came at the craziest time- in the midst of a move.  Although people like us seem to always be declaring the craziness of timing or reminding others of Murphy's Law, this seemed almost funny.  And just at the point when I was waist-high in cardboard boxes, school registration papers, and holiday preparations, morning sickness struck.  And how.  It hit harder than I remembered it with my previous two pregnancies, but, once again, I chalked it up to being older.  (Or maybe this is what it feels like to carry a boy!?)

Somewhat concerned by how terrible I felt (coupled with other telltale signs of miscarriage), I had an emergency ultrasound at 7.5 weeks.  More guarded than ever, I prepared myself for whatever they were going to say.  In fact, I was so prepared, I didn't feel much when she told me the baby was fine.  I was relieved, but I didn't cry when she pointed to the strong heartbeat.  I left the office saying to Terry with careful casualty, "Wow, I guess this is really happening."

It's hard to explain to your 8 & 10 year old that "everything is fine" as they hear echoes of gag reflexes from behind bathroom doors in an empty house.  Two to five times a day.  At some point, it felt cruel not to tell them that mommies barf to make babies, and that is just what I'm doing.  Their reactions were almost as good as those of the grandparents (but that's a post for another day).  Fiona began jumping up and down, hands over her mouth, followed by a one-two air punch.  She couldn't have been more excited.  Neve, on the other hand, was unusually quiet as I told her the news.  Slowly she mustered a smile, turned around, walked into my bedroom, laid facedown on my bed and sobbed.  

Shocked by her reaction I asked, "Nevie, are you crying because you're happy or sad?"

With big wet eyes and shrugged shoulders she honestly said, "I don't know.  I guess it's just kinda creepy."

"What's creepy?"

"You having a person growing inside of you."

And she's right.  It is kinda creepy, come to think of it.  But as the days and weeks passed, the creepiness turned normal turned joyful.  In no time, Neve shared Fiona's excitement and began hatching plans for names, toys, room decorations, and even making schedules for help with nighttime feedings.  (Yeah riiiiight.)  

We survived the move.  We survived weeks upon weeks of fast food.  We survived the holidays.  In between naps, unpacking, violent barfing, and an aversion to every holiday smell or the sight of another drinking eggnog, I enjoyed visiting family and the fact that I managed to pull off another year of beliefs in Santa.  I let myself gain a little excitement with every day that I got closer to my upcoming 12 week ultrasound.  

By week 10.5, I was properly stoked.  Most of my immediate family knew, I'd told a handful of close friends, the house was 90% unpacked, and I'd allowed myself to create an online account on a pregnancy tracker website.  When Terry had left for work and the kids were off to school, I'd open the laptop and secretly expose myself to the world of better baby things.  I was amazed by how far maternity clothes had come!  Pink and blue was so 2003, but (according to pinterest) the modern baby lived in a world of whites, neutrals, and high contrasts!  Today's nurseries are nothing like that of Wendy Moira Angela Darling, but now bear an uncanny resemblance to the reception area of a graphic design firm.  Who knew!  It was exciting to think of all the ways I was going to do this one differently.  

"Terry, I'm gonna do right by this baby.  You'll see.  Now let's go to Knoll to buy it some furniture.  2014 office-themed nursery, here we come!"

The girls had no school on account of a snowless Snow Day the morning of the ultrasound, so I brought them along.  Terry had a meeting at work, and I assured him it was fine to skip this appointment.  I brought my camera to the doctor so that I could photograph the girls holding the ultrasound photo for the last week's photo of the 'you are my wild' project.  It really was the first time since I found out I was pregnant that I truly let my guard down.  It was the first time in weeks that I thought I was safe.  

I had no idea that my doctor would not be able to find the heartbeat, no idea that the girls would be within earshot of the news, and no idea what to do with myself.  Even "people like us" weren't prepared for this shock.

* * *


2013 has been so hard on so many of my friends.  Job loss, illness, divorce, and death of loved ones can make miscarriage feel quite sufferable by comparison.  But it still requires some grief.  The amount of friends who've confessed to their own stories of miscarriage and still births has made me stop in my tracks.  It's humbling, inspiring, and really sad to learn of all the hurt that happens around us without our knowing.  When I texted a friend asking if it was normal to feel dumb after the fact (I think I meant embarrassed more accurately), she assured me that in her experience it was normal to feel that, along with a bunch of other mixed emotions.  Hormones and disappointment aside, she guessed that it was probably also due in part to how our culture handles the issue.  

I've thought a lot about what she meant by that since my D & C two weeks ago (a procedure you'd think was terrifying according to Google, which it was not).  I began piecing the accounts of friends with my own embarrassment and mixed feelings.  I've come to the conclusion that it is a taboo topic to many.  For all the information that exists out there about how to properly be pregnant, or how to properly be a mother, there's not a lot that addresses how to properly feel after the loss of a pregnancy (save for some message boards).  And women everywhere keep it all locked up, because what else?  I'm inclined to think that's why I hesitated writing this in the first place.  

I realize that folks choose to grieve differently; some grieve vocally, some alone, and some a little bit of both.  I didn't write this with the intention of it being a PSA.  And I was so worried that if I wrote this people would feel awkward or inclined to be sympathetic.  I've already had sufficient closure, and I'm completely at peace with it all.  We are all fine.  The girls are already back to making farting noises with their armpits (and finding it hilarious), Terry is already planning a small summer vacation for us, and I'm happily writing this over a glass of wine in pants sans elastic waistband.  

The second half of her text wound up being the most comforting bit of advice I received:

"Someone told me when we lost our pregnancy that some day it would serve me well.  I don't really know what she meant, unless she meant that I can help/understand/be there for my sister ladies when they need me.  It's the thing that made me feel better.  So maybe this will serve you well one day too?"

I hope so.  Love to my sister ladies.

14 comments:

rachel said...

i'm a new reader, and I felt so compelled to comment, even though I do not know what to say, beyond: I'm so sorry.

"hi, i'm ginnybranch stelling and i love love." said...

that last part... the text from the friend...
i am so sorry dera, and i know you can deflect everything with your unstoppable sense of humor... but i am truly sorry. love you.

kelsey said...

love to you, lady. xoxo

Posy Quarterman said...

So much love to you, sister lady. Thank you for sharing, truly. xo

Kathy said...

I love your writing. I am so sorry this happened to you. I have had 3 miscarriages and yes, the emotions are crazy and they're all "normal"......whatever that is.

Shoe said...

I've been reading for a while now and I have always enjoyed your honesty, the glimpse into your lives and the beautiful stories you tell.

I'm so sorry this happened and even though we are relative strangers, you and your family are in my thoughts.

Roseann Bath said...

This is heartbreaking and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the loss you and your family have suffered.

amelia (ztastylife) said...

of course you know I am terribly sorry for all this...
I can't stop to think how incredible you are, at the way to see life. You can take even the hardest moment and turn it into such a human reflection with even a smile to lift us, your readers, up... when we should be be the ones to do that for you.
You never stop to amaze me. Please never stop sharing and writing. The world needs you.

Anonymous said...

Dera. I'm so sorry ) :
Nobody tells a story from life the way you do. Even a story like this.
All my love to you!! // Emma Khalil

leah // sangthebird said...

dera, your honesty and way with words are beautiful gifts. i am sorry for your loss... those words sound lame, even as i write them, but i am truly sorry.
i am also happy that you are talking openly about a socially taboo subject. i have had 2 miscarriages; my first required a d&c, i didn't have any idea of what to expect and was petrified (2002, no computer and no idea information was available on the web). thankyou for shining light on this sad, sensitive issue...

Much love xxx

Victoria Vereneyah said...

thank you so much for sharing this with us .
you are such a wonderful woman ...

these words help me to get through troubled times:
'that's how you stay alive . when it hurts so much you can't breathe , that's how you survive.'

sending much love your way ...

gladis ia_mia said...

Dera, I wish I was able to write my feelings now and thoughts as you do.... ! I' m giving you a truly sincere hug sister lady.....I'm sure you can feel it....

Laura Seymour said...

xoxoxo

The Stork and The Beanstalk said...

I love your heart, Dera. It will serve you, and others, very well. I'm really glad you shared; I know a lot of my own friends that can relate and - you're right - there's just not enough out there for other women to feel less alone or able to sift through their own emotions. I commend you for sharing. And armpit noises are not to be underrated. Enjoy your glass of wine.