“It must be winter in my heart / There's nothing warm in there at all / I miss the summer and the spring / The floating yellow leaves of fall... / The air in there is frigid cold / I don't know what the reasons are / Calendar says August one / But it's still winter in my heart.” - The Avett Brothers
This may be the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write. It's the blog I never wanted to write. I struggled with whether or not to share this publically, but I realized I couldn’t keep living my life pretending that this didn’t happen. I am who I am because of the experiences I’ve lived through, and this part of my story is still affecting me to this very day and I anticipate for years to come. When you read this I just ask that you respect what I’m saying as my personal experience. I’m not trying to speak for anyone else, just myself. So here goes – big gulp!
After eight years of trying to conceive...
Laparoscopic surgery to treat Endometriosis…
One frozen embryo transfer…
We were finally pregnant…
But on July 23, 2012, I began the process of losing my first unborn child.
Love in the flesh… gone.
In just the span of 20 days, I experienced both the most joyful moment in my life along with the most heartbreaking experience in my life.
Imagine you are starving for years, and then just when you are finally about to taste food, it is ripped away from your mouth and flushed down the drain. That’s what miscarrying after infertility is like.
It was a pregnancy and then it was a miscarriage. Those were the only terms I would use for months.
When I first told my sister about my pregnancy, she told me she was so happy for us that she was crying, and then she said "you are a mother now."
It wasn’t until quite recently that I finally realized what she said was true, but not until after having several panic attacks, and discussing the pain I’ve been holding on to with my therapist. Yes, I was a mother, but there was another aspect I had never allowed myself to admit to… I was a mother who lost an unborn child.
“Be glad you weren’t that far along…” people say.
They don’t understand. Whether someone miscarries at 6.5 weeks or 6.5 months, it’s still a loss.
From the moment I decided I wanted to be a mother, I’ve held this love for my future child - a child I have yet to meet - in my heart. It has affected every fiber of my being. Almost every decision I’ve made over the past few years has been with the future of my child-yet-to-be in mind.
The moment the nurse said I was pregnant, when I peed on the stick and finally saw two lines, when I felt early pregnancy exhaustion and food aversions… I was a mother.
We wrote up a list of names.
We began planning where to move furniture to make room for a nursery.
We began discussing plans for maternity leave and financial matters.
We bought books.
“Geek Dad,” that was the name of the book my husband bought after asking me if it was too early to buy a book. I told him it wasn’t. It had a list of fun games a dad could play with his kids… Now it sits collecting dust on our bookshelf.
I lost the dream I have been physically and emotionally fighting for over the past few years. All this work put in - the surgery, pills, shots, hormones, blood work, intrusive sonograms, acupuncture, and sedation – and I had nothing to show for it besides a broken heart.
Heartbreak doesn’t go away after a week off from work. It doesn’t disappear when the physical symptoms subside. It’s not cured when you are finally able to go a few weeks without crying at the site of a pregnant woman, or beautiful infant in the grocery store.
Why am I writing this? Why am I putting myself out there, in public, for all to see?
Because I know I am not alone. There may be someone reading this who has struggled with infertility, someone who has lost a child, whether born or still in the womb. A mother’s grief over losing a child is never diminished by the stage of development or age of their child.
There’s so much on my heart, I don’t know how to verbalize it all! Part of me wants to stop writing this, delete the entire post, and go back to being anonymous. But my heart is telling me this too important not to share. I know I am not alone in any of this, and I cannot get the support and encouragement I need until I open up, am transparent, and share my story with others. Also, others can’t get the support and encouragement they need unless they know that they are not alone!
I know exactly what it feels like to want to curl up in a ball and never talk to anyone again, because talking means reliving the experience. But it’s important to be heard, to communicate to others in similar situations, especially with those who share common grief.
My grief has manifested itself in many ways, before I even recognized that it was grief:
• Sadness at the sight of babies and children, especially those of family and friends
• Distancing myself from people with children
• Bitterness at people who complain about how hard it is to have children, if they only knew what I would give to be in their position to have what they’ve been blessed with
• Attempts to fill my life with “busy work” to only find it doesn’t fill the hole in my heart
• Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (anxiety attacks) stemming from my fertility treatments and miscarriage
• Bouts of depression
• Desire to be super healthy so I can feel “normal” again, then contrasted by desire to binge on junk food so I can feed my pain
• Decreased desire for intimacy (yes, I really wrote that – now I’m really being transparent!)
I’m done ignoring what happened. I’m done stuffing all my feelings inside. I’m ready to recognize my pain and suffering, and allow myself to mourn.
For the longest time I would say I wasn’t angry with God. I know this isn’t God’s fault. But the truth is, I am angry. At times I am angry with God because the only other person I want to blame is myself, but that’s a disastrous slippery slope to depression and a hole that would be almost impossible to escape. Blaming God helps me get by. It keeps me afloat, but I know it’s a crutch.
No one knows why most women miscarry. There’s no point in speculating, it only causes more unnecessary grief. I certainly don’t believe in the cliché idea that everything happens for a reason. However, I do believe that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
What's remains of the hope I still have comes from my faith in God. I have hope that there will be a better tomorrow. It doesn’t necessarily mean I will get pregnant again, or even become a mother through other means. It doesn’t mean the heartache from this loss will go away completely. But I have a hope in a God who loves me, a God who weeps with me, and is always there to comfort me. My hope especially comes from the strength He’s already provided me through everything I’ve gone through, the procedures and surgeries, the physical and emotional turmoil. I’ve been able to prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever thought was possible, especially with God and my husband by my side. I could never have dealt with any of this on my own!
I also want to recognize the reality that my husband suffers from our loss as well, but in his own way. We don’t discuss this often, but I recognize his right to his own grief. Our mourning processes may look different, but both are valid and, I would argue, even necessary to move on to the next phase in our life together.
He has been my rock, holding my hand during procedures, encouraging me to keep pushing on, telling me I was strong when I felt like a bag of sand, doing his best to make me feel loved, and constantly trying to bring my spirits up when it’s obvious I’m sliding backwards. He has allowed me the space to process this loss before we make a decision on what to do next, and for that I am beyond grateful! I don’t know what that time frame for moving on looks like, or what that will entail exactly, but I know my hope is returning, slowly but surely.
The proof of my hope is that I’m still dreaming of my future child, my love in the flesh.
Thank you for reading, and thank God I have another therapy appointment tomorrow to work through what writing this post has made me feel.
I encourage comments... Have you suffered from infertility? Have you suffered a miscarriage or loss of a child? How has telling your story helped during your grieving process?