There are things that are difficult to write about.
This one took me more than a year; but I thought it was time to call out grief and face up to it. (And perhaps another mother out there needs it, too.)
There were two.
The first one I grieved; the second I kept secret. And I’ve borne every thought, every feeling and every experience I’ve had of it discreetly. Because no one wants to talk about the babies who don’t make it or the moms who failed to carry through.
It’s about that time when I could have been celebrating a birth day. And I still feel that hallow, gaping hole inside me. I remember the doctor at the ultrasound clinic to whom I had asked,“What happens after?” and he callously replied, “Oh, there are a few options, just as there are many ways to skin a cat.”
Who can forget the untold question, relentless inside your head,“Why didn’t I deserve that gift of a soul from heaven?”, “Why given and then taken back?” and “What did I do in between?”
No one tells you there will still be days when your body will think you are pregnant and so you have to endure the craving, the nausea and still feel the fatigue. Except that there’s no miracle to behold, and all you’re merely waiting for is death.
On top of that, there’s the stark contrast between what you go through inside and how the world just goes on outside. You wonder whether your feelings are wrong. Something is amiss. Because “It happens all the time.” One out of three pregnancies end in a miscarriage (as though you being a statistic should make it less painful). Or that, “It’s just as well, there was a reason and you will see it in time.”
Because, “That wasn’t a baby yet anyway.” And be glad, “you now have an angel in heaven.”
And thus, you persist with the heart-wrenching pain bottled up inside. There’s no mourning. No three days when people come to talk about loss over coffee or tiny sandwiches. You don’t get flowers or mass cards. And there’s never a funeral to hold. Instead, there’s the day you’re talking loads of iron and folic, and not drinking red wine, and then the next day, when everything’s as it was. You’re just sort of sick in bed.
And you’re going to recover.
It’s not just among those who don’t know any better. It’s the same secret among us, the one out of three who have failed to carry through. A great deal of us are mourning in secret. Trying to put on a brave face when we shouldn’t.
We should cry, fall apart, stay in bed for days and slowly learn to live again, because in the days after, it hurts just to even breathe. We should welcome flowers, hugs and the comfort of friends who ask us out for coffee to talk about it. And we should have that funeral. Light a candle, sob through a prayer, write a letter laden with tears and make up an absurd ceremony of having flowers float in the toilet bowl.
I sometimes feel as though I have to forget it, too. Dismiss it as a blip in my life, the miracle was there and it was gone. Nothing biggie about it. Pretend I lost nothing. But I had weeks or months of waking up exuberant wondering about the child inside, looking up names, craving for gooey chocolate cake, taking long naps and daydreaming. Even stopped drinking coffee or wine in spite of tormenting headaches and parties.
We need everyone, ourselves included, to recognize there was a soul that came fleetingly into our lives but had to leave again.
It’s not normal, even when it happens once in three. The grief swallows you whole. And it’s perfectly fine not to be ok.
Have moments of sad, when you see a new baby born or a year after when you could be celebrating a birth day. We need the world to appreciate the blip that was life and see the death.
And we need to see it too.
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Assistant Editor: Brian Bruce Casteel Logan/Ed: Bryonie Wise