Trigger warning: miscarriage
I don’t know how I missed it; the signs were there. I was irritable and emotional. Anxious and moody, and I was on edge.
The symptoms were there; my back was sore. My belly was bloated. My breasts were tender. Everything pointed to the obvious: I was pregnant.
My body was preparing to carry a child.
But I didn’t acknowledge it until it was too late. Until I passed a golf ball-sized clot in our toilet.
The clot wasn’t just big, it was bright. In fact, I’ll never forget that particular shade of red — somewhere between fire engine and crimson. It was thick. It was tissuey. The consistency was somewhere between slime and Silly Putty. And it slipped out of me with an alarming amount of ease, and blood.
With what felt like gallons and gallons of blood.
But then it stopped. The pain, the cramping, the bleeding: it all stopped and, within hours, the physical remnants of my reality — of my miscarriage — were gone.
They or “it” was flushed down the toilet.
But the pain lingers. It clings to me like a statically charged balloon. I am on edge, and while I am functioning — while I am able to move through my days at a “normal” pace — I am not good.
I am okay. But, I’m not well.
Of course, it’s hard to explain what it feels like to lose a pregnancy. My body feels strange; I feel like a coin purse with no change. Like a cup whose contents have been spilled. There is a tangible void in my body. In me. And that emptiness has been the hardest.
I have spent the last week consuming more food and beer than I ever imagined — eating and drinking to fill the space that once was. To fill the space that, just days ago, was nourished and healthy and “full.”
Emotionally, I have been all over the map.
I have cried for the life that cannot be, and will not be. I have mourned the loss of second motherhood and sisterhood, of the playmate my daughter will not have. Of the “big sister bond” she will never share with this baby. I have raged against myself and body, punishing it for betraying me — and failing me.
I have blamed myself: I am a distance runner, one who went on run hours before said miscarriage, and I worry that was the cause. I ran too far and too fast. The repetitive motion jostled me. Did it cause my body to purge the baby from my system?
I have celebrated the loss because now isn’t a good time to be pregnant. I know, in my heart of hearts, now wasn’t the “right time” to be pregnant. And I have felt guilty for feeling good — for feeling okay — because who the hell feels that way when they lose a pregnancy?
Who smiles in the face of tragedy? Who laughs in the face of a such a personal catastrophe?
I cannot look myself in the eye. I cannot stand the sight of my stomach. I cannot look into a window, a mirror, or any other reflective surface, and some nights I am haunted by the image of an empty womb. An ultrasound full of blackness but no “bean.”
And all this at just six or seven weeks.
I could not have been more than six or seven weeks.
Make no mistake: I know early miscarriages are common. I know twenty percent of all pregnancies end like mine, suddenly and silently. Without pomp, circumstance, or celebration. And logically I know my miscarriage was not my fault. It was unpreventable. But that doesn’t make me feel any better. It doesn’t make processing it any easier, and a loss is a loss.
I will grieve the “should of’s” and “could have been’s” for some time.
But I also know that the days will get easier — with each hour that passes, life becomes lighter and my mind becomes clearer — and, eventually, the heaviness will lift.
The pain will pass, but today is not that day because today, I hurt. Today, I cry. Today, I feel pain. I live it. I breathe it, and I sit with it and I do so so that tomorrow I may not.
So that tomorrow better things will come.