I bet you’re exhausted. You’re devastated because, in your heart, this was your baby already in every way. But you also have living children, and you know that pregnancy loss isn’t quite the same as child loss. Your grief is tangible and suffocating, but you feel like you must acknowledge all the ways it could be worse.
Miscarriage isn’t uncommon. It’s been estimated that maybe up to half of pregnancies end before we know about them. One in four women has been were you are.
So many of us understand the pain of mourning a child who never got to be. But we stop talking about it soon after it happens because we are supposed to get over it.
“At least it was early.”
As moms, we are supposed to just snap out of it because we have other kids we are supposed to “be thankful for.”
People are constantly throwing out their opinions about how long and how deeply you’re allowed to grieve this experience. Some of them are trying to help, some are just thoughtless, and some are downright hateful.
But no matter the motivation, if someone tries to explain to you how you’re allowed to feel right now, ignore them because that’s bullshit.
I had an uncomplicated miscarriage early in my marriage, went on to have two perfect boys, and then in November, I found out at 8 weeks that my fourth pregnancy was another loss. My body didn’t realize the baby was gone, so after 3 weeks of waiting, we opted for a D&C just before Christmas. Genetic testing showed that our baby was a girl.
If she had kept growing, she would have a nursery in the bigger home we purchased when we found out she was on the way. I would be teaching my two-year-old to say her name, and my five-year-old to spell it. I would be hugely pregnant, lying awake at night trying to figure out how I would manage next fall with an infant, a toddler, and a homeschooling kindergartener.
It was going to be a lot to juggle. But I wanted her. I wanted the chaos. I wanted to rise to the occasion and manage it.
I’m okay most days. I have not been destroyed by this loss in the way I thought I might be in the beginning. I’m handling it.
You’ll handle it. I promise you will.
But some days the grief just swells like a giant wave, and I am powerless to stop it from crashing down. So, I don’t fight it. I let it wash over me. I tell myself that unlike the ocean, it can’t actually drown me, even if the sobs take my breath for a minute.
Me and you, we have living children. Remember the ones whose existence is supposed to cancel out this grief?
Like you, I live in constant gratitude for my children.
I am holding a sleeping toddler as I write this. Every few seconds I keep nuzzling my nose into his little shoulder, just listening to him breathe and saying a silent prayer of thanksgiving for this baby who is here in all his two-year-old glory, so my empty womb doesn’t have to be accompanied by empty arms.
I have laid in bed next to my five-year-old countless times since we lost the last baby, just counting to 100, and listening to him talking about kinkajous and plesiosaurs and the fact that race cars can go 200 miles per hour, and I have understood and believed in those moments how very lucky I am to have him here on this earth to teach me so many things.
But my love for them didn’t start when I heard their first cries or saw their tiny faces for the first time. My love started when they were two pink lines. It began when a wave of nausea was the only indication I had that they were with me. I loved them when they were flickering gummy bears on a fuzzy ultrasound screen. I loved them from the moment I knew they were mine.
Someday, God willing, I’ll be an old lady. I may or may not have another son or daughter, but I’ll have lived a life full of laughter and gratitude. I know this because I choose it.
But I’ll also feel this sadness for the children I never got to meet.
I don’t choose that. It just is.
You don’t get choose how a miscarriage affects your heart.
Maybe you won’t feel connected to what you lost forever. You may not feel that you lost a child. That’s okay. That doesn’t say anything about you. We all process this loss differently.
But if you’re like me and the loss becomes a part of you, you don’t have to “get over it.” You can carry it if you need to. As you get stronger, it won’t feel as heavy.
And you can put it down if it is too painful to bring it along — there is no shame in letting the memories fade.
There’s no right or wrong way to lose.
You should just know that if you’re walking around feeling like something is just kind of missing, there’s a big giant sisterhood out here of women whose hearts carry babies nobody else remembers.
You’re not alone.
We’re all here together, and you’re one of us.