This post has been a long time coming. It's been sitting in my unpublished drafts in some form since June, because I'm scared silly by how personal it is. But there are three things that helped me recover from my miscarriage: time, my closest support team (Waldi & my mom) and hearing the stories of others who had suffered something similar. When we lost our first baby, I too felt lost- disoriented by the fact that we don't really have a ritual in our culture to mark the passing of babies through miscarriage. Writing down my story has been so healing for me- it has given me a way to mark the passing of our first little one. I don't know how many people will read this, but if it encourages even one mama in a similar situation then it's worth it.
As I write this, my baby is roughly the size of a papaya, healthy and happily floating around somewhere inside of me. And though I’m so grateful for this pregnancy, so thankful to finally be here, I must admit that my journey towards motherhood and to this moment has not looked the way I expected it to.
I took my first positive pregnancy test last April. For two years prior to that, I had carried with me the overwhelming wish to become a mother. Though I had known my whole life that I wanted to have children, in those last two years that desire took on a life of it's own. It was so fierce it hurt.
I spent those years in a country far from home, wrestling that mother-desire with patience and congratulating my friends and family on the many babies they had been busy making. I was that one childless married woman at baby showers, mothers gathered around talking about pregnancy and childbirth, someone inevitably turning to me at some point to ask what it was I did. What was it that I did? I was biding my time.
So. That positive pregnancy test felt to me like the end of a long journey to the beginning of something beautiful. We'd finally made it, thank you, and we were so excited to be there.
If you're doing your math, it isn’t hard to see where this is going.
It happened somewhere between ten and twelve weeks. The heartbeat was there- I’d seen it, but then it wasn’t. We spent the night in emergency and when we left the next morning the clump of cells we had thought was our baby had been sucked out of me, the bottom of our world sucked out from under us along with it. We stood alone on the curb and called a cab to take us home.
Of course, everyone told us not to worry. It’s not your fault. You can try again soon. And though I loved them for saying it, it was hard advice to take. Because lying there, bleeding out the remains of my first baby, I can tell you that a second pregnancy was the last thing on my mind. And regardless of where the fault lay, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel somewhat ashamed.
It’s only after you suffer a miscarriage yourself that you realize how many women are walking around with those same battle scars. Many suffer quietly because it’s not polite baby shower talk, but that pain is very real. Ask any woman who has had a miscarriage how old her baby would be now and there’s a good chance she’ll know.
My baby would have been two and a half months old.
Eventually in time, we decided to try again, and were very thankful when I peed on that second positive test, just six months after the first. But here’s the thing about pregnancy after miscarriage that no one warned me about: everything is different.
The memory of my first pregnancy is marked by an overwhelmingly innocent joy. After those years of longing and dreaming, I threw myself into it with arms wide open. I am currently 26 weeks with my second baby and I still wake up many mornings afraid I’ll find blood. I am terrified of bad news every time we visit the doctor, even while I hold on to those appointments like some kind of desperate lifeline. And it's basically impossible for us to talk about this second pregnancy without speaking of the first.
Sometimes when I mention it, people tell me not to think too much about that first baby. I know they mean well and mostly I try to follow their advice. I sing to this new baby, write it letters. I fell in love with it the moment I knew it was there. But I cannot rewrite that first loss. No matter that my heart has expanded to love this second baby, just as my body is expanding to bring it into this world. The miscarriage is a part of me now and I will carry it with me as I continue on this journey towards motherhood.
Because, like I said, my road toward motherhood has not looked the way I expected it to. And though I don’t know your story, don’t know the journey you’ve been on to make it to where you stand today, I’m sure at times it wasn’t easy. Because really, when do things go exactly as we expect them to? I sometimes look at other mothers- the ones with no morning sickness, multiple healthy babies and shiny happy Instagram accounts and think about how great life must be for them. But the truth is that there are probably sharp corners and dark places on their journeys that I know nothing about. And somebody else out there may be thinking something similar about me.
This thing we call motherhood is so much bigger than any one story and there are so many different roads that lead towards it. We, as mothers, are connected by the love for a child- whether unborn, stillborn, newborn or all grown up. And isn’t that where motherhood exists? Between the overwhelming beauty and, at times, deep pain of this love? Today, I hold onto the hope that there is room within it for my story- room for every story that begins with mother love. I don’t get to choose my road to motherhood. All I can do is walk it free of shame and with my head held high because it’s the road I’ve been given. And mama, please know that however painful or unexpected your journey has been, there is space for you to do the same.