This post was written one month ago, just hours after miscarriage.
I have three young kids: a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 9-month old baby girl. It’s great when they get along, but the two older boys bicker constantly. It saps all of my energy to keep them from killing each other. And to add an adorable baby who has vastly different needs on top of the responsibility of keeping my children alive, it’s more than I can handle on most days.
If you ask anyone who knows me, I bet they’d tell you I handle it with grace and poise, but they don’t see my emotional exhaustion it causes behind closed doors. I am barely keeping my head above water staying home with three kids and keeping the house semi-clean. I can’t handle a fourth baby.
I’ve had three births without any drop of pain medication and had three healthy babies. But I had a very clear and surreal moment during labor with my third baby: “I am NEVER doing this again,” I said. And I meant it.
I’m in the process of selling all our baby gear and maternity clothes, and random baby/kid clothes that no one fits into. Everyone warns me that as soon as I get rid of all the baby stuff, I’ll get pregnant again. But I adamantly tell them I won’t, I CAN’T have another baby. Labor, delivery, newborns, breastfeeding, tongue-ties, scary growth complications, allergies… I can’t do all of that again. I feel like we’re finally on the other side of that, like we’re finally ahead of the game and doing well with all of that crazy baby stuff. I can’t start over again.
And then I got pregnant.
I didn’t have to take a test, I knew. I track and I follow all my signs and symptoms and cervical positions, so I knew before I got that faint positive. Knowing a post for Military Moms Blog was due soon, I decided to do an anecdotal experiment on the best pregnancy tests. After dipping, capping, and lining up five different pregnancy tests, there they were: two little lines, on two different tests. I rejoiced, knowing I proved my intuition right, and then I started processing.
My emotions varied between terrified to joyfully excited and everywhere in between. But even in the “Holy sh!! what am I going to do with another baby?!?” moments, my mama bear instinct was there, praying protection over this new life in me.
But as the experiment continued, those positive lines didn’t get darker, they got lighter and lighter, until this morning when they had all disappeared completely, and I started bleeding. So, I am sitting here asking myself, “Did I make it all up? Was I even pregnant to begin with? Was it all in my head??” But a pink line is a pink line. A positive result is a positive result. I was pregnant, but now I am not.
I am surprised at how sorrowful I feel.
And then I think, “Who Am I”? I have dear friends who very much wanted a baby and lost them at 20 weeks and even 38 weeks gestation. So, who am I to sit here and be sad about a baby I didn’t want in the first place and lost at six weeks?
But it was LIFE.
Getting pregnant may not have been what I wanted, but as soon as I saw those two little pink lines, my maternal instinct kicked in, and I knew I would move mountains and jump through fire to protect that little one. I started organizing our life changes in my mind: Where would this baby sleep? How should our fall travel plans change? How would it impact our upcoming PCS to have a 6-month-old baby?
One evening I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an update that my friends, who have been pouring their hearts and money into adopting a baby, were rejected by the birth mother. My friend wrote a raw, honest post about how crushed and defeated she felt. The next day I was talking to my neighbor who is desperately trying to conceive and has been for years. She mentioned that if this next round of IVF before deployment doesn’t work, it’s the end of the road for their 5 year-long, tear-soaked journey to get pregnant.
I began to weep. I felt so guilty. Who am I to get pregnant when these women deserve a baby, want a baby so much more?
I was terrified to tell my friends.
Not just out of guilt, but also out of judgement. Here I was with a 9-month-old baby, and I was vocally adamant about NEVER getting pregnant again. After her birth, I was done putting my body through that, and I wanted to selfishly lose my postpartum weight and know I would never have to do it again. So, what would people think? Even worse, what would people say to other people when I wasn’t around?
“Did you hear that Susie is pregnant, AGAIN? You’d think they’d know how to use a condom…” (Which we do by the way. And guess what?? They’re not 100 percent reliable.)
I was so terrified of a complete stranger’s judgement that I couldn’t go to the store with my 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 9-month-old to buy pregnancy tests. Heck, I couldn’t even just go by myself in the light of day. No, I snuck out of the house at 3 a.m. and went to Walmart and bought all the pregnancy tests I would need through the apocalypse and proceeded directly to the self-checkout.
And as I sit here writing this, I still haven’t told my husband. He wasn’t even sure he wanted a third baby, let alone a fourth. He struggles dealing with even just two of our kids at a time. How would he react? I had time to mostly come to terms with the idea of another baby before I even took that first test. Because, as women, we know our body. I knew I was pregnant. And I knew my husband needed more proof than that. My plan was to show him how the tests got darker over the course of two or three days. But instead of getting darker, the lines got more faint. And then today there were no positive lines at all.
But why am I crying?
Why am I crying over a baby I didn’t want anyway? My logical brain is telling me that this is for the best. I can barely handle my three kids as it is, so it’s best not to have a fourth. My logical brain is telling me that if my body couldn’t hold onto those growing, beautiful cells, then there was an insurmountable, biological flaw. So this is all for the best, right?
But my heart doesn’t feel like this is a good thing. My heart feels heavy and downcast. Technically, this is called a chemical pregnancy, a type of miscarriage. But that sounds so cold and harsh.
It was a baby I will never hold, a smile I will never see, a laugh I will never hear.
And my sadness is complicated by guilt, “How could I not want that?”
As I’ve been processing these emotions this morning, I feel almost silly. There are so many women who desperately try for a baby and victoriously get two pink lines, and then are crushed by miscarriage. So, who am I to stand among your ranks? I may not have wanted the theoretical idea of another baby, but the moment that idea became reality my heart changed.
That baby was wanted, and loved, and now is gone.
And this mama’s heart feels grief for the loss of what was and what could have been.
One Month Later…
A month has passed since I wrote these words. I told my husband later that day, and he held me as I cried. I reached out to a mentor and then to a friend and poured my heart out to them both. Although they could not understand personally, they tried their best to grieve with me.
However, all three of them, in an attempt to comfort me, told me this was for the best, and reminded me that I didn’t want another baby. I know they meant well, but their words hurt. How could anyone think losing a baby, no matter the circumstance, was a good thing? I see now that I misinterpreted their words. They were at a loss of what to say, and were all trying to help me feel hope.
And a lot of women after miscarriage or infant loss (and even failed adoptions) hear these same things: “At least you have other kids,” “At least he’s not hurting anymore,” “She wouldn’t have been able to lead a full life,” etc…
And while the people who say these things mean well, it takes away the validity of our feelings. These comments imply there is no reason to feel sad, there is no need to grieve.
But mama, hear me when I say, that no matter when or how you lost your baby, you need to grieve. You need to let your raw and honest emotions see the light of day, no matter how messy or scary they may be. And if you hear anything like the comments above, it only means you need to find different people who have walked this journey, who will understand, and who will help you grieve.
Everyone grieves differently. For me it was writing this post. For you, maybe it’s art or music or dance or talking or all of the above. But whatever you do, please promise me that you won’t keep silent. An important part of the grieving process is having another person validate our feelings, which means listening to us and holding us and allowing us to feel and vocalize ANY emotion that crosses our heart.
And I want to hear your heart. If you don’t mind sharing your story, please comment below with your journey through miscarriage, infant loss, failed adoption, etc. I want to help you grieve your baby.
There isn’t a lot of hope in loss, but I find hope in the prospect that we can help each other heal.
If you need help finding someone to grieve with, here is a list of nationwide resources for pregnancy and infant loss, and I highly recommend you call Military OneSource from anywhere in the world for free counseling sessions with a provider in your area or via video chat.
If you are a concerned friend who wants advice on how to walk through loss, this is a great article with practical tips on what to do and what not to do.
This writer of this post asked for the post to be anonymous.