Fears lurk behind corners—the monsters under the bed that come to torment. I thought I was doing well. I may have even had an entire day without tears . . . or at least without many. And then yesterday, it all fell apart. I have no idea if there was a trigger. I know I’ve been binge-watching a TV show that features a woman who is a surrogate, pregnant with a baby boy. I did have a jolting moment when the show displayed an ultrasound with the swooshing sounds of a beating heart. But that was days ago. I imagine there is no real cause for this new wave of grief and guilt.
Last night I wondered if I was crossing through into post-partum depression—not sure if giving birth and having an empty uterus is a requirement. It is hard to tell where grief ends and where depression begins. As I think through what I learned in pastoral care, I still have time before I need to be worrying about depression. I sometimes have to remind myself that it has only been a week and a half since we learned of Avelyn’s death. In many ways it feels like a lifetime ago.
I feel broken. In mind, spirit, and body—perhaps most in body. The fear that lurks behind corners are about me. Fears that I will continue breaking the statistics. Women who have experienced one miscarriage have an 85 percent chance of a healthy pregnancy to follow. But we’ve already broken so many statistics. We got pregnant in our first month of trying (only a 20 percent chance of that). We lost our first baby (only a 15 percent chance of that). And then the Misoprostol did not work to bring about a miscarriage (I have no numbers, but only indications that it works for “most” women).
I fear being here again. I fear that if this happens again that I won’t have the strength to try again. I fear that my body is going to keep playing this silly game of chicken where I will have hope that this miscarriage will happen soon, only to have a day without much cramping and what feels like backwards steps. I fear that if I have a procedure done, that I’ll never feel real closure. I fear that I may not be able to handle a natural miscarriage. I fear that I will always view my body as a broken thing.
When I engage my brain, I get that these fears aren’t based on good arguments. But who has ever needed good arguments for fears? I get that a person does not simply stay on one side of the statistics board because they happened to be there a few times in a row. I also get that some women do continue to have miscarriages without identifiable reason. Why should I assume that I’m not one of them? I find it funny that when talking about birth, others want to make sure you are prepared for the possibility (also low statistically) that things will go wrong and require emergency intervention, but after miscarriage, everyone wants to quickly assure you that you will be pregnant with a healthy baby within the year. The truth is that none of us knows.
In this dark pit, thoughts of other babies seem shallow. I don’t want other babies, I still just want my December girl. Some suggest that there is no real healing from a miscarriage until you are pregnant with another child—but another child will never replace this one. It isn’t fair to either of them. It isn’t fair to me or to Allyn.
And besides, none of the promises in the world can make me feel less broken now. While I admit to having self-image issues, I’ve always at least felt that my body was my own. In pregnancy, I began to view its changing shape as beautiful, because it meant that my body was bringing about life. Those same changes make me cringe now. They seem only to signify death. Have I mentioned that the linea nigra has appeared over the last few days? The line that appears on the abdomens of 75 percent of pregnant women. One could say that this is an example of a statistic where I fall into the majority, except that I’m only technically pregnant. This line showed up three weeks after my baby died. I’m lucky in that it is currently fairly light, only a few shades darker than my skin tone. But there it is, all the same.
Author’s note: This is the eighth post in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.