I introduced my children to a favorite childhood movie of mine, “The NeverEnding Story.” It was less scary than I remembered and more of a rant against ever encroaching technology and the loss of imagination for kids (ahead of its time, I can now see) than I remembered. But of all the parts that had faded from my memory, this one was still firmly there:
As I watched it with my kids in my lap and all around me on the couch, I felt this sense of identification. Why does this feel so familiar? Why do I feel like I’ve had these feelings before. And that’s when it hit me– THIS is what it feels like to have a miscarriage.
I remember looking at my body during those days after our ectopic pregnancies and just marveling at how healthy it looked. It was a good, strong body. Because it had seemed so good and strong and healthy, I had never spent a minute worrying about what would happen if we could actually get pregnant. Getting pregnant was difficult, but I just KNEW if we could get pregnant, my body would know what to do.
But there I sat. Staring at this good, strong body in frustration and discouragement. It couldn’t save my babies. It couldn’t keep them growing in the right place. For all the mystery that surrounds most miscarriages, mine were entirely too knowable. These babies implanted in a place that left them no room to grow. My body failed them. I failed them.
I remember thinking I wanted to get a big black Sharpie and just color the skin all over my stomach. I wanted to see the blackness there. I wanted to physically represent how empty and ugly that body felt to me. I hated to see it mocking me with its youth and beauty and healthy appearance. What was the point of taking good care of this body if it was just going to fail me? Why had I ever cared about being considered feminine and lovely if the whole point of femininity was denied to me? When people said things like, “At least you can be grateful your body won’t get messed up by pregnancy.” it felt like a knife. This perfectly preserved body was a joke to me. A cruel joke.
I have felt the despair of that Rock Biter, just waiting for The Nothing to take me away. As frighting as it sounds, I didn’t want to feel anymore. I didn’t want to feel guilty and sad and alone. For a woman who is always doing SOMETHING, I was scared by how much I wished I could just experience nothingness so I could get away from the overwhelming feelings.
If you are still in that moment, sitting on the ground, starring at your body and grieving what it can’t do, it’s okay. Those are valid feelings and you need to feel them. If you want to get that Sharpie out, go for it. Get some counseling. Talk to other women who have been there. Find healthy(ish) ways to cope (I like Netflix and nachos, but we all have our own comfort rituals). You do NOT have to rush through the grief to try and find a silver lining. Maybe someday this will all make sense and maybe it never will. You don’t have to push yourself to try and put a happy face on it or to have all the answers. Take a minute and be that Rock Biter, acknowledging that while your body seemed like a good, strong body, it couldn’t protect the life you loved so deeply. That is something worth being sad about.
But don’t let The Nothing take you. I can’t promise you time will heal this, but there will be easier days. You will laugh at something and not feel that gnawing guilt in your gut for being happy. The sunshine will come back. You will never forget the baby you lost, but you will find a reason to smile again. Nothing replaces the hope of that child. Nothing can instantly take away the pain. But life does go on and you become a different version of yourself for having experienced that loss. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone else, but you know how it has given you more empathy, more compassion, more appreciation for your gifts.