Grief Right Now

My womb is so empty.

I ended up still needing a D&C. For days after miscarrying, I continued to cramp and pass large golf ball sized clots. The baby was gone, yes, but there was a buildup of blood they said could lead to infection. So I went in for surgery last week and had my womb scraped clean.

I’ve never been in an operating room like that before and I admittedly got pretty scared. But then I woke up in another room, no memory of anything at all, just waking to the knowledge that all remnants of that pregnancy were in a trashcan somewhere. Before the procedure, I had to fill out a piece of paper where I designated what I wanted to be done with the “pregnancy tissue.” I knew I had already fished my baby out of the toilet, so it didn’t really apply to me, but it made me sad for all the others who have to fill out that same form.

The surgeon was kind enough but he was very old, and like the very old tend to do, he went on and on about how in “his day” there were never this many miscarriages and he wondered aloud why now there were so many. “Did you have the vaccine?” He asked, musing. I wanted to tell him to shut up, that this wasn’t the time and place, but that isn’t the thing to say to someone who is about to put a scalpel inside of you.

I left the hospital a few hours later, a fat bruise forming on my hand from the IV, blood in my underwear, and my heart with a sense of finality. It was finally, finally over.

***

How do you move on from something like this?

I was pregnant for 12 weeks and now I’m just not.

Life goes on. Life goes back to normal. Rob is at work. I’m still running the house, folding laundry and cooking dinner, taking care of two little boys. I pick up the stray dinosaur and put it away. I clean up spilled milk.

Except I feel irrevocably different. I feel changed.

How do you move on from something like this?

I guess you don’t? It becomes a part of you, absorbs into you. You do move on, in a sense, but you will never be the same.

***

Little Rant.

I dislike that people so often feel they have to keep pregnancy a secret until 12 weeks. I wish that this was not the norm in our society.

Why? Why, in 2022, is pregnancy so often kept a secret through the first trimester? Miscarriage.

That makes me sad.

It perpetuates the shame and stigma of miscarriage. It perpetuates the idea that miscarriage isn’t something to be grieved, something to be shared with others, something to be honored and valued and seen.

So many women suffer in silence. That’s sad.

End Rant.

***

This has brought back memories of our first loss, four years ago.

That miscarriage devastated me, threw me back into a deep depression. I was so alone in it, isolated and misunderstood.

When people asked me how far along I was, I hated saying “8 weeks.” I hated saying it, because it didn’t seem far enough along to warrant the extreme physical pain that I had gone through nor the deep, deep grief I was very much drowning under.

I wish I could go back in time and hug that version of myself, and tell her that her pain was valid.

And there was another loss, when we lost George’s twin. I didn’t feel allowed to be sad, because first of all, I didn’t want twins, and secondly because I still was pregnant, so I buried it. It resurfaced over and over but I pushed it down, telling myself I was being silly. I wish I could hug that version of myself too.

My sister stopped by a few days ago to give me a gift. An ornament for the Christmas tree. On the ornament are three names: Willow, Rowan, and Isla. The three babies I miscarried—two of which I rarely mention by name, never speak of.  Seeing Isla’s name means a lot to me, but seeing the other two names? It is the first time that I feel like they are being acknowledged, recognized. It made me weep to receive such a gift and now it is one of my most precious items.

Willow. After miscarrying, I had a dream that the baby had been a girl, and that her name was Willow.

Rowan. A few months after finding out, Rob and I decided to give the lost twin a name. We don’t know for sure if Rowan was a boy or a girl. Would he or she have looked like George?

And Isla, the baby I carried the longest of the three, the one I probably felt most connected to. I miss her even though I never got to meet her.

Those names still matter, because those babies mattered so, so much to me. They existed. They deserve to be remembered by name.

***

There is, of course, hope for another.

It’s a scary hope, isn’t it? Because I could miscarry again. It’s possible.

I know now more than ever that there is no sure thing in life. I am a type-A, perfectionistic planner with a high sense of urgency, but this miscarriage forced me to my knees. Forced the control right out of my hands. I’ve been so humbled to realize that everything can change in a moment whether we want it to or not. I know that we can make all the plans we want, but it is only an illusion of control. I am utterly powerless.

And yet.

There is hope.

***

Grief does seem to come in waves, as they say.

One minute I’m totally fine and the next I just want to scream, “My baby is dead! How can I go on?!” And then I’m fine again.

My sister, freshly acquainted with her own story of grief, gave me a book called Grace like Scarlet: Grieving with Loss after Miscarriage and Loss by Adriel Booker. I am still reading it, moving through it slowly and savoring each chapter. I am so thankful to my sister for this resource, because it is truly helping me grieve.

It’s helping me figure out where my faith fits into all of this.

I prayed against miscarriage every day of those 12 weeks of pregnancy. I prayed for Isla’s safety and development every. single. day. And still, she’s gone. My prayers were not answered the way I wanted. How can I not help but wonder at God: Why?

Like everyone, I’ve been through my fair share of hardship in life. You don’t end up in a psych ward two different times without going through some level of hardship. All of that to say—I’ve questioned God before. My faith has been shattered and pieced back together. I’ve learned that sometimes there are no “whys”.

I don’t find my faith shattered right now. Not really. I have doubts and questions and no answers but I do find myself holding onto faith.

Booker says,

“What is faith, then, if  not a certainty of beliefs or the absence of doubt? Faith, in the Christian context, is covenant with Jesus. Faith says that I commit myself to him even while not knowing every exhaustive why or how or when of who he is and how he operates. Faith is a gift we are given and a gift we give, both.

“How can we be certain that the whole thing isn’t a sham? We can’t. Not entirely. But faith says yes anyway. Faith makes a covenant to fall forward into trust, believing that God has given us every reason to hope in his goodness, starting with what he’s already done for us.

“Faith is all the stuff we’re uncertain about but put our hope in anyway, because we believe God is who says he is.”

I like her descriptions of faith. In the midst of my sadness I can say, yeah, right, that’s where I’m at. I feel like I have a choice in front of me: Will I allow this unthinkable hardship to help me grow in faith, to find peace and comfort in Christ? Or will I turn away and grieve alone? I’m not saying that makes the grief any easier or takes the sadness away. I’m saying that there’s an opportunity for beauty in the heart of pain.  

Booker also talks a lot about the concept of God grieving with us. That’s something I’ve been holding onto too—the idea that God is grieved by this miscarriage, that he is saddened by Isla’s death, that he weeps because I weep. That brings me great comfort.

As difficult as this miscarriage has been and still is, I hear God beckoning me to Him. I feel Him nudging me closer, holding me, whispering to me to trust Him.

It’s hard, but I think I’m tentatively whispering back, “Okay.”

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