Three and a half years ago I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks gestation after my first frozen IVF transfer. The loss was devastating and rocked my world but, true to form, I soldiered on. Several months later after my second failed frozen transfer it became clear I had not actually healed. I started medication and therapy, I had a private and very spiritual walk to remember where I set my baby free and then I declared myself fixed. Done. Ready to move on.
Yesterday was Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness Day. My Facebook feed was peppered with fellow infertiles sharing their story and spreading awareness. I took a moment to read each one and send love and light their way and then I went about my day. Sabine and I hiked, we ran errands, we had lunch and I went to therapy. Therapy started much as it always does with discussion of current stressful topics – mainly the Professor’s job hunt. Then the conversation veered of the nice comfy track of “other people’s problems” and I found myself sobbing over the miscarriage, our infertility journey and the sadness of not giving Sabine a sibling.
After what seemed like an eternity of struggling to breathe and wiping tears before they ran down my nose and wetted the still healing skin graft (which can’t get wet) I looked at my therapist and said, “What the fuck. I’m supposed to be over this. I mean, the miscarriage was only at 7 weeks and I’ve long since gotten over not having other children. I even wrote about both on my blog!”
Because, you know, once you publicly state something on your blog it is as good as law. Right? Evidently not.
My therapist drew a long breath and said, “First, this is not a comparison of whose loss is greater. Just because you lost a baby at seven weeks does not make it any less devastating than someone who delivered a still baby.”
I started to protest this statement as I know many women who have lost babies far later than I and the experience tore them apart and continues to haunt them. I did not hold my dead or dying baby, therefore I do not deserve to still be so sad. This, I realized, is not true. In the same way that all deaths are unique – and that is what a miscarriage is: a death – they are also similar. Every single woman who has mourned the loss of a child, no matter how old that child was, has felt the same suffocating sense of loss. A loss of life. A loss of hope. A loss of story. A loss.
My loss is just as valid as the next.
I asked my therapist when it will stop hurting. When will I stop feeling sadness over my lost child and over the loss of having more? “Never,” she said. This one word, never, is so soul crushing right now and goes against every cell in my body. In my family you toughen up and move on. You repress and forget. You don’t revisit this kind of shit and “re-feel.” This, she said, is not healthy. It’s ok to feel sad about these things from time to time and it is ok to reflect. It’s not ok to let them run my life, but to occasionally sit back and feel for a loss is good. It’s natural. So today, one day late, I’m taking time to write this and to feel sad for my loss.
I miss the tiny baby I named Pip. I am so sad he or she will never share pretend snacks and blanket capes with Sabine and I. I am sad I’ll never see his or her story unfold. I’m sad I’ll never know pregnancy again, and sad that I’ll never say those amazing words to Sabine, “Meet your baby sister/brother.” And when I’m done feeling sad I am going to make every attempt to not box these emotions back up and hide them away, or to downplay them as less than they are. I want to set them on my metaphorical shelf as they are a chapter in my life story. These losses together with my triumphs are what make me, me. And me is a pretty rad person. Me who does not suppress emotion would be even more rad.