It’s nice to be an expert on some things. You know: say, knitting, or computers, or what colors look best on you, or car maintenance. I don’t consider myself to be an expert on much, but there’s one thing I’ve learned a lot about in the last year, to the point where I feel like it’s something about which I have some degree of wisdom. I wish I didn’t, but sometimes I do think of myself an expert on what to do when you have a miscarriage.
I know! I said I wish I didn’t. There have been several times in my life where I have acknowledged that Terrible Situation X has granted me more wisdom, but that wisdom often comes at too steep a price. Sometimes I’d much rather still be dumb and shallow.
Before we move on, here’s a gratuitous picture of Buddington:
There. Anyway: I had two miscarriages in the last year. This is my third pregnancy. It’s not a surprise to anyone reading this blog; since starting this new one about my new life, I haven’t kept it a secret. But it’s not something I talked about openly before just last month. And to be honest, it was never really a secret; it was just … something I didn’t want out in the open.
A blogger I really like recently announced that she’s expecting, and in a follow-up post she talked about why she and her husband had decided to go public with their news while she was in her first trimester. (This is more a story for another day, but people gleefully going public with pregnancy news before they were in the second trimester [and let’s be honest; even then] was something that made me FURIOUS until just this past summer.) Anyway, in her post she talks about how one reason women often don’t share the news early is because of the fear of having to “un-tell” (which I’ve had to do and do not recommend, in general). This is a VERY VALID CONCERN. She then explains that one reason women don’t like to talk about miscarriage is because “our society often makes them feel ashamed – like they did something wrong”.
I don’t doubt that this has been some women’s experience, but my desire to stay quiet about my losses had nothing to do with our society making me feel ashamed about what had happened. I do admit that after my second miscarriage, I struggled with feeling inadequate – like pregnancy was just one more thing on a long list of things I just couldn’t get right. I knew those feelings were irrational, so I worked them out with a counselor. My general, overall feeling about my losses, though, was that it just plain wasn’t any of your business.
After my second miscarriage, I initially said that I wanted to write about it. I wanted to be open about it. But the days passed and I never did.
It wasn’t because I felt any sense of shame about what had happened. It wasn’t because I felt like I had done something wrong or that I felt guilty for miscarrying. I just had absolutely no desire to open up my wounded, crushed, destroyed heart to everyone around me – especially when the issue was something as deep and central to our hearts as the desire and longing for a child and the grief over losing him or her. Steve and I were in a small group at the time, and we stopped attending after the loss. My friend, who hosted the group, lamented that we stopped coming, saying that she wished we wouldn’t close ourselves off from support. We did feel supported, though. We felt very supported. I just wasn’t interested in opening up my grief to strangers. It’s a sad truth, but not everyone is going to get it. Not everyone is going to see that this loss has changed everything about you and your life, and they will react as though you have just told them your car broke down. And yeah – I think it can be a hard thing to get. But not everyone’s going to have the ability to do so, and therefore by default not everyone in the world had the right to enter into my very profound grief.
Besides that, I was (understandably) a complete basket case. It took me a month to want to get off the couch, and at least five months before I could start going to the gym on the nights I knew the prenatal classes were happening. And I felt a certain irrational sense of resentment at the expectation that I “should” be open about my experiences and let the whole world into my heart. I don’t know if I can explain this last point, but it was VERY present. My miscarriages, and my grief and pain and rage and resentment were just none of your business and that’s all there was to it. It wasn’t personal. I wasn’t because I didn’t like you. It wasn’t you; it was me. I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t feel like having to spell it out for people. (As an aside, I have to say I don’t think I was prepared for how angry my losses would make me. I don’t think I saw that coming, but it was definitely the “symptom” that stuck with me the longest.)
So why am I talking about it now? Well, for one thing, a lot of time has passed. My second miscarriage was in January (specifically the 17th, my 31st birthday, if you want to talk about what an awesome year I’m having) and it’s now November. I’ve had a lot of time to work through my grief, anger and despair in those months. I’ve also had time to let my life be about more than just my grief*. I can talk about my losses now with a bit less hysterical emotion, and instead of wanting to shove insensitive morons into walls, I have much more patience to just explain what my losses meant. That’s not to say I don’t still have the desire to drop-kick the pinheads who think a miscarriage is akin to a bad breakup, but I do have more patience. Heh.
I also got tired of the assumption that losing my mom was the first really terrible thing that had ever happened to me. It wasn’t. It was, in fact, the third really terrible thing that had happened within ten months. In fact, at that point I was really good at being in crisis mode, and I think that actually helped me get through the last weeks of her life and the first month of adjusting to life without her. And finally, a season of loss changes a person, and I am a very different person than I was 14 months ago. I eventually wanted to start to address that fact, and talk about the ways in which I’m different and how my grief has changed me.
About that last point: I don’t yet know all the ways in which I’m different now; I am still far too close to this season to be able to elaborate on how it’s changed me. But it has – a lot. It’s changed a lot of things.
Let’s wrap this up. Here’s a gratuitous picture of Teaker:
I’m glad we had this talk.
*Literally for a week. A WEEK. Between finding out my thyroid was back to normal** and getting the news that my mom’s cancer was terminal. ONE WEEK.
** Long story condensed into a short sentence: my second miscarriage was likely caused by a rare thyroid condition.