Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Individual Grief of Miscarriage

October 15 is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, as proclaimed by -- I'm not sure really; I don't know who has jurisdiction to just proclaim a day and make it so. Simcha Fisher has written a lovely reflection on grieving a miscarriage and seeking physical reminders of a loss that leaves barely any physical remains.

I want to write about a different way to grieve, because there is no one right way.

I had a miscarriage at about 12 weeks, over the Triduum of 2005, a few months before we started this blog. I don't remember the dates without looking it up, but I discovered I was bleeding on Good Friday, at church. A friend took my almost 3yo and my 18mo home for the night, and all night long I bled and feared.

All day Saturday I bled and grieved, a process made more complicated by Darwin being so miserably sick that I had to drive him to the urgent care. I sat in the office and rocked myself in labor pains and cried into tissues while the doctor proclaimed that he had a double ear infection and bronchitis. She looked at my pile of tissues with trepidation. "I'm not contagious," I moaned. "I'm having a miscarriage."

"Okay?" she said, and backed out of the room without fulfilling my fantasy of prescribing me industrial-strength painkillers.

Darwin was barely conscious, so I had to drive him to the pharmacy to pick up his prescriptions. Focusing on the road was a nightmare of concentration and pain. Every stop light was a misery of waiting. When we got to the store, he had to go in, sick as he was, because I couldn't stand up without blood dripping down my leg. And while I was sitting there crying, the phone rang -- the lab confirming that I had indeed lost my baby.

Then I realized that the pain was subsiding, had stopped, and I stopped crying, and the grief died with the pain.

On Easter morning we went to mass alone, as the girls were still in the care in friends, and when we came home I passed the baby, painlessly, silently. We were able to open the sac and see and hold the perfect tiny body. Fingers, toes, little bottom, little nose, and a huge blue eye. We buried it under the rose bush in the back yard.

Friends told me to name the baby. Friends told me that I would be sad for a while, that I might cry at random times. I did none of those things. God knows the child's name, and one day so will I. Six weeks later I got pregnant with my daughter (now a beautiful, disciplined, ferociously effective 13yo) and I did not grieve my miscarriage any more. The next time, and the last time, I cried about it was a few years later, as I sat with a friend who'd just had her own miscarriage, and my grief was more for her than for myself.

It's not that I never think about Baby. I have, in the pocket of my bathrobe, a plastic model of a twelve-week fetus. It's a bit larger than my child, but it's very accurate to the little baby I held, except that some child has chewed up the plastic toes. Whenever I walk down the hall to the shower, I hold the baby in my pocket and remember, and pray for my child and all babies just beginning life in the womb. Sometimes the kids get out the plastic baby and talk about it. And I feel no pang.

It's okay to mourn a miscarriage for a long time. And it's okay not to mourn a miscarriage for a long time. There's no correct way to grieve, and no one should tell you how to feel. Every loss is individual. Baby's brief existence is a joy to me, unalloyed by grief, and there's nothing wrong with that. That doesn't make me a cold, hard person. It simply is what it is. I have my memories of a tiny body, and an immense blue eye looking up at me, and they are good and sweet.


Antoinette said...

Thank you for writing this. The last paragraph is very true especially the It is simply what it is.

Banshee said...

Hugs. Emotions are one of those things that are what they are. If God spared you grief afterwards, when you had been mourning before, I think He had His reasons and so did your heart.