On the personal horizon for me this week is a day I can’t avoid.
September 25 was the day I was due to have a baby. On March 11, when I thought I was nearing the 12-week ‘safe’ mark of my pregnancy, we experienced a miscarriage, and that pregnancy– one for which we’d been trying for nearly a year as it was– was lost.
I’ve written a fair amount about it over the past six months. I’ve made no secret of the pain my family and I feel, and the difficulty we face, trying to heal in the various ways we need. It’s a strange minefield of a process, with reminders big and small, sore spots and small joys all mixed together. It’s hard to know where to step for myself, let alone advise anyone of what they could do help me or my family.
Part of me– a big part of me– had really hoped we’d have conceived again by now. Not that you can replace one pregnancy with another and make the sadness go away, but that sometimes the deep pain of what is lost can at least be mingled with the hope and celebration of new life.
Yes, but where’s the opportunity for character development in that? Sorry. Sometimes the sarcasm and cynicism just leak out of whatever box I’ve tried to seal them in.
Anyway, here comes the due date, a day I don’t want to create into a self-fulfilling-prophesied very horrible day, but also don’t want to try to ignore or avoid and not acknowledge that I hurt and it hurts and I need… well, that’s just it. I don’t know what I need.
What I’ve discovered for myself is that nothing make the pain go away (congratulations, you win the nobel prize for therapy there, Clark). And there are no happy memories to think back on, and at this point, there’s not even a whole lot of hope of being hopeful in this vein again, so now what? The only thing I’ve found that helps is knowing that people love me.
If it sounds sappy, tough. It’s me and it’s my thing, so listen or navigate away, friend. And maybe you’re reading this because you’ve experienced loss and you’re looking for something that helps, and my suggestion might help you. I hope so. Anyway, this is what helps me. After the miscarriage, people sent me all kinds of cards, notes, emails, prayers, pictures, music, flowers, a shawl, a tree, you name it. And I found that those things helped me feel less desperately sorrowful, and so I even solicited more showerings of love.
And then I didn’t want to throw them all away– looking at them was really helpful on the days it really hurt. And so I got a little kit for a scrapbook, and I saved a bunch of those things (or printouts of them or pictures of them). Making the book was itself a wonderfully healing thing, wading through cards and printing out emails and pictures and pressing flower petals and creating something aesthetically pleasing to me. It brought out an appreciation for beauty and for the act of creating. And since then, I’ve found that it’s helped to look through it. On days when it gets really bad, I open it up and look through and let the tears come if they’re going to (since they’re going to anyway).
It’s not a fail-safe thing. Sometimes I close the book crying harder than when I started, and twice I’ve thrown it across the room. But most of the time, as I look at the pictures and the notes, I remember. Yes, it was and is a rotten, awful, agonizing time. But I was and am surrounded by people who love me, who hurt when I hurt and smile when I smile, who don’t run screaming in the opposite direction rather than face a friend who feels beaten up by life. I can and have and will get through this, because people are pulling me through.
So what do I need on September 25?
I need you. I need a hug, a phone call, a smile, a flower, a card, a poem, a picture, a song. I need to be reminded that I am loved and supported by people who are not afraid of what promises to be a kind of uncomfortable conversation and are ready to reiterate that sometimes life hurts, and we get no promise it will stop or get better on any timetable even roughly approaching what we would like, but that when we hold each other up, somehow we make it through.
I need to turn the pages, let the tears come, and see the colorful, beautiful evidence that none of us faces grief– fresh or reopened– alone.