I've been absent from the blogging world. I apologize. Life is moving at blazing speed and I'm over here just trying to keep up. It's not that I've had a lack of things to talk about, because Lord knows I could go on and on about our trips to Disney World, Avery's sassy attitude that's rearing its ugly head, sleep issues, my home decor journey, or even random junk that pops in my brain. It's just that have had no time to even think about blogging.
I thought it might be appropriate to come back to blogging on a very important date in my life. The date that changed me.
A year ago today, I was sitting in my gynecologist's office, staring at an ultrasound screen, praying that the tech would find something. I looked through the grey, black and white fuzziness, willing a heartbeat to show up. Instead, I looked at an empty sac. The same empty sac that sat beside another empty sac a week before, that Marty and I were told could be our twins. The same empty sacs that we were told could be a myriad of things. We were told those two yoke sacs could be twins. One yoke sac was perfectly round, and the other being irregular and misshapen. I was told to prepare myself for a variety of options. Twins, one being healthy, the other one could miscarry. Twins, one being healthy, one having possible birth defects when it was born. One baby and one mass of tissue. Or, the final option that I didn't even want to consider, no babies. Since I was very early in my pregnancy, we still weren't able to see any heartbeats. I left that appointment, head spinning. Twins. One baby. No babies. Birth defects. Miscarrying. I didn't even know where to begin my prayers. Over the course of a week, from one appointment to the next, I found myself just repeating the words "Please let me see heartbeats."
But the next week, a year ago today, we came back. Only to be greeted with one, little white circle on the ultrasound screen, not two, and still no heartbeat. I sat in confusion, not knowing what I was looking at. Did this mean that the second, abnormal circle was a fluke? Was it just the mass of tissue they talked about and we were looking at one baby? But at this point, surely by this point, we should be seeing something in the ways of a heartbeat. The ultrasound tech didn't say much, just told us that she was going to get my gynecologist to get his opinion. He looked quickly at the screen and told us that he was going to take it to the other doctors in the practice and see what they thought and we could wait for him in a regular room. By this point, my mind is racing. I knew, deep down, something was wrong. In fact, before any of this had happened--before the doctor visits, before the ultrasounds, before we knew anything, other than the fact that I had taken a test and the words "Pregnant" had shown up--I had the feeling that something was wrong. I had absolutely no evidence to support that, it was just a gut feeling I had that something wasn't right with this pregnancy. So, here I was, sitting in a sterile room, waiting for confirmation of that gut feeling. And it came.
A blighted ovum. The technical definition: "when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop." In layman's terms, I got pregnant, but nothing ever developed. No baby. I eventually miscarried almost a month later, which was a messy story involving the E.R. and tons of blood loss.
So, here I am. A year later. It's been a difficult year. Every day, I struggle with my place in grieving and feeling a sense of loss. Yes, I was pregnant and yes, I miscarried. Yes, I am pro-life and believe that life begins at conception. In my case though, I never had a baby. It's not like I had a fetus develop and the baby's heart stopped beating. It's not like I even had a fetus develop who never had a heart. I had no fetus. No baby. Most days, I feel guilty for grieving a baby. Heartbreakingly, I had so many of you reach out to me when I told you all about my situation. So many of you that told me your stories of miscarriage and loss. As someone who technically didn't have a baby to lose, I feel guilty. These ladies have a true sense of losing their child. I can't say that. I feel like a fraud in my grief. Should I be grieving a fertilized egg? The pregnancy itself? The potential for what my life could have been if things had gone the "right way?" Who am I to say that I can count myself one of them in my grief, when I truly feel like I can't?
It's a daily struggle. Some days are great. I think about what may have been, with a sense of peace and knowing that I am on the path I'm supposed to be on. Some days, I cry for no reason. Pregnancy announcements still get to me. I can't help but feel jealous. I've stopped talking about a second child as if it's a guaranteed thing. I used to say "when we have another child." Now, I catch myself saying "if we have another." Don't get me wrong, I desperately want another child. Avery is incredible. She is my number one priority in life and loving her is unlike any feeling I've ever experienced. I am fulfilled being Avery's mom. But it was never the plan to make her an only child. The past year has just hardened my optimism a little. I have stopped planning what a year may look like because I did that in the past and look where I am now. I never dreamt a miscarriage would be part of my story, but there it is.
A year later, I'm scarred, more sad and empty and a little less hopeful, but I'm here. I survived that chapter and I've turned a page. I still have an amazing husband. Our miscarriage wasn't easy on our marriage. Extreme amounts of stress on both our ends and my depression and emotional state didn't make for many sunny days, but we're better. The miscarriage is part of our marital story too. We're still together and stronger because of it. It would have been easy in those days for Marty to leave me. To tell me that he'd had enough and to not be able to understand why I didn't want to get out of bed some days or why our house was a disaster because I couldn't summon the energy to even wipe a counter down. But he didn't. He may have been frustrated and unable to understand what I was going through, but at the end of the day, he was still there. If we can make it through losing his mom and a miscarriage in the span of less than a year, I truly believe Marty and I can make it through anything we face together.
I still have Avery. I'm still blessed every day to wake up as Avery's mom. To be able to go to her room, smooth down her sweat-soaked, sleep-tossed hair and know that I have a child that needs me. Avery brings joy and laughter to any situation. She's constantly asking me for a brother or a sister (primarily, I think, because she reasons that she can ride in one of the double seat carts at Target because there will be two kids in the family). How do you explain to a toddler that you don't know if you'll ever be able to do that for her? You don't. You accept that she's still little and innocent, so you kiss her head and tell her "Someday, I hope!"
I don't tell you all this so you can feel sorry for me. I've had enough of that. I tell you this in case one of you is going through the same thing. Everything you're feeling is normal...but not, all at the same time. Fighting with your husband, wanting to hide under your blanket and never come out, feeling guilty for grieving? I've been there. I'm no expert, but if you need to talk to someone, I'm here. I know how helpful it was to reach out to other women who knew how I was feeling. I don't know why, but miscarriage in our society is still such a taboo subject. Why? When it's estimated that 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage? I'm not saying that to scare you either. That's still a very low percentage when you consider all the pregnancies worldwide. But why do we act like a woman that has miscarried is an anomaly? That we should be avoided because you can "catch" what happened to us? That it's okay to talk about it when it happens to you, but then you need to just "get over it?" That you shouldn't really be grieving because it wasn't a "real" baby yet. All rubbish.
If you are or have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, I'm talking to you right now, sweet sister. You didn't do this. You couldn't help that your body decided to do this to you, not taking into account how you felt about the baby you were carrying. This isn't your fault. If I were there, I would hug you, because Lord knows, you'd need one right about now. Don't push your husband away. I know you're feeling like you're alone, but over there? That's your husband--a father that just lost his baby too. This process won't be easy on the two of you. I think that's normal. Hold onto each other and love each other through the stormy days. Grieve. However you feel necessary. If that's talking about your baby nonstop, do it. Yes, people will shy away from you because death is uncomfortable and messy, but please don't hold it against them. They don't know what this feels like. Nor do we ever want them to. They just don't know what its like to look at an ultrasound screen and see anything less than a perfect baby. They don't know what it's like to sit around and wait for your body to miscarry your baby. Don't fault them. They just haven't been in our shoes. I know what you feel like. It's like we're in a secret club that none of us ever wanted to join in the first place....but here we are. We carry a badge of loss and we have that embedded deep in our hearts, but we're stronger because of it. One day, you'll meet your baby again and be able to give him or her the kisses you couldn't here on Earth. And the angels will rejoice. Grieve and miss them, and take as much time as you need, but don't let it keep you from missing out on the life that's happening around you. I know you want to hide and pretend like it isn't happening, but that doesn't stop the world from spinning around. There's still so much joy to find. Carry your grief, but don't forget to live too.
A year later and my miscarriage has changed the way I view things. It's changed me. But it hasn't changed everything about me. I'm still here, I'm still a wife and a mother, and I'm still blessed.