My most recent miscarriage ( 5th in total) was in November 2016. I walked into the Ultrasound room on 11/14/16 for my 9 week ultrasound completely confident that this was going to work out as I had made it farther than others, yet at the peak of any anxiety I have ever felt as only 1 of my 6 children so far had been born alive. As I walked over to lay down on the table, tears were just pouring from my eyes, I couldn’t control them. I didn’t feel on the inside what was showing on the outside yet there it was, stuttering and trembling hands and all. I had headphones on, listening to “I am not alone” by Kari Jobe, to keep my faith that everything would be ok and I would undoubtedly be seeing my new baby’s heartbeat soon, yet also to prepare my soul should I not.
It was worlds colliding inside of me. I told my husband I didn’t want to hear or see anything until I felt him touch my leg, I wanted him to be the one to tell me, good or bad. So I lay there, shaking, pouring tears, eyes closed, trying to focus on the song, while muttering desperate prayers under my breath and feeling unmovable in my faith that everything was going to be good. It was taking so long, I kept believing everything was ok and that soon it would all be over. I happened to open my eyes only to see the look on the technician’s face, eyes huge and glossy, a mix of emotions in her that scared me.
I started to breathe heavy, she told me not to move and held the ultrasound wand still. My heart sank so hard and fast I thought I may be having a heart attack. I froze. I looked back at her and she dropped the wand as though the strength in her hands failed her and literally ran out of the room. I was heaving and kept telling my husband something is wrong, they don’t leave unless something is wrong. She came back with another tech, she looked and whispered “yes” and left the room. I kept saying “something is wrong,” my husband kept asking “is everything ok, is the baby ok?” She said “I know you have been through this a million times, so I’m sorry, do you still want to see it?”
I hadn’t even fully processed what was happening before my mouth said yes, she turned the screen toward me and I immediately saw there was no heartbeat. I cried it out to my husband and covered my eyes, he kept saying “what, what do you mean?” He couldn’t process it either. He had walked in more confident than I had. I asked her, “there’s no heartbeat?” hoping she would tell me I was wrong. She said she couldn’t directly tell me, but pointed to where the heartbeat should be and said “that’s where the heart is, where the beat should be.” I only remember kicking my legs out, screaming, and falling. Like there was no ground or sense of time, my soul just plundered into darkness.
She left the room and my husband came over and collapsed in my lap, just holding me, crying like I have never seen him cry before. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a whole new emotion I have ever felt before, that I cannot describe. Those words fade in comparison to the feeling that you feel when you know your child has died. It’s this strange death you yourself die, pain and transition included, yet you go on living. You get dressed, you open the door, you ask where the bathroom is, they show you, you pee all the water you’d been holding hoping to see your baby for the 1st time. You look up into the mirror while washing your hands to see the new you for the first time in all your tear-stained, numb-eyed glory.
I got home, handed my mom (who had been watching my daughter) the ultrasound pic, and told her, “Here’s your newest dead grandchild” and walked away. I heard my daughter’s voice, it sounded sweeter than ever, I didn’t think that was possible after having lost 3 before she was born alive. But it did. Yet it cut me to my core. Because I now knew exactly what I had lost. I could not look at her. I walked to my bedroom and lay down in darkness and silence. My husband came in after me and did the same. We did not speak, did not touch. It was too painful.
I knew the moment my mom told my dad because from down the hall I heard him say “What?!” in this strange loud yell whisper that was shaking with tears. My own 2 siblings were lost to miscarriage, so while he was getting this news for the first time, for the 5th time, for the 7th time, it had a horrible familiarity in its pain. It spoke everything that needed to be said at that moment. No one can understand this hideous contradiction of emotions that is so strong it becomes it’s own new indescribable emotion if they have not felt both life and death simultaneously in their womb, in their heart.
Two days later I went for a second opinion, just for the peace of my heart before I began considering the next steps. This time, seeing my baby floating lifeless in my womb, already being prepared for what I would see, I was able to savor that time and take in the beauty that this was my baby, and he/she is real, my pain is real and justified, and that I loved him/her. I felt a flood of love and joy that this baby was in my life for however short a time, that he/she would be waiting for me in heaven, that I was a momma for the 6th time.
Yet I was numb. No tears, no words. It was a missed miscarriage this time. The baby had died a week before, and it took 4 more weeks from that day before the miscarriage process began, and that process lasted over the span of 5 days. I suffered. I contracted. A strange blessing to feel natural contractions as my living daughter was born via c-section after a failed induction. And a curse to suffer these contractions that I knew were in vain. I bled, and stopped. And bled and did not stop. So much tissue and clots and placenta and blood, by the time the baby came I did not have the strength, emotionally or physically to continue to dig through the contents of what I had passed yet I knew it was him/her by the size and the relief I felt.
Holding it in my hands was joy and accomplishment and empowerment (my doctors wanted a D&C but it was part of my personal healing process to deliver naturally) and overwhelming, soul crushing anguish. Relief and an emptiness that made me question whether or not I could ever recover. I was thankful to God that I did not need a D&C, yet so angry that He had allowed this. It was a time of being completely dependent on Him for my sanity and also wanting Him to just leave me alone. I looked at my husband and felt so bonded to and grateful for him, so glued to him I didn’t want him to leave my side for a second, yet wanted to run from him so I didn’t have to see the pain and disappointment in his eyes. That ugly new conflicting emotion again.
We had already purchased a memorial wind chime urn, so the next day we had a home cremation in our outdoor fireplace (the mortuaries could not do it for us as the contents were so small. Though we chose to do this, I do not necessarily recommend it as it was a harder process physically and emotionally than we anticipated). As I watched the light of the flames against the backdrop of the pitch black December sky, I felt the heat of the fire on my face and the cold winter chill creep up my back. I saw the strength of my husband as he pushed back tears and fed the flames, and simultaneously the fragility of his soul in the way he avoided my stare. And as I looked into my daughter’s eyes, innocent eyes that had no idea what had happened, I saw the reflection of the flames that engulfed the remains of her sibling and realized what was in those flames, had they lived, would have and should have grown to be like her, beautiful and breathing.
And yet, those flames also could have been her in the opposite way, she was the one of 6 who was given the privilege of life. And I felt blessed and cursed all at once. An overwhelming weight of joy and grief that just sat on my chest. And a painful sense of hope, still peaking its terrified little head out even in the midst of all this sorrow. Now, as I navigate this new life between light and darkness, it is hard to know what each day will bring, The only thing I do know is that I will continue to navigate, and I will do my best to find the light when nothing but darknesss, and will have faith when there is darkness in the light.
As painful as the memories are, they are mine, as crazy as it is to want to want to try again (I know most reading this know exactly what I mean by this) I do. This life between light and dark, it’s painful and rough and so so confusing, but it can be beautiful at times. I have 6 little miracles, 1 of them here in my arms that is Heaven on Earth, and 5 for me that are just Heaven. Just like there is that hideous new emotion made of ugly and beautiful, there is an astounding one also made of that same ugly and beautiful. Over time it makes you love life deeper and more freely, makes you more grateful for the things that do go right. Enables you to mourn with those who have not yet found the light side of the darkness yet and lead them there.
I cannot pretend to have this down to an art, I still need to be led more often than I’d like, I am simply learning on my way to my new normal. I have good and bad days. I am striving to find the balance and embracing the reality that I cannot change what has happened, death has touched my life. But it does not have to consume my life or stop me from living my life. Death has been defeated and my treasures that are my babies are stored for me in heaven. It’s ok to have been dragged through grief and still want hope afterwards. Not everyone will want to, and if that’s where their journey has brought them, that’s ok, but I want to want to try again.
Category : Sheila , Volunteer Bloggers