Photo source: This Is Us, www.nbc.com/this-is-us
Warning: This post contains spoilers from the Nov. 21st episode of This Is Us.
When you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss, as many of us on this site have, watching one on TV can be one of two things:
- Cathartic—It’s so nice to see the pain and loneliness captured on TV and know you’re not alone.
- Heartbreaking—It was hard enough living through it once. Remembering the pain is not fun.
Watching Kate and Toby experience a miscarriage was a little bit of both for me. This Is Us really was all of us this week.
As I watched Kate talk to her baby, touch her not-yet-there bump and smile softly to herself as she thought of her baby, I remembered doing all of those things with my baby in April 2016. From the minute the second line appears, that baby is so real—no matter how hard you tell yourself not to get your hopes up.
Like Kate, I was scared to hope at first. But we saw the heartbeat (twice!), told family, some friends and even some coworkers, and started to dream. But despite the dreaming, the nervousness persisted. I remember worrying every time I went to the bathroom that there might be blood, and being so relieved when there wasn’t.
Until one day, there was.
Just as Kate did, I asked myself, “How can I be this sad? I never met him. Or her.” And yet, he or she was already mine. I had so many dreams for the baby who would have completed our family. I loved him or her already. And though I only carried our baby for nine weeks, I was devastated when the pregnancy ended.
I, like Kate, am overweight, and I was sure it was all my fault. I wondered what I could have done differently. It took many weeks to remember that our first baby was perfectly fine, despite my weight, and when bad things happen, it doesn’t have to mean that it’s somebody’s fault. It wasn’t my fault. That was so freeing to finally believe.
On This Is Us, the doctor cavalierly tells Kate and Toby that there is nothing stopping them from getting back to their lives, as though a pregnancy loss is no more consequential than a cold. I remember a similar bedside manner from my anesthesiologist when I was getting my D&C, and I cried as I went into the procedure. It wasn’t simply removing tissue from my body. It was the loss of my BABY.
Fortunately, my experience was slightly different from Kate’s when it came to grieving with my husband. One perk of having to untell my coworkers was the support I received from so many of them who had also experienced pregnancy loss. One of my male coworkers reminded me that husbands are often overlooked during pregnancy loss. He suggested that I give my husband a big hug and let him know that I know he is hurting too, and we will get through this together.
And we did. But no matter how much time passes and what new blessings come into our lives, there will always be a space in our hearts for the baby we never got to hold in our arms.
Kristen Kessinger is a member of Through the Heart’s Board of Directors.