What was felt and not said

Mel just published a truly moving post on her blog. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do.

It really hit a nerve with me, what she wrote, and inspired me to finally tackle something that I had before been too scared to say. The waters were too murky, the depths unknown; I couldn’t see where I was standing, wasn’t sure what I would encounter if I took a step. Writing about it felt like a futile exercise, one that would only stir up more pain, anguish, confusion and shame.

I read Mel’s post. I let my own words spew forth on the page. I didn’t pause to ponder if I should press publish there, in that space but then a strange thought crept into my head. Should I post it on my own page? My first response was an all encompassing, gut wrenching assertion of, no, you must not. And that is what I knew that I had to.

My miscarriage is still the most painful loss I have endured. Experiencing that loss, compounded by the absence of validation, was the most harrowing struggle I’ve ever undertaken. I was fortunate enough to get pregnant, and have a healthy child, quickly after my ectopic. With distance, and a live child between us, I felt cushioned from the devastation but I still wanted to fight for those who remained in the trenches, whose wounds were still fresh. I wrote Miscarriages are Real Losses and, for the first time, knew I had made a difference.

Because of that, because of who I once was, I’ve never written what I’m about to post here, though I have felt it. I think you’ll quickly understand why.

My comment on Mel’s post:

Wow. I can’t quite put into words what this post meant for me. The confusing swell of emotions it inspired that din inside of me, a storm I must endure until it fades into a quiet calm.

I was thinking the other day of my miscarriage, marveling at how it didn’t hurt so much any more. The reality is, sometimes I think about it and it hardly hurts at all. Sometimes I don’t feel it, the area is numb to the touch, like the place where a dog bit me once and even though it was one of the most heinous wounds I ever had, it never caused me pain because the dog had dug out the nerve with my flesh. That is what looking back on my miscarriage is like. I know it was a heinous wound and that it should hurt but it just doesn’t, not anymore.

It doesn’t hurt so much because of my daughter.

My first pregnancy was due in March and my daughter was born in June. My daughter would not exist if that pregnancy had thrived. And the thought of not knowing, as you said, my particular little girl, is something I just can’t fathom.

It’s not just my daughter though. The first March after she was born it still hurt to touch that loss, to speak of it, to return to it. It wasn’t as raw as the March I was pregnant but it was tender all the same. I suppose it’s time healing a wound. But it’s also the fact that part of the wound was in the wanting, not in what was lost. And I have now what I was wanting, it might be slightly different than what was lost but it’s also very much the same.

I think it’s also in that I didn’t have to want for very long after what I lost. The short months between my loss and my pregnancy helped it to heal faster and leave less of a scar. I wondered before but I’m sure of that now.

When I think about trying again and the fear of another miscarriage seizes me, it doesn’t seem so paralyzing. It’s not that I wouldn’t be devastated, because it would be, it’s just that I know I can survive it now. Not because I have survived it before, but because the wanting of it is no longer a raw and savage thing whose undying power sends me reeling. The strength of that wanting has been tamed, by my daughter, by my years here, by a new expectation that I will probably be able to have another child and by a knowledge, based on prior experience, that if I do have another child, the wound will heal and scar and some day stop hurting so much, will as you say, “reframe it.”

After my ectopic I took to devouring miscarriage and loss books. Every book validated my feelings of devastation but they also spoke of those for whom early losses were not all that painful. I remember wondering, incredulous, how a woman could not feel as I did, that her entire being were bleeding out of her. Such a distinct memory of being sure that I would never, NEVER feel that way about my own loss. It would never be something small and inconsequential, a comma signaling a brief pause in one sentence of my life.

And it’s not that I feel that way now, but I feel closer to it, and even the movement in that direction feels traitorous, to what I lost, to who I was before, to what I have written. I still haven’t reconciled those feelings.

I also wonder if it makes me cold.

8 responses

  1. Not cold. We all grieve and heal differently. Depending on so many extenuating circumstances that are known as Life.
    I’d tell you not to beat yourself up if I thought it would help any. 😉

  2. Not cold. And it’s hard to know what you might feel until you experience it. I hope that never happens to you. I felt more afraid with each pregnancy until I had my daughter. It was the other way around for me … I already had my son, who came easily … perhaps that made a difference?

    Either way, I no longer grieve as I did. But I also, like you, struggle with wanting to belong to and support this community, and feeling like there’s something traitorous about who and where I am now.

  3. You hardly seem cold…

    I also ended up being moved to write a post in response to Mel’s. Grief is a strange thing — we talk so little about it that I think we don’t always remember how many faces it has… cold, hot, frantic, calm…

    … but all the major losses in my life leave this huge huge hole,and then years later, it is just a comma. A pause where my life crashed to a stop. I tried to breath. Meaning was changed. And life weaves a narrative after it.

    And Justine… I think there is nothing traitorous about being further along and letting people have an glimpse that it won’t always be this raw and intense and awful. We all have different things that are easy — some conceive again easily. My easy, is I have no physical pain, no periods, no need for tampons again!!! woot woot, thanks early menopause! What we share, is that we all had some really hard days, for different reasons, and we needed a safe place to talk about them. And reminders that people, people like us, are strong enough to survive the storms.

  4. Not cold at all. Just at a different phase in grief and recovery than you were at before. Because there always is, or should be, recovery and healing after the grief. That’s life. It goes on.

    Like the others, I also commented on Mel’s piece.

  5. Sorry I’m just now commenting, days later. Been thinking about this post a lot the last few days!

    You are NOT cold- you are human. Four years ago, on Christmas day, I lost my first baby- my dog Pippi. Please do not think I am comparing a dog to a human baby AT ALL- they are NOT the same- however, it was a real, extrememly painful loss for me. For weeks and months I grieved and hoped she would come back, and it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest.

    Now- I don’t miss her at all. In fact, if she showed up today, I would be overwhelmed and dare I say- upset. I’ve moved on, with new, (too many) crazy dogs and of course, the little guy. I still remember her with fondness, but the ache is gone.

    The fact that you have healed emotionally is HEALTHY. It doesn’t mean that baby still isn’t significant and loved. But you are living your life looking forward- continuing to grieve does not make that baby any more or less loved or important.

  6. I just posted my comment on Mel’s post, but I wanted to re-post it here because I’m interested in your thoughts on it since you know me in real life. Her post brought up some feelings I was surprised at, and some that no one else mentioned in her comments. This is what I wrote:

    For some reason, as I read this post, I found myself feeling angry. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, because as I read your words, I could completely understand why you feel the way you do and how you were so honest and brave to post this. But I had to sit with it for a while to figure out what else it was that I was so upset about, and it’s because I’m still on this side. I’ve had four losses, two of them almost into my 2nd trimester, and not only do I have the obvious pangs of jealousy that you and so many other women are where you are, but it’s that that’s all I have of my children. I know they weren’t children yet, I know that, and yes, it’s the hope that we have for those children that we cling to most, but what if that’s all I ever get? What if I never have a child that gives me the opportunity to feel he or she is the reason I lost those other babies, that it was because I was meant to have him or her? What if I never get that chance? I was angry for myself and my situation (not at you and yours), scared that one day, these losses won’t mean as much to me as they do now because it may be all I ever get of being a mother. If I lose these feelings, then I lose a huge part of me that has hoped for that for so long. Of course I don’t want to continue feeling the way I do now (with my grief) for the rest of my life, that’s no way to live…but there’s a part of me that is so scared to let go of this because I fear it’s all I’ll ever have of being a mother.

    I think it’s amazing that you can feel this way, and if I were in a different place, if I truly believed I was still meant to be a mother, it would give me hope. I don’t think you’re cold at all. I think, like so many other commenters above say, time moves on and the grief and loss we once felt so strongly gets replaced by new life and dreams. But for me, I’m just not there yet. I have that desire, but it’s riddled with fear and sadness.

    I was scared to put that out there because the last thing I want to do is offend you or her for feeling the way that you do. I completely, 100% understand why you do, and think you SHOULD feel like that. But those were the feelings I experienced when I was reading the post, and I felt like they should be voiced. Thoughts?

  7. I got here to your blog from Mel’s recent post & between hers & yours, you both have articulated feelings I have been struggling with since the birth of my daughter. I want to thank you for helping me to untangle my knot of emotions & find some peace.

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