“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
I contemplated for while whether to write this post or not, but it’s something that’s been weighing on my heart. Not necessarily because I just went through it, but because there are so many others who have experienced what I’ve experienced not two weeks ago. Some have even experienced the worst of it.
When I wrote my last post, I honestly didn’t expect the outpouring of love and support I received (Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart!). I didn’t expect to find so many women and families who have struggled with this experience (I’m trying to find another word for experience, but that is what it is!). And I certainly didn’t expect to be considered strong or brave for putting it out there. I thought I was being a coward for not wanting to have to deal with this alone, not wanting to have to explain the sudden absence of my belly to anyone, not wanting to have to inform people that “yeah, I’m not pregnant anymore.”
I remember when I first went to my doc to get a once over before we started trying to conceive, and it vaguely comes back to me that she did mention the possibility of miscarriages in pregnancy. She said that one or two miscarriages are somewhat normal, but she would only start worrying if I’ve had three or more miscarriages in a row – now that would be cause for concern. I, at that time, thought . . . “Psh, my mom was fertile, my aunts were fertile, heck my grandmother was fertile. And I’ve never had any problems with my cycle (sorry for giving TMI). I don’t need to worry about miscarriages,” and I foolishly pushed her words of warning to the back of my mind.
So of course when it happened, I thought “why me?” But there is no answer for that question, because it really isn’t about me. These things happen . . . all the time! More than you’d think!
Everything I’ve read mentions the possibility of miscarriages like it’s a normal part of life. According to Wikipedia and WebMD, roughly 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, which include those pregnancies that end before the woman even knows she’s pregnant. 10-20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriages and 80% of those end before the 12th week. Those that occur after the 24th week are called stillbirths and though it is uncommon, about 1 baby in every 200 are stillborn.
Countless friends and family have experienced early miscarriages before they even knew they were pregnant, others have suffered miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage, and a few have made it full term and still lost their baby. It is a very sad reality but the fact of the matter is . . . these things happen and they happen closer to home than you think.
I don’t mean to harp on the negatives, though I can’t help but think now, that when next I get pregnant, I really and truly can’t celebrate it until I have my baby in my hands. I was angry for a while mainly because miscarriages seemed to be a secret which I couldn’t understand, but with the statistics above, I get it now. There is no point in announcing that you’ve miscarried when no one knew you were pregnant in the first place. That and the fact that most women (myself included) see miscarriages as a failure, probably the biggest failure in life. I remember how ashamed I was to admit I failed one or two courses at college and that I had to resit those exams. And that is just a course in college. I’m not comparing the two, but shame and humiliation is a very real thing, whether it’s related to a failed exam, relationship, job, or pregnancy.
To be completely honest, I am now fearful that I can or will miscarry again, and that it’ll happen at the moment that I acknowledge my pregnancy, at that precise moment when people start asking about that growing bump . . . again! I feel like my pregnancy will have to be a secret just like miscarriages are to some women; but that in itself is impossible, especially since pregnancy comes with a bump and rapid weight gain . . . unless you’re that model with six-pack abs at 8 months.
I am fearful yes, but I am also hopeful, because of all the women who have reached out to me, they’ve all welcomed beautiful baby girls and boys into the world, and their lives. Their family grows despite their loss, their happiness is tangible regardless of their experience. They’ve given me hope, knowing that this is not the end. Life will continue, and they all have been blessed for their troubles.
There is one thing that always comes back to me when I think about my experience, and though it is not scriptural, it still reminds me of God’s will and plan for life . . . not just mine.
God uses silence to teach us to use words responsibly. He uses tiredness so that we can understand the value of waking up. He uses illness to underline the blessing of good health.
God uses fire to teach us about water. He uses earth to explain the value of air.
He uses death to show us the importance of life.
The Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho
I understand now that these things happen; there is often no cause or recourse or anything we can do but try to be healthy for the next time. I also understand that I am not the only one, and though I may be brave in talking about it, not everyone is willing to do so. I also understand that we all grieve differently; there is no recipe for coping with a miscarriage or getting over it. I also understand that there is no “getting over it”, there is just learning from it, and moving on. The miscarriage will always be with you, the lost baby will always reside in the back of your mind, and the thought of what could have been, will always be there.
One friend shared her own understanding of grief: “it’s like weight training – the weight stays the same but over time, the muscle grows until it’s easier to carry.”
I honestly hope that if there are women out there who may have suffered a miscarriage recently, that this helps you come to terms with it as much as I have. Of course, I couldn’t have been this forward thinking without those women and men who have reached out to me. Experiencing a miscarriage is a terrible thing, but knowing that you are not alone, that people around you have experienced it as well, makes the burden a whole lot less heavy to bear.
I want to do something else as well. I would like to know who would be interested in paying homage to their lost ones. There is a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day observed on October 15. I would like start a Jamaican chapter . . . but only if others are interested. I can’t very well observe the day by my lonesome.
I know most families/women would have acknowledged their pregnancy loss individually, and had their own little ritual. But I would like for all of us to come together and lend our support for others who may be going through this experience recently. I would love for you to share your success stories with others, just so they/we will see and feel the love and support and the healing that is possible.
We can plant a tree for our little ones, or light a candle. The International Wave of Light, in honour of the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, encourages participants in any country, to light a candle for one hour at 7pm on October 15, so that for 24 hours a continuous chain of light will be lit around the globe in remembrance of our lost ones. Is there any question as to how interested I am in this Wave of light?! I would love for Jamaica to participate, even if no one else does it.
So let me know if you are interested in participating in this year’s International Wave of Light by sending a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will provide updates from there and share with you the plans for our version of the International Wave of Light. Don’t worry, it will be completely confidential, and 100% spam-free.
Again . . . thanks to everyone who reached out to me since my ordeal. Your love, support, and continuous “checking in on me” is greatly appreciated beyond words.
Nuff nuff love to you my friends and fambily!