Miscarriage: The Silent Box

11409024824_20e6b098e8_oBy Megan Oteri, blogger at APtly Said, Attachment Parenting International

To be filled with life is something.  To be pregnant with a growing little miracle of science and nature in your belly is beautiful.  To lose a pregnancy is sad.  The feeling is surrounded with so many emotions.  Guilt, loss, nothing, emptiness, aching, breaking, bending into shadows dark.  I had to take a break today and submerge myself in some creative work.  I wanted to shake this feeling of empty.  Shake it loose from the empty box it resides in now.  Like a box with nothing inside.  Just invisible strings connecting back to my heart.  I don’t know how to put it in words so I am not going to worry about using dazzling adverbs or catchy phrases, but they may just happen to come out that way.  I just want to write a post about it.

There are so many women out there feeling this same feeling today, yesterday, tomorrow.  It covers me like a vine nobody can see.  Much like a bean pole vine grasping to anything its tendril can reach.

Something sturdy, mounted in dirt, standing upright.  This vine of sadness can’t grasp onto nothing.  So I grasp and curl around words.  Around people I trust.  Around acknowledgement that it happened. That’s its over. That I need to grieve.

As my mind curls and bends in thoughts of what may have been, what was just yesterday, before the bleeding started, before the sadness erupted.  Before yesterday, I was cocooning into a ball of beauty, growing inside, feelings of joy and elation surrounded me.  Flowers and fruits of joy rippled in the sun.

Layers of light echoed over me, through me, around me, spinning into thick spidery webs.  Now there is nothing.  Just this box of invisible sadness nobody can see with the naked eye.

Long story short – I went to visit my dying mother in Colorado three weeks ago.  The night before I left, my husband and I made love.  I went home to Wyoming and Colorado where I feel the most alive and vibrant, for it is home and my place on this earth.  I have been transplanted to North Carolina and I am trying to make the most of it.  But back home, where I come from, just as the Kenny Chesney song sings, I love it there.  On this journey where I thought I was going to say goodbye to my mother, I was surrounded by a land that knows me.  That I know.  That I love.  This journey home, this journey to say goodbye, something magical happened.  We conceived a baby.  A miracle.  A seed that sprouted into life.  I found out last week I was pregnant.  I took three home pregnancy tests and was more surprised with each positive test, as I have struggled with infertility in the past.  My son is just thirteen months old.  We were not actively trying to get pregnant.  So it was a surprise to find out we were pregnant without even a blink of the eye, without a blink of the heart.

I took a home pregnancy test on Monday, then Wednesday, and then Saturday.  All positive.  The faint blue line got thicker with each test.  I took a urine test at the doctor on Monday and they told me to come back in a week because it was, not without a doubt, positive, but there was a shadow line.  So I took two more home tests that week, Wednesday and Saturday.  And sure enough, positive.  I started to feel the pregnancy symptoms, fatigue and drop to the floor tired.

I went in to take another urine test at the doctor yesterday,  feeling it wasn’t needed, feeling pregnant, feeling sure a life was growing and thriving inside me.  I didn’t need a doctor or lab technician to tell me I was pregnant.  Something bigger happened – a life bloomed from my journey to say goodbye to my mother.  How serendipitous.  How miraculous.  How joyous. It made the fact that my mother is dying a soft sleeve to rest on.  To rejoice on.  I was sure this baby was a girl and I was going to name her Eleanor Elizabeth and call her Ellie Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, named after my mother. I had visions of her soft curls, her big blue eyes, her big heart.

When I took the test at the doctor just yesterday, I noticed some blood.  Frightened, I told the nurse.  Then the results from the lab technician came in.  The test was negative.   I fumbled with my paperwork to hand to the check out clerk at the doctors.  She gave me a silent nod and a sweet abbreviation of sugar, “You’re all set, Sug.”   I wanted so badly to walk out the back door, nobody to see my sadness or my tears, as they began to gush. I walked past all the ripe bellies, round and plump with life.

Sometimes I wish there was a sign women going through the grief of miscarriage could wear on their back.  “Please treat with kindness – grieving heart – may slumber slowly today and tomorrow and certainly the day after next.”  But it is invisible.  Our eyes are swollen, sad, and watered with tears only time can heal.  There is no clock for this time passage.  It is not an hour, a week, a month, or a year.  It is a hole in our heart.  We go on.  And on. And hopefully you can give a hug to someone in need.  Perhaps, you just don’t know.  And what do you say? There are no words.  Just invisible tendrils trying to clutch at something strong, sturdy.  For it may be the hope of another chance at conceiving.

Perhaps it is the smile from a toddler in your arms.  Perhaps it is the earthy soil in your hands as you plant a memorial garden.  Perhaps, the box is still empty when you shake it, although you are sure something is inside.  Something thick. Something heavy.  Because something like a life just doesn’t vanish when you bleed.

Image credit: Ley

17 thoughts on “Miscarriage: The Silent Box”

  1. What joy and sorrow. So sorry. I struggled with infertility. I had 2 miscarriages and 6 chemical pregnancies. Then I had my miracle. Then I had two more unplanned miracles. I almost had four miracles but just had a dnc. It is always sad, always hard. Always lonely. I just try to live with gratitude and accept the rapid changes of life. That’s how I get through.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I too have felt this pain recently, as in the last 2 weeks. Ours was a surprise also. As I struggle with fertility issues and had to have fertility meds to conceive my daughter. We were no actively trying to get pregnant but was overly happy by the news. Less than 24hrs later I started bleeding. The hole I feel in my heart is so hard to describe. My husband has struggles with the loss too but is struggling to understand my pain when there is a beautiful 3yr standing in front of me with worry on her face. Unfortunately my story gets worse. After 2 weeks of miserable heartache, physical pain, and several ER and doctors appts I ended up back in the ER this past Saturday in horrific pain. Finally the on call doctor decided enough was enough and took me to emergency surgery (my biggest fear). After he was done and had me in recovery he came out and told my husband and my mom that I was very very lucky. If we had waited any linger I would have bleed out and died. He said as soon as he made his first cut I immediately started gushing blood from my abdominal cavity. Once he was able to get a clear view of what was going on he found my right Fallopian tube was completely mangled and ready to burst. He had to completely remove it and do several repairs to my uterus, abdominal walls and outside walls of my colon. I now have 3 new scars and more physical and emotional pain.

    My story/path is no different that any others. The emotional pain of loss is so strong and heart breaking. Something that is so hard to truly understand and feel unless you’ve walked those footsteps. My heart aches daily, but I try to find something throughout the day to be thankful for and smile about. Normally this consists of my daughter who is always bouncing and dancing about. She is very smart and is worth all my attention.

    I hope that you find peace and comfort with the loss in your life. Just remember, you are never alone. My prayers for you and your family.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost 2 babies before my son, and I know your pain. Sharing my story (months after the fact) helped me to heal. It connected me with strangers, co-workers, and friends that had experienced the same sadness and grief, ultimately bringing comfort to know I wasn’t alone. My thoughts & prayers are with you.

  4. I had a miscarriage 23 years ago. We already had 2 children and really wanted more. I was stunned by how hard the miscarriage hit me. I learned and have remembered the things you should not say to a woman who has miscarried: “It’s God’s will” “You’re lucky. You already have children” and “You can always try again.” The most wonderful moment was when a neighbor, whose miscarriage years before I hadn’t known about, came over one afternoon and, tears in her eyes handed me a bouquet from her garden before scurrying away saying only that she knew because she’d had one. I am so sorry for your loss. The grief is real. It will get better.
    Oh, and we have a son who was born almost a year to the day after the miscarriage. All the best.

  5. My heart hurts for you. I have been there too. I lost my first baby at 8 weeks gestation. The next 2 months were oh so long and lonely as I waited for my body to heal. I praise God though for my husband, family, and a few close friends who were there for me when I needed them most. My rainbow baby was born 9 months later. She is now 13 months old. I am praying for you!

  6. I too went through a miscarriage. Only after the initial devastation did I learn how common it was but why should and countless others go through that process feeling so alone. Shortly after my loss I wore a small felted heart pinned to my jacket to honour what could have been, my emotions, and others who felt the same pain. I wished others wore and knew what that heart ment, all I wanted were hugs and some sympathy to carry me through the grieving process. I did go on to have my second child but that pain never leaves only fades over time. Seek out other women for support, nothing heals better than that.

  7. Thank you for sharing this – I think that the more of us that write about it, the better. And you have managed it so beautifully too – I love that last line “something like a life just doesn’t vanish when you bleed”. No, no, it doesn’t. My healthy pregnancy number 3 came so quickly after my lost pregnancy number 2, but there’s still a space.

  8. I’ll never forget my OB ushering me out the back door of her office after learning that my son was gone at 36 weeks, 5 days. She shouldn’t have let me drive… I was in a state of shock.
    I’m sorry for your loss. Wishing you all the best.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. Just like everyone above I lost my first little girl to miscarriage. After 9 fertility treatments before her, we thought she was our miracle baby coming with no help. I still wonder…only because of the miscarriage did I go through with IVF and now have my amazing twin 13 year old girls. I wouldn’t trade them for ANYTHING and that is the only thing that helps me deal with her loss.

  10. That last sentence really got me! It’s so true we walk around and put on a show when people around don’t know what’s going on in our shattered heart. But then again we look around and perhaps they too have a broken heart full of loss and devastation and fear. We all need to treat eachother more gently and with more empathy! This short video offers some real comfort and answers! I hope some can benefit. This suffering is not supposed to happen. http://www.jw.org/en/video-why-study-the-bible/

  11. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a beautiful way. We just lost our son one week before he was due. I will never forget the moment when reality hit and all the tears and emotions welled up inside. Leaving my doc office through the back door to avoid all the bellies in the waiting room. Each day gets a little easier.

  12. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and oh-so-true words. I had my first miscarriage 12 days ago, and am still going through it both physically and emotionally.

  13. Thank you, this describes my recent experience so well. That feeling of new life inside, it quickens the heart. It opens up an endless well of joy. I’ll never forget the day I unexpectantly got a positive home pregnancy test and took my boys to the lake on a sunny Spring day. Everything was bursting forth with life. And I was part of it. I told my boys and as they snuggled on my chest reading a bedtime story that night they were so happy too that a new life for them to love was forming in my belly. Then I started bleeding, though lighter than a typical period. I thought somehow the tiny life would have hung on. I went to the doctor and like you, got the news that no I was no longer pregnant. I had miscarried early. There was no more life bursting forth, nothing growing inside me. I felt the joy drain from my heart down to my feet. All of the thoughts, “I wonder what this child will look like? be like? what her birth will be like? what my boys’ faces will look like when they see her?” flooded through me. I wanted to try again immediately but my husband being logical and caring insisted that I go to the doctor and have tests run to make sure I was healthy enough to carry a baby. I was surprised at the anger I felt towards him and later when he found me crying my eyes out he said “what can I do to make this better? I want to help” and I screamed at him “NO you don’t!” because in my mind he was denying me the chance to try again at least for the time being. It is amazing the amount of anger I felt at first combined with the emptiness of loss. I still wonder…why? What was this experience for?

  14. I may have not experienced miscarriage but I know how it would feel because I’m a mother too. Thank you for sharing your experience here. For sure you have inspired some of the mothers here who had the same experienced as yours. At least they would feel like they’re not alone. For sure those lil angels are in good hands and watching over their parents :)

  15. This might seem weird, considering that I’m 16, but this was beautifully said. My cousin experienced a miscarrige a little while ago and at first I didn’t know how to react. I spend a lot of time with her family and it kind of made it awkward. I knew how sad it was, but really I didn’t. I didn’t want to say the wrong things. They also choose to tell their children and I was concerned if the kids asked questions, I didn’t know how to answer them. This all might seen silly for me to have be so worried but I was generally concerned. This was very helpful and I will now be a bit more sympathetic. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. I know this feeling, all too well, so many of us need a sign, so we can get that kindness and gentleness we need right after the loss, and also so we can give a bit of it, when someone else loses and needs an understanding embrace. Virtual hugs to you.

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