Trigger Warning: Infant Loss / MiscarriageThree years ago in April I was losing our first baby.
We conceived on a trip to California and brought home this special secret. I loved knowing I had this little being to care for who would be with me on all our adventures. Ben and I didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or a girl, but we called her Sweet Pea. Together Sweet Pea and I made maple syrup, attended a cooking class, celebrated Easter, taught photography classes, and road in an airplane. We only had ten and a half weeks together, but I can tell you from experience, ten and a half weeks is a long time. It’s long enough for priorities and plans to change, and most importantly, for one’s identity to shift. I was mom to that little baby.
There are things I remember so vividly about the beginning. I remember singing Sloane’s SongÂ in the shower while rubbing my belly to send in a little extra love to the baby. I remember lying back in the ultrasound room and seeing her heartbeat for the first time. I remember my world crashing down as the doctor explained that the baby looked small, but we would have to check back to know more. The wait was excruciating. Each week brought worse news, and on April 19th, we were told the baby no longer had a heartbeat.
I was grief-stricken, and the process of physically miscarrying made it all the more traumatic. After losing the baby at home, I ended up needing D&C surgery because of continuing tissue loss, and after the D&C did not remove everything, I spent weeks, then months continuing to lose blood and tissue. As I was trying to heal emotionally, I was facing a constant physical reminder of the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
During this time, life went on. I tried to fake happy through my birthday just two days after the surgery; a week after that I stood up in my best friend’s wedding, then busy season hit, family holidays came and went, and it wasn’t until the end of July that my body finally healed. And when it was healed, I didn’t care.
My body had failed me. I had done “everything right”; I had loved that baby with all I had, and yet there I was, empty. I didn’t want to care for a body that didn’t seem to care for me in return. I was depressed, living in darkness, and completely unable to see anything beyond that. All I wanted was to make it back to who I was before that happened.
I’m sharing this now, not for closure (I don’t really think that’s possible) because I’m not in that dark place anymore. Eventually I could see past the fog of grief, not all at once, but gradually. I began to care for myself and my body again, I began to look forward to things (a feeling I thought was gone for good). I never made it back to who I was before the miscarriage, but I found my new identity somewhere along the way.
There are things that still hurt even now, three years later with a baby in my arms. I can’t listen to Sloane’s Song and I wince when people refer to Juniper as “such a ‘sweet pea'”. When someone asks if J is my first, I pause, because that questions is harder than the asker means it to be.
I feel things deeply and I think this makes me responsible for sharing my story. I got a big dose of sensitivity from my dad, and extra empathy from my mom, and the end result is that I feel everything at 100% whether it’s mine to feel or not. It took me a long time to find my way out of grief, much longer than the world around me assumed was necessary. And I faced it without sharing, somehow fearing the acknowledgment of my pain would make it all the more real. So, right now, I’m just here to say, if you’re struggling with miscarriage, infant loss, or something else that has you in that dark place, I want you to know I see you. I’ve been there, and it’s okay to not be okay.
If you are facing grief or mental health issues, don’t be afraid to ask for help through support groups, grief counseling, or call the free National Helpline for someone to talk to 24/7 1-800-662-HELP.