Empty Belly: The Lessons of Miscarriage
I’ve always known that miscarriage exists. Kind of like I’ve always known that aliens exist- in some hypothetical universe out there where people wear tinfoil hats and spend their lives staring at the stars. Basically in someone else’s reality- just not in mine.
When I decided to have kids, I thought I could approach it like any other worthwhile endeavor- set a goal, make a plan, and go for it. And to be honest, baby #1 was like that. Awesome pregnancy, standard birth, healthy baby.
I thought #2 would be the same, but I was wrong. I stepped into that alternate universe and got a harsh dose of its alternate reality.
I won’t belabor the point by reliving all the gory details. Suffice it to say, it was pretty tough. I had a dark couple of months, during which time I felt physically empty and demoralized by the heartbreaking setback.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend that in life, there will be times when you’ll go all in, you’ll play a brilliant hand, and you’ll lose. You’ll walk away from the table empty handed, defeated and alone.
It’s part of life, but it’s a difficult lesson, and it’s hard to bounce back. But here’s what I’m learning through this experience:
1. Gratitude. Loss can have the paradoxical effect of magnifying the beauty of everything that remains- the heart that beats, the marriage that persists, the child that thrives. As long as there is life, there can be magic.
2. Play hostess to grief. This is something my brilliant friend Audi wrote about in her blog post a few months ago, Grief and Gold. Welcome grief in, and give her the space and time she requires. Take what she brings, and give her full range, until she’s done what she came to do.
3. Let your body heal. Give your body as long as it takes to knit itself back together, no judgments attached. Feed it nectarines and sunsets and copious amounts of any other beauty it desires. It will come back in its own good time.
4. Be open to love. This was hard for me, but I made an effort to share my experience with the people around me. I discovered I’m not alone, that so many other women have gone through this, and they survived. I became the recipient of countless acts of tender kindness, and I felt incredibly loved.
There’s nothing that can fully remove the scars of adversity. Sometimes the best thing you can do is lie in bed for a while and cry, and that’s okay too. I definitely did a lot of that. Loss becomes an irrevocable part of you.
But I want to believe in healing and renewal, and the potential for life after loss. I want to believe that life can grow out of loss, if I can muster the courage to allow it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever try to have a second child. It may not be in the cards for me. But I will choose to live as gloriously as I can. And I’ll put my cards back on the table, in one way or another. I’ll play that brilliant hand, and let the cards fall where they will.