I didn't see my second pregnancy coming... which, honestly, was par for the course, because I didn't see my first one coming, either. But within days of a positive pregnancy test my happiness turned to ash when I miscarried. At the time, I didn't know the phrase "sunshine baby," but later learned that it's used to describe a child who is born before a loss. And, the truth is, my sunshine baby helped me heal. He didn't take away all the pain, but he was one of the people who made the experience bearable.
The truth is, once I opened up about the fact that, yes, this miscarriage was painful, a lot of people helped me heal. My husband. The friend who sent me texts of encouragement and gave me a place to vent. Another friend who sent along fancy chocolate (never underestimate the healing power of chocolate, folks). What set my son apart, however, is that he helped me heal without even trying. Just his presence was remedial. I was wary of not being too reliant on another person, especially not my child, to make me feel whole again, but the truth of the matter is that humans have developed by relying on each other. It's who we are, it's how we survive, and how we move on.
Here are all the ways my child helped me heal from the loss of my possible child, without ever meaning to.
1. The Sadness Didn't Touch Him
And that's as it should be. While the fact that I mostly felt like I was the only person upset by my miscarriage is often something I resented ("How come you don't feel miserable, random Starbucks barista whom I don't know and who couldn't possibly have any idea that something is the matter?! Screw you!") I was glad that my child appeared to be (and, as far as I know, was) completely insulated from my heartache. Seeing other people happy was hard, especially pregnant people. Seeing him happy was a balm.
2. He Kept Me Busy/Distracted
This wasn't a heartache cure-all, but it's difficult to give in to your desire to lie on your couch unmoving for an entire weekend when you have a toddler who needs you to take care of them. And when you're doing things for your child — not a mindless task — you're pretty focused on that and it doesn't give you time to wallow. Don't get me wrong: I didn't really start to heal until I confronted my sadness and delved into it and let myself cry, but there's a balance between that and moving forward and my son helped me with the latter.
3. He Kept Me On A Routine
There's a comfort in routine, and a miscarriage is a double disruption — the routine of getting a period and then the nine month routine of being pregnant. So while the business of just living life in the usual way sometimes felt like a sham there was nevertheless something important and soothing in it as well.
4. There Were Always Snacks Around
My kid is a natural grazer — the boy loves his snacks, so there's always food out... which was good because while it's not a long-term solution there was definitely something to be said for eating my feelings a little bit after my miscarriage. Because I was absolutely hurting emotionally, but whether it was my mental state affecting my physical state or just the fact that my pregnancy had already changed my body, I was in physical pain as well and food was restorative. Sometimes the best chicken soup for the soul is actually chicken soup... or a handful of Goldfish crackers.
5. Toddler Cuddles
I mean... is there anything those can't help?! They're amazing on every conceivable level. A part of me felt bad that I was taking so much comfort from him in this way, because I didn't want him to feel he had to give me physical affection and I didn't want him to think it was his responsibility to make me feel better. But, ultimately, he's a cuddly kid who didn't actually seem to notice that I was sad and usually initiated the cuddles on his own, so I figure it's probably OK.
6. He Reminded Me That My Body Had Accomplished Amazing Things
Of course one's body doesn't need to reproduce in order to be considered accomplished or amazing, but I (not unreasonably) looked to my previous pregnancy, that resulted in my amazing child, to prove to myself that my body was more than an inhospitable death factory (which it felt like sometimes, after my miscarriage, because sometimes we think horrible, untrue thoughts about ourselves when we're depressed). He was a part of me, so at least some of me had to be pretty cool.
7. He's Funny AF
He's funny in the way that all early-stage humans are funny, but he's also been remarkably witty from the time he was a wee little one and that's always brightened up a bad day.
8. I Reveled In The One-On-One Time Because...
As I said, I didn't mean to become pregnant a second time. When it happened I was sort of on the fence about whether or not I even wanted a second child. While I always leaned toward yes, becoming pregnant and then losing that pregnancy showed me just how much I really did want another baby. So I knew, in time (but soon), I would try to get pregnant. This gave me a sense of "Get the one on one time with this little guy while I can, because if all goes well that's going to be harder to do in a year or so."
9. He Was Enough
I knew I wanted another baby, and I knew there would be a whole different level of heartache should that become impossible via secondary infertility. But I also knew that if I never had another baby again, I had the one in my arms. While this fact uttered by other people is unhelpful and offensive in how dismissive it is, when considered on my own it was, indeed, a comfort.
10. Just Look At Him
I mean, my goodness. Who couldn't smile looking at this face?