During the final week of September, 2009, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. My husband and I had only been trying for less than six months, so were elated and grateful for our future with two children. Things felt like they'd aligned and all was right in our little world. Then, just a few days later, I discovered I'd lost the baby. It's one of the worst memories of my life and, still, there's some things you can only learn about your marriage after a miscarriage that I'm thankful for; things I maybe wouldn't have otherwise known if I hadn't experienced something so heartbreaking.
The day it happened I was scheduled for an ultrasound. I've always had issues with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS) and my uterus is tilted (along with a long list of troubling symptoms that led to this appointment), so my doctor was being proactive. I still remember the look on the tech's face when she searched for the heartbeat that wasn't there, and I still hear the silence of the room when I asked what was wrong and she didn't answer. My mom and daughter were in the room with me and we collectively knew something was off.
After I'd been situated in the farthest corner room — the room I decided was meant for the loudest cryers — my doctor came in and laid his hand on my shoulder. The rest, as they say, is a blur. His lips moved and he explained what had happened, but I couldn't hear him. I turned to my mom and cried so hard I could've died from broken heart syndrome, right then and there. Just mere days before my daughter's third birthday party, I was scheduled for the removal of my child the very next day. It was Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 and I remember it like it just happened because, before I ever met my baby, I loved her.
In the days and weeks and moths after I sunk into such despair. Essentially, I became another version of myself; one that resembled the woman who'd already fought severe postpartum depression (PPD) and survived (barely). At some point, my partner and I would decide to try again and for nearly two years (just when we were on the verge of fertility drugs), we failed and failed and failed. I'd go on to have one other miscarriage thinking I'd never give birth to another child again. The pain was unbearable as everyone around me seemingly got pregnant at the drop of a hat.
There's a lot I've learned through all of these difficult experiences, mostly how my relationship with my partner would expand and grow in ways it wouldn't have without all the loss and grief. Others would try to be there for me, but he was the only one who shared in a similar pain. Of course it's not the same because I'm the one who'll forever feel that loss from within, but he hurt, too. I held onto that and if you're going through the same, you should, too. It might be what saves you when everything else feels lost.
Priorities May Change, But That's OK
After any kind of loss, things are going to change. At first, emotions are fresh. I couldn't see through any particular moment, let alone look ahead. In order for me to move forward in any capacity, as a mother who'd experienced the unfathomable, I knew things would need to adapt around me and not the other way around. This meant everything. I wasn't capable of doing much more than finding the earth beneath my feet again, and my partner knew and understood this.
He helped organize our lives so that I was able to grieve the loss as long as I needed while he managed all the things I was usually responsible for. This included bills, meals, and sometimes even time with our daughter. Knowing my history of anxiety and depression, he took this healing process just as seriously as any good partner should, and that meant prioritizing on my behalf —something I know he wouldn't have done otherwise.
Take Comfort In Not Having The Answers, Together
Here's the thing: you don't have to have all the answers. In fact, I challenge you not to seek them out immediately after you experience a loss. My circumstances came with a whole string of unanswered questions; things that didn't make sense or add up, and things that really just made the healing process that much harder. My marriage didn't suffer through any of this but, instead, revived some of the weakening foundation as we resolved to figure the future out together.
Only The Two Of You Will Feel This Particular Loss In This Way
Grief is a strange thing to navigate and you really don't know how you'll handle it until it is happening. When you lose a baby, no matter how far along you are, the only person who truly understands this grief is your partner. When I got home from that devastating ultrasound, my partner left work early to be with me. He pushed through the door and laid beside me as I cried endlessly. He held me and he cried, too. This was our baby. Ours.
So while it was my body that betrayed me, he lost a child, too. This was an important realization for me, as it helped connect us to more than the grief. We had this thing in common; this ugly thing that no one should feel but, ultimately, it would make us stronger — as long as we both held onto the understanding of the loss being both of ours.
Learn To Be There For Each Other In New Ways
The definitions and intentions of being present for someone in the wake of any type of loss or tragedy can change. While my partner was a great provider and father to our daughter, at the time I really needed us to redefine our relationship. Instead of romance, I wanted nurturing. Instead of jokes, I wanted comfort.
At an uncertain time, and as my hormones fluctuated, my new self demanded security and friendship. We had to figure out how to bend with one another's needs in a more immediate way, rather than the ways we'd been used to. It wasn't always easy, and still isn't, but in finding other ways to connect, I think it helped me find a new hope for our future.
Love Is Not Conditional
One of the biggest lessons learned through the process of this miscarriage was that the love I have for my partner is not, and can not, be conditional. We are human, we are flawed, and we are bound to hurt one another or make mistakes. The trick is to continue looking for the bright spots and holding onto those with everything you've got. If you can make it through loss, you can make it through anything.
Even though seven years has passed since that traumatizing appointment, not a day goes by I don't think of all that baby might've been. My partner and never did stop trying for another child, and October 11th, 2011 — on our daughter's fifth birthday — we gave birth to a healthy baby boy and this time, he survived.