It took me four years after the birth of my second child to go back to the gynecologist. This wasn't due to any lingering birth trauma or white coat anxiety, either. Honestly, I was busy and lazy and nothing was with the ol' vagine so I kept putting it off. Finally, I found a doctor and we took some time to talk about my medical history. At one point she asked, "How many pregnancies have you had?" My heart sank as I was reminded that having my second baby didn't erase the loss I'd suffered between the births of my children.
My first pregnancy was unplanned, but welcomed. From a medical standpoint it was unremarkable in that it was blissfully uncomplicated and ordinary. In May of 2013, when my son was 20 months old, I began feel "not myself," so I took a pregnancy test. It immediately came up as positive and I laughed, carrying it out to my husband. "Babe! It happened again!" Another unplanned but nevertheless exciting pregnancy. Another baby, and this time we knew the weight of that reality. We knew what it was told hold one and care for one and watch one grow up. I knew what it was to carry a pregnancy to term.
But as soon as that pregnancy arrived, it was gone after two days of intense cramps and bright red bleeding.
I downplayed the loss, mostly because I was only a few weeks along and hadn't even known I was pregnant for very long. It wasn't planned anyway, and I knew that so many pregnancies end in miscarriage. But I was heartbroken, and hurting, and ashamed, and embarrassed. A week after I finally broke down and just kept sobbing, "I'm not OK."
I felt my feelings. I talked to my friends. I ate lots of chocolate. I snuggled my son. In time I felt OK. Not better, but OK, and I knew I was ready to try to get pregnant again. Within two cycles, four months after my miscarriage, I was pregnant.
But I didn't enjoy this pregnancy the same way I enjoyed my first, especially not in those early days. While I of course worried during my first pregnancy, after my pregnancy loss I understood exactly what was at stake in my third. I knew what a loss would feel like, and that the loss would be compounded by every additional day I carried. I knew the grief on the other side and I was scared of it, particularly when I thought about joining it with the pain that was still very close to the surface.
It's not out in the open anymore, throbbing and raw, but every now and then I'll go to the box where the pain is kept and opening it without realizing what's inside.
My daughter was born May of 2014, almost exactly a year after I lost my second pregnancy. I feel (irrationally) guilty admitting it, even now, but there was a tremendous amount of healing that came with that. It didn't erase the pain of my loss, but it alleviated it— helped to tuck it into a box that I would always keep, but usually closed and out of the way.
To be honest, most days I don't think about my miscarriage. Not anymore. And I feel irrationally guilty about that, too, sometimes. That fact would have seemed impossible four years ago, though. Back then I felt it acutely every single day, and I saw reminders of my loss everywhere. It was impossible to be truly happy for anyone who announced a pregnancy, and it felt like everywhere people were announcing pregnancies. But life moves on and we make new, beautiful memories that don't erase your grief but give you more joys to draw from.
Still, there are times when I'm caught off-guard, like at my doctor's, and remember that the pain is still there. It's not out in the open anymore, throbbing and raw, but every now and then I'll go to the box where the pain is kept and opening it without realizing what's inside. That's when I remember, again, "Oh yes. It's been here all along, out of sight, but very much in one piece."