I had a miscarriage ten days ago and it sucks.
My year was laid out before me. Six months of killing it at work and then a little baby as a reward. I had this plan to hire a project manager and potentially have a little maternity leave this time. I had a plan for world domination. I felt like I was on fire with my goals and plans and good energy.
I was 11 weeks pregnant; one week away from telling the world. We were calling it “Circe” and I was in an internal battle with myself over whether we should find out the sex. The baby was the size of a strawberry. I wanted it to be a girl so badly.
One tends to refer to a miscarriage as one would an on/off switch: one is pregnant, then one isn’t.
It’s not like that. My body spent seven weeks devoting all its resources to building a womb, that strawberry-sized baby, and the placenta to support it.
It’s closer to a birth than an on/off switch. Everything my body created had to come out. The uterus has to return to its normal state. Hormones have to stabilize.
Like birth, miscarriage has been so much harder than I ever would have thought.
I had no idea what to expect. I got in the car a couple of hours into it to drive to an appointment. I was surprised when I bled through my pad, my period undies, my pants, the car seat. Within twenty minutes.
The advice nurses hadn’t said, “Stay home, cancel everything, go back to bed.” Perhaps they thought it went without saying. It didn’t.
They had said, “Let’s make you an appointment with a doctor. If you fill four pads with blood in two hours, go to the emergency room.”
The doctor said, “Rest. Electrolytes.” She said it might be five or so days before I stopped bleeding.
She didn’t say, “Prepare for contractions. This is going to hurt. Your uterus has to return to normal. Prepare to pass large chunks of tissue. That was your placenta. One of them, but you won’t know which, was your strawberry-sized baby.”
She didn’t say, “Recovery could take weeks. Plan to rest. You will be tired. You might have headaches, dizziness, mood swings. You won’t feel like yourself. You’ll get through it, but the next couple of weeks will be rough.”
She didn’t say, “There will be a lot of blood.”
“No more baby,” I explained to our housekeeper when she asked why there was so much blood. Those were the words that came. In that instant, I traveled outside my body. I saw myself, saying those words, fighting back tears. I saw myself look quickly away so I wouldn’t see any pain in her face. I saw myself immediately put my reality out of my mind and reconnect with my son, spooning the yogurt into our bowls for breakfast.
I saw myself exhausted, spent, in need of rest. Not aware of the enormity of the situation, I saw myself trying desperately to carry on as usual.
The internet says that as many as 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. They are so common. Multiple members of my family have had them. A good friend of mine had three. Maybe you had one.
Why didn’t I know it would be so intense?
I’ve never had an abortion, but I imagine it must be a similar experience. It’s also the ending of a pregnancy, a body returning to a non-pregnant state.
I’ve been lost in a world between worlds, in the pain of those everywhere who have ever wanted a child desperately and then miscarried. In quiet compassion for those who had an abortion and had to hide everything from their families. Of those who were raped and lucky enough to have a safe abortion. Of all the physical pain that entails.
Ending a pregnancy is not something anyone would do lightly. I seethe with anger for the white men fighting to take away the right of women to control their futures.
I’m lucky that my first pregnancy was a success. I’m lucky that I have my son. I’m lucky that I can try again; that this isn’t the end of the story. Just an uncomfortable, painful chapter.
Every day I wake up, hoping to be back to me.