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Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Postscript: Here Is What I Suggest

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the postscript to those 11 messages.

February 4, 2015
Dear Friends,

I promised to write an ending to this story, but it turns out I don't know how. Because every story starts with a question, it is expected to end with an answer. I haven't got one.

When I began writing in September, the question seemed straightforward: How am I going to get through this? What I've discovered in the past few months is that I'm not. There is no "through this" to get. My second pregnancy contains a void, the contours of which are unknown and unknowable. While the crisis is over, the potential for questions will always exist and I will always find myself lacking for answers.

The question now seems to be, how do I live with this? This story has to become a part of my life, something I can carry with me that fits and makes sense. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer. It starts with finding a way to talk about it.

There are a few names for what I went through - "anembryonic pregnancy," "spontaneous abortion" and the wonderfully Dust Bowl-chic "blighted ovum." Most of these only work if you know when the embryo stopped developing. The term that seems to fit my situation most closely is "missed miscarriage," a horrible amalgam of negligence and incompetence; you fucked up your pregnancy and you didn't even notice. It's a wonderful tool to make you feel worse in an already painful situation.

Terms like "miscarriage" let us separate the failures from the successes, maintaining a specific idea of what pregnancy should be. Pregnancy ends with childbirth; anything else gets siphoned off into a different category. Fear, grief, sadness and shame - all of which might be part of any viable pregnancy- get siphoned off as well. This narrow definition of "normal" doesn't reflect the truth anymore than the narrow expectation that we'll "get through" our grief. My first pregnancy was a wonderful experience, but it was also terrifying and sometimes maddening. My second pregnancy was a tragedy, but there were times when I felt stronger, more loved and more loving than I ever have before. If we can't accept that every pregnancy contains that complexity, we set ourselves up for failure no matter the outcome.

This experience was profoundly isolating. Some of the isolation was self-imposed; I lost more than whatever came out of my uterus. I lost confidence, in my body as a safe and functional tool and in myself as a socially desirable person. I lost the lubricant that allows us to move in the world without exploding at the horror of it all. I truly felt - and still sometimes feel - unable to bear the sadness and soldier on.

Still, much of my isolation stemmed from the perception that no one would want to deal with me. I wasn't a proper pregnant woman anymore; I was a something broken and dangerous. No one wants a reminder that biology is not a meritocracy. I can recover much of what I lost, but to claim this story fully I'll have to keep dragging out the laundry and proving that it's clean.

What you have read over the past three weeks is my testimonial. I don't know if I could tell you this story face-to-face, but I wanted others to know. From July 23rd to October 10th of 2014, I was pregnant. It didn't work out the way I'd hoped and I'll carry the disappointment for a very long time. But I've learned that deep sadness can exist alongside humor and joy. It's complex and uncomfortable and frequently a mess and I'm getting used to it.

Many of you have asked if there's something you can do to help. Here is what I suggest: Share this story. Don't worry what other people will think of you for sharing it. Find a way to share your own stories. If you can't find the words, make new ones. Identify all the missing answers before you forget the questions. Fall to pieces when you need to. Be a mess and let everyone know it. Don't be afraid to laugh or get angry. Do both at once and then have a good cry. Find help if you need it. Trust someone.

All of this may or may not make me feel better, but it will make you feel better. And that helps.

Love,
nj

-

Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 10: Steve The Cat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11: My Final Goal Was Survival.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy: The Podcast.

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on February 5, 2015


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