A miscarriage makes you part of a group you never wanted to be part of. It gives you a seat at a lunch table you never expected to have a chair at, reserved with your name and tears.
And yet, this is exactly where my family is.
Somewhere in the midst of the darkness, the midst of the storm, I’m praying we find the light again. And maybe in that light, there will be the opportunity to help someone else’s dark time feel less dark, less lonely, knowing there’s someone who has been where you are. Who has sat at that same seat at that infamous lunch table.
I hadn’t planned to share our story of the loss of Baby M. In all honesty, I hadn’t planned to look beyond our own sorrow and our own tears. But something changed when I began to realize there were a lot of other people sitting at the table, with quiet stories of their own losses. Their own quiet strength reached out to me in the darkness to let me know that as alone and destroyed as we felt, we, in fact, weren’t.
If you’re reading this in the throes of that awful miscarriage hell and you feel yourself plunging into the dark sadness of it all, I wish my voice could tell you that I’m on the other side of it all. That I’m dancing in the meadows of sun again, where every day doesn’t bring tears or a deep aching in my heart. But I’m not there. I still wake from any form of sleep with tears in my eyes realizing what was alive and dancing in my dreams, isn’t in my physical life. I’m met with the everyday, ordinary life occurrences that remind me that I won’t be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a new bundle of joy, that I can put the baby toys back in the closet and the totes of baby clothes back in the attic.
I’m not there yet. Not yet anyway . . . but I’m working toward it, little by little. And you will too. I promise.
For someone suffering through a miscarriage, it’s hard to put into words the feeling of sadness. How do you begin to explain the grief you have for a child you never met? How do you begin to explain that you not only grieve for the child you lost as a baby but for the first steps you’ll never see, the first “Mama” and “Dada” never spoken, the first day of school, a driver’s permit earned, the joys and heartbreaks of an ordinary life you won’t be able to walk through with them?
I can’t tell you what my little one’s favorite color would be or what color her eyes would have been. I can’t tell you if she’d have the same spitfire personality as her older sister or the same silly giggle as her older brother. Or if she’d have the same fear of crop dusters as her older siblings.
But I can tell you she was loved . . . deeply. For 12 weeks, she was a future we looked forward to watching develop with a heart rate of 170. She was “bebe” to her siblings and she was Baby Tiebreaker to her parents. She had an aversion to spaghetti and all things tomato-based and further sharpened her mother’s sweet tooth. A natural, feisty miracle who defied odds and who we never expected but yet couldn’t picture our lives without . . . until we had to.
And no doubt your baby was, too.
For those wondering how to help someone going through this sad time for a loved one, I can’t say I have loads of advice for you, either. Because let’s be honest, the one thing that would erase their pain, you can’t do. And while words are plentiful, few seem adequate to help fill the void.
But you can be there in silence. You can be there with hugs, with love, with a shoulder to cry on. You can let them mourn for as long as they need to, until they reach that meadow of sunshine. You can take the time to listen, to understand the grief, even if you can’t relate. And you can accept that though they may heal, they will never walk away from it unchanged and without some remaining scars and heartbreak.
Because they are parents with an unwavering love for their child.
“And I am restless
All that I’ve known to be of love
And I am gentle
You ran off with it all
And I am desperate
All that I dream
Where do you run, where do you run to?”
-“Mercury” Song by Bryce Dessner, James McAlister, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan Stevens