I cannot find the words to properly explain the joy you feel when you finally see the word “pregnant” show up on that little blue test. I cannot find the words to properly explain the gratitude and pride felt in watching your body change so quickly–all to provide a proper home to grow human life inside you. I cannot find the words to properly describe the giddiness in having not just one, but two little buddies with you always–to talk to, sing to, and dance around with.
I cannot find the words to properly explain the grief in losing first one, then shortly after, both little buddies–completely encapsulating you. Forever changing the way you view, walk through, and think about the world.
My husband Luke and I found out we were pregnant last summer. The deeply prayed for, longed for, completely miraculous blue word on the test brought us a joy I did not know was possible on Earth.
I sprang out of bed at 6:21 a.m. I can’t explain why, but I woke with an urgency to take a test on that very day at that very moment. A few moments later, I was sprinting out of the bathroom to wake Luke like a child waking her siblings on Christmas morning. Sorry, Pinterest ideas. There was no hope in me creating a social media-worthy “You are going to be a daddy” reveal for Luke. I was far too thrilled to hide this from him for even a millisecond. This level of joy filled the Pfleiderer house for the next few weeks.
After that, our home was filled with a unique type of mourning neither one of us has ever experienced.
There is life before our twins and there is life after our twins. These two lives are not the same.
I didn’t think there were any words to help a momma during this time. Other than, “I am so sorry. This SUCKS. I am so, so, sorry,” everything else said is either a well-intended attempt at silver-lining the cloud that simply cannot be given a silver-lining, or even worse, a minimization of the extreme pain you face. But after sharing our story with my dear friend Emily, she proved me wrong.
Through streaming tears audibly soaking her phone, she said, “Gosh, Kel. I am just so, SO sorry you two are walking through this. But I’m so comforted in the thought of those babies getting to watch their momma and daddy from up there, getting the best view of all you two are doing and all you will continue to do. I just know they are up there totally astonished at the rock stars their parents are. I know you make them proud and will do so for the rest of your days.”
When I was pregnant, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to hydrate enough, eat enough, study enough, move enough, track my symptoms enough, talk to them enough, be enough of anything and everything they needed. I now feel an overwhelming responsibility to live up to what Emily shared—I will fight to make these babies proud.
I will fight to celebrate their lives forever.
I will fight to say their names—despite society so desperately wanting to hush them.
I will fight for all of the other parents who felt insurmountable joy followed by insurmountable grief—and all the while, felt hushed away and tucked aside by a society that makes us feel anything other than a perfect, beautiful, 13+ week pregnancy announcement is just not right to share and would be best kept between the family.
Tell your story. You are a mom now. Your spouse is a dad now. Those babies of yours have names. That grief of yours is not meant to be hidden. The joy you felt at the miracle of their lives is not meant to be forgotten. Say their names. Tell your story. Share your grief. Celebrate their lives.
I talk to our babies every day. Today, I desperately want to talk to you, momma who just miscarried.
You will grieve this very desired baby (or babies) forever. The world seems to be tilted on a different axis . . . because it is. This is a new life now. You won’t “get over it.” And you shouldn’t. I know this, because my grandma, who rarely speaks of emotions at all, still gets choked up when recalling her angel baby.
Last Christmas, sitting at a small restaurant in Ohio, grandma fiddled with the stem of her martini glass as her voice caught, again and again, sharing her story with my sister and me. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my grandma emotional. Fifty years after she lost her baby, she sat across from two of her granddaughters and bravely told the whole story through teary eyes. Her face was glowing from the overhead Christmas decor, making every emotion so pronounced.
Fifty years later, and my ferociously strong and stubborn grandma is still grieving. You and I will grieve our babies forever, too.
This can seem a horribly grim thing to say. But when they were in your womb with you, you shared every moment with them, talking and smiling at them. They are gone from your womb, but above you now. As you grieve them, if you allow, you will be guided by them. Guided to be strong. Guided to tell their story. Guided to tell yours. Guided to keep pushing. Guided to make them prouder each day of the warrior woman that is their momma: YOU.
Grief is so strange, isn’t it? Grieving human beings who you never got to look in the eye, all the stranger. But momma, it’s OK that the waves still come. It’s OK that one second you feel fine, and the next, you’re crumbling and crippled—glued to your couch, lost in a riptide of crushing grief. Sometimes you may swear there is an elephant on your chest. Others, you may swear there are springs underneath your feet. You are a momma longing for her babies while also bubbled over with joy in knowing they will never know pain, heartbreak, exclusion . . . they will only ever know love. Let the waves come.
But do those babies a favor? Don’t surf those waves alone. Invite your spouse into them. Invite whomever else you can trust into them. They want to ride them with you, momma. They want to carry you to shore, momma. Let them.
As you share your story, know that most everyone means well. This makes people who love you very uncomfortable, because they can’t fix it. In the discomfort, they will say well-meaning things.
They may say, “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
They may say, “At least you weren’t further along.”
They may say, “Maybe don’t tell anyone . . .”
They may say, “Just try again!”
They may say, “Maybe your body couldn’t do it.”
Worst of all, they may say nothing at all.
I promise, though these comments sting, your loved ones mean well. They, too, are lost in this grief. Be gentle with them.
If something they say stings, I encourage you to educate them why. But understand they mean well. They want to take this pain away. They want to rip these pages out of your book because they love you, momma. And they hate that you are hurting. They don’t mean to hurt. They don’t mean to hush. They don’t mean to minimize your grief. Educate and guide them, just like your angel babies are educating and guiding you.
Momma, the awful truth is, nothing anyone says will make this truly better. But I will tell you, just as my dear friend told me:
I am so, so, so sorry you are walking through this. But I’m so comforted in the thought of those babies getting to watch their momma and daddy from up there, getting the best view of all you two are doing and all you will continue to do. I just know they are up there totally astonished at the rock stars their parents are. I know you make them proud and will do so for the rest of your days.
As diligent as you felt when you were pregnant, please, momma, be as diligent with caring for yourself in this new life. Keep eating. Sleep. Cry when you need to. Laugh hysterically when you need to. Educate when well-meaning but hurtful words arise if you need to. Talk about them when you need to. Be quiet when you need to. Say their names. Dream up what you think they would grow to be, what you think they would grow to look like. And if you feel led to . . . share your story.
As I sat, hysterical, on the crinkled white medical paper, my midwife said, “Kelsey. This isn’t your fault. This is so, SO common. You feel alone because you don’t realize how many other women have walked this road. You feel alone because nobody allows themselves to talk about it.”
Well, I thought to myself, I am going to change that.
Make them proud, momma. You already have. I know that will only continue.
Originally published on the author’s blog