Six months have passed since I miscarried. I was only 7 or 8 weeks along, but there was life in me. Life was growing in my womb, and then it wasn’t. And I never told people. I don’t tell people. Both past tense and present tense: Nobody knew/knows.
Mom told me there was nothing to be ashamed of. Z told me I’d done nothing wrong. Doctors told me it was common, and “better luck next time.” But nobody told me that my heart would break every time I saw another couple’s pregnancy announcement, or that my pulse would actually stop — just for a moment or two — every time a student asked, “Do you want kids? When are you going to have kids?”
I never told my story. But I need to. I finally need to. These are my reasons for hiding, for omitting, for mourning, for running, for fleecing, for pretending.
- My body failed me. It failed me hard. I’ve run thousands of miles, dozens of races, 5 national championships, and 3 half marathons; I’ve walked a half mile on a broken ankle; I’ve endured a faulty gall bladder for months, only to have it removed days before regional track (at which I competed, naturally, and qualified for state); I pulled most of my own baby teeth, for God’s sake. When it came time for my body to do the one natural thing that God intended for it to do since day one, my body denied me. It teased me, it promised me, and then my body extinguished that flame of joy, of hope, with one single, unwavering blow. And then, as though literally taking the life from me wasn’t enough, my body added insult to injury with a massive kidney stone. My body failed me.
- I was relieved. Amidst the gamut of other emotions I experienced in the weeks following my miscarriage, I actually felt relief. I actually thought to myself, Thank you, God, for not letting me be further along. Thank you for taking this life early, instead of later. Immediately following relief: self-affirmation of my status as a callous dolt.
- Everybody and their mother suddenly became pregnant. Within weeks of my miscarriage, four other friends announced pregnancies; one in particular announced prior to the ten week mark. I couldn’t help feeling bitter, gut-twisting envy with each ultrasound photo and ecstatic social media post. Especially irksome was the couple who announced before ten weeks. I know, I know — they weren’t intentionally torturing me; how could they know my sorrow? But our pregnancies were at the same stage. Why me, instead of her? I wanted to reach through my phone to slap the couple; to tell them not to share yet, so much remained to be seen. But I bit my tongue.
- Teenagers were pregnant, everywhere. I don’t feel this is the time or place to comment on our wavering morals as a nation, or our failure to guide children responsibly; so I’ll just make a brief note: As a 25-year-old, I couldn’t imagine a bigger slap in the face than watching teenagers — no, children — waddle around with swollen bellies while my womb remained so tragically vacant. I wanted that baby so damned bad, I was married, my husband and I were in a great place financially and maritally; half of these kids didn’t even want a child, and certainly had no business attempting to raise one. The irony, the juxtaposition of these situations, was just too stark.
- I didn’t want to be awkward. People don’t know how to respond to miscarriages. As we grow increasingly dependent upon technology, we barely know how to share actual emotion; but empathy in the face of sorrow is an especially tough topic to tackle. I didn’t want people to struggle to find words, or look at me with pity while they stroked their perfectly fertilized wombs, or tell me how common early miscarriages are. I wanted real sorrow, and I knew nobody could feel that but me.
Z never had the opportunity to truly latch onto the reality of a baby; for some reason, I waited to tell him. I wanted to wait until more was definite. I’d taken 5 positive home tests, but the doctors never gave me a blood test. I’d been to my OBGYN once, bought a pregnancy journal, ordered the perfect onesie to reveal my news to Z, scheduled my first ultrasound.
My miscarriage came three days before that ultrasound. The onesie I’d ordered arrived three days after my miscarriage. Five days after my miscarriage, a student at school said I’d been sick and gone, probably because I was pregnant. Seven days after, I had a kidney stone removed. Nine days later, I burned my pregnancy journal.
And in the meantime, I didn’t tell people, because shame is a hard thing to share.