It’s been three months since I lost my baby to miscarriage. Many people who have been through the pain before still ask how I’m doing. Others, who perhaps never saw it as a big deal in the first place, seem to forget it ever happened (or never even offered condolences in the first place). And still others probably want to ask but don’t know if they should – as if bringing it up might somehow startle me back into mourning.
And people don’t like to see others hurting. I know I don’t. I am one of those people that can’t let anyone cry alone. I try not to well up, but the minute somebody starts sniffling, I’m a tear factory – a blubbering idiot who needs nothing more than a commercial for The Biggest Loser or Extreme Home Makeover to conjure a lump in my throat (seriously, I’m getting choked up just thinking about those surprise school visits from dads stationed in Iraq – don’t get me started).
So part of me is eager to put on a happy face and respond to inquiries in the positive. “I’m doing well,” or “I’m doing better.”
It’s not that it’s not true per se. I think I am doing better. I certainly feel better physically. But sometimes my response as it trickles out of my mouth sounds rehearsed or scripted. Maybe in some ways it is.
I jump into that quick step because I know most people are rooting for that. They hope to hear I’m doing better. I think pain and suffering and unease are uncomfortable to be around. I know if I’m honest with myself, I get squirmy when they rear their ugly heads, as if they’re contagions that could infect me if I stick around too long.
And nobody wants to be infected with grief, with loss, with sorrow.
Then there’s how it affects my own husband, who suffered the loss of his child too but never knew the bond that forms when new life develops in your womb. He can’t connect to reality because he had very little in the way of tangibility. He’s thrust back into the truth only when I experience an episode, whether it’s something as simple as one of our boys asking for the intercession of his sibling in heaven or my losing my temper over spoiled broccoli and then weeping right after. Is she on drugs? No, she’s just a hormonal boomerang.
But in between, nobody knows I’m aching a little still. Nobody on the outside can wrap his mind around the hormonal and emotional and spiritual and physical turbulence that wages on the inside, all while I maintain the illusion of getting along.
I care for our kids, I complete my writing projects… almost by their deadlines, I hang out with friends and family, I genuinely laugh, I prepare for speaking engagements, I give presentations, I blog a little, I read other people’s blogs, I get shopping done… sometimes before the cupboard is completely bare and I’m sniffing old Tupperware containers to figure out what’s in them. I make dinners for friends who’ve just had a baby or others like me who’ve just lost one.
And I pray.
For me, however, I’m still haunted – haunted by the sudden feeling like I want to cry for no reason; haunted by a sudden reminder of where I’d be in my pregnancy if my baby were still alive; haunted by jealous thoughts and guilty pangs. Haunted by the fears — oh those freaking fears. I know Jesus said not to be afraid, but I’m struggling big time in that department.
I’m scared I won’t be able to get pregnant again.
I’m scared to get pregnant again because I don’t want to go through another miscarriage.
I’m scared time is passing and that with every month I don’t conceive, I’m losing time… time to bring another life into the world before my biological clock shuts down. I’m scared that if we do get pregnant, our next child will be quite a bit younger than my little girl and that larger age gap will affect her relationship with him or her.
In the end, I suppose the best answer to how I’m doing can be summed up in, “It depends.”
It depends because I still don’t feel like I have my feet under me. I don’t feel like my fertility has fully returned to what it used to be. I’m more aware now that my body isn’t a well-oiled pregnancy machine. I’m more aware that our two little boys and little girl may never have another sibling here on Earth to grow up with.
Am I asking too much? This haunts me too. For I know far too many people who’ve suffered the greater cross of infertility.
And I’m even afraid to type these next words because this is my greatest fear yet.
For I have found that I am especially afraid of losing one of my children here.
The present slinks by as I busily shadow-box the portentous future while dwelling on the past. And that conjures guilt and more anxiety because I fear I will one day regret the unwillingness to remain centered on the now.
I’m trying. Some days are better than others. And it’s not like I’m just wallowing in this fog of despair. I mean it when I say that life is good for me and I am doing well most days. I feel unbelievably blessed with a husband who understands what it means to be a real man, with children who bring a smile to my face just because they exist. I’m blessed with a family and friends who know how to love. I’m blessed with freelance work and speaking gigs. I’m blessed to have been given a faith that many don’t fully know and still others sadly reject.
But I know that in the moments that I most need to reach out and talk to someone or just snag a hug, I retreat inward.
I’m less inclined to seek the solace when I need it most.
That’s why I’m so grateful for people like one of my friends who went through this twice before – she schedules coffee meetings without my asking just so we can chat. Or my sister-in-law, who has said on more than one occasion that I can just drop my kids off with her if I ever just need to go be alone for awhile – who makes a point of asking whenever she sees me, “So, how are you doing?”
Whether my answer bounces out of my mouth like a confident athlete or timidly steps forward in awkward doubt, one thing remains constant:
It sure is nice to hear the question.