Earlier this week, I stumbled upon this article and subsequently shared it on my Face Book page because it struck so close to home for me: The Loaded Question: How Many Times Have You Been Pregnant?
I discovered that pregnancy loss is like a secret society you never asked to join. You don’t realize how many members there are until you become one of them.
That statement especially touched me. In the years post my struggle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, I’ve learned that everyone has a story and there are thousands of women out there who may be struggling the same way I did. Or who have walked a similar path to me. Even my own mother.
I only found out half way through my own struggle with recurrent miscarriage and infertility, that my own mom had had a miscarriage before she gave birth to me. I never knew that. I did not know that she knew my pain until one day she told me.
And that’s the thing, like so many struggles in life, often what a person is struggling with on the inside can’t be viewed from the outside so it’s easy to pass judgement and heap criticism when you have no idea what’s really going on. I remember shortly after Ava was placed with us, she was still a tiny baby, viewing a conversation on an infertility support forum, where one fellow infertility sister was commenting on how a simple visit to the mall on a Saturday morning had become so excruciatingly painful for her and how she struggles with feelings of jealousy and anger seeing mothers in the mall with their babies and children. I remember thinking at the time, she could have walked right past me, felt that surge of jealousy and anger towards me and my baby and never know what hell fire I’d walked through before I held my child for the first time.
Recently, I was at a kids birthday party. A really festive and fun one and all us mom’s were sitting on the covered patio, sipping our wine while the kids swam, one thing led to another, I’m not even sure I remember how the conversation started but before I knew it, about 4 of us mom’s were confessing to each other about the number of pregnancies we’d had, how many babies we’d lost. Just like the women from the article said, it really is like a secret society none of us ever asked to join. But after discovering our shared membership, we simply poured more wine and before long, we were sharing stores of miscarriage, molar pregnancies and struggles with infertility, there was much hugging, crying and sharing that day Between the 4 of us, there were 6 children and 15 pregnancies, 7 of which were mine. It was painful. Beautifully painful. To share the pain and memories of those experiences with other women, who I did not meet through infertility but who understood my journey all the same.
The other thing I am intrinsically aware of is how, like with any unique circumstance in life, no one can truly understand the pain, grief and trauma of a miscarriage, unless they’ve been there themselves. So often throughout my own journey, friends and family tried to comfort me with well meaning platitudes that hurt more than they helped.
At least you know you can fall pregnant
It’s better you lost the baby now than later
It’s God’s will
Well there must have been something wrong with it
Maybe you’re just not meant to be a mother
The only people who were truly able to offer me comfort were those on the same or similar journey’s to me… back to that secret society…
Somebody also asked me how I recovered? How I got to the point of having peace and letting go of the grief of my journey. I wish I knew how to answer that but I don’t. I don’t know how I recovered and in some ways, I don’t think I will ever recover. There are still moments when memories of those times, will bring me to tears. When I think of the hopes, dreams, aspirations and love I had for every one of my unborn children, I feel like I will buckle under the immense grief still present in my heart, even all these years later.
And perhaps that’s the answer….
We don’t recover, but we learn to live, we learn to find joy (my daughters gave me purpose and a huge amount of healing) outside of our pain. We learn to live with that pain, store it in a tiny little box, locked away in our hearts, to be taken out on occasion, unlocked, kissed, touched, examined and then locked back up and stored away again.
And perhaps that is what makes the spirit of a woman? What gives her her strength, her ability to perhaps buckle but not crumble under the strain of grieving a baby that she will never be?
If you or someone you know is struggling with pregnancy loss, just remind them, that secret society, it’s everywhere, you just have to ask another woman to find it and get all the love, support and encouragement you need.