Three years ago, about this time, I became pregnant. I miscarried the last week of March that year. I was astonished by the grief of it.
Astonished because pregnancy, even intentional pregnancy, fills me with dread. It’s venturing into the known territory of nausea and pain and fatigue. I know what it means to give birth, and after my first child I have always been scared. I expected to be relieved that I did not have to be pregnant, or deal with a newborn and the ensuing chaos. Maybe I might feel a little guilty over this relief, but mostly I would be relieved.
And maybe some miscarriages are like that for some women; I want to be clear that this is my experience, not yours, and if you felt relieved when you miscarried, for whatever reason, I’m not intending to guilt trip you. It’s okay. Miscarrying is a deeply personal experience, and however you went through it or processed it, it’s okay.
For me, though, I mourned. I wanted that baby at a deeper level than I had ever suspected. I felt cheated, robbed, bereft; I found comfort in the kindness of other women, many of whom had also miscarried and knew my pain.
In between that miscarriage and now, I had a baby. That helped me heal more than anything. And now I’m pregnant again, twenty-seven weeks along. I wrote a while ago about this being a surprise pregnancy, and how I’ve been working to get past my dread.
Deeper than the dread, though, when I discovered I was pregnant, was this certain knowledge: I did not want anything to happen to this baby.
Perhaps if I had not miscarried before I might have fantasized about losing this one, about how this baby might disappear, and I could get back the life I had planned for this year. But I knew, by my own experience, that I did not want to lose another baby. There are far worse things than being surprised by two blue lines on a plastic stick. It’s worse to stare at the ultrasound screen and see no flashing heart; it’s worse to know that your bleeding now used to be your baby’s home.
The memory of my miscarriage has been, in a strange way, a kind of comfort to me: I know that I do want this baby, that when I pray for him to arrive safely I mean it. Jennie wrote about what she’s learned from her trials a little while ago, and I thought immediately of this. From miscarrying I have learned not only empathy for other women, but also the truth that I am more of a mother at heart than I ever suspected, because the thought of losing my surprise baby, of his being hurt in any way, fills me with much more dread than all my fears about having him.
And maybe that is not the kind of enthusiasm I ought to have, but it sustained me through those early nausea-filled weeks. Now I can feel him kick, which is the best part of being pregnant. I am glad he’s all right. And though I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone, I am grateful for what it taught me.