Tag Archives: miscarriage

5 Months After Miscarriage: The Day I Laughed

It’s been 5 months since I had my miscarriage. Surprisingly, I have found myself laughing again. It takes some serious dark humor to laugh in the face of miscarriage. I possess that streak of dark humor. It runs through my veins. It’s part of my genetic code. It’s how I survive.

If you can’t find humor in bad things or if you can’t find humor in the absurdity of miscarriage because it’s too new or too raw stop reading this blog post right now. I understand how you feel. It’s OK. This is just how I deal with my pain and I know it’s not the way many other people deal with things. You don’t have to keep reading. I get it.

I never thought I’d be laughing at my own miscarriage, but there have been moments so awkward and weird that laughter was the only option.

The other day Tiny-Small and I were at the playground. She was playing with two kids. A brother and sister duo of non-stop energy. She was having a blast. The spastic duo were being supervised by their mom who happened to have another baby strapped to her chest. They were an adorable family. Tiny-Small loves moms with babies. She wants a sibling very, very badly. She specifically wants a baby sibling. She’s a four year old child with the kind of baby fever I thought only middle-aged women like myself could possess.

In the middle of playing, Tiny-Small ran right up to the mom with the baby and happily told her, “We are going to get a baby brother soon too!” The mom quickly turned to look at me. Her eyes went straight to my non-pregnant belly. I could tell she was trying to asses how far along I might be, but of course I wasn’t pregnant. Before I could set the record straight Tiny-Small quickly added, “We’ll get a new baby soon. Our old baby died.” I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing while the most awkward moment ensued.

I have no idea what this mom was thinking about what Tiny-Small had just said. Maybe she thought I was a murderer or that our second child had died in an accident, at birth, or of old age. Who calls a baby their “old baby” anyway? I was speechless. Only Tiny-Small because in her four-year-old literal mind you can’t have a new baby without first having an old baby.

I hoped the earth would crack open and swallow me. I didn’t want to to go into great detail about my private life with someone I had just met at the park. I didn’t want to endure the pity and sympathy and stories about other people’s miscarriages that would likely start pouring out of this poor mom the moment I explained the circumstances. I didn’t really feel like talking at all as it was. I just wanted Tiny-Small to run around until she got tired so I could take her home and have a peaceful afternoon.

Still, I felt an obligation to rescue this poor woman. You can’t drop a bomb with the words “dead baby” on someone and just leave them hanging there. So I smiled as reassuringly as possible and said, “She really wants a sibling. She puts more pressure on me than the grandparents do!” Which was just a total lie because the grandparents aren’t putting any pressure on us to procreate, but it sounded sort of benign and normal and I just wanted this whole awkward moment to end.

The other mom, sensing the chance to change the subject to something more pleasant (and likely picking up on my discomfort), latched onto the topic of “the only child” and went to town lecturing me on the benefits of having more than one child. She went on to list all of the reasons only children suffer and how sad they are and then listed all of the wonderful things that happen when you have multiple children. She did complain about the extra work having multiple children caused, but promised that wouldn’t last forever.

I plastered a smile on my face and nodded. I stopped listening to the diatribe against only children because I think it’s all nonsense. I know plenty of “only child” people who grew up to be amazing adults with nice lives, lots of friends, and no problem forming relationships or getting along with others. I didn’t have the energy to argue with her. Mostly I was just relieved I didn’t have to do any of the talking. I was happy that the awkward moment had passed. Before long Tiny-Small ran in the opposite direction and I followed. I felt like I had dodged a bullet.

I still feel a bit of a pang in my heart over the miscarriage, especially for Tiny-Small. She doesn’t want to be an only child, but she very well may be. I wonder how people will judge her because of that. Will they talk about her behind her back and blame everything she does, that they don’t like, on the fact that she is an only child? It makes me angry to think about it. It also makes me sad. We may have another child and we may not. Either way it’s not her fault at all. It’s not really our fault either.

Later that night, as Jim was brushing his teeth before bed, I told him the story of my day at the park. I did it with dramatic flare, acting out all of the parts. As I wrapped it up I paused for a minute and Jim looked up at me. As soon as we made eye contact we both burst out laughing. Neither of us could imagine anything more awkward or absurd than talking about our old, dead baby with a complete stranger at the park while kids went up and down the slide.

This miscarriage still makes us sad and often not in the obvious ways, but sometimes we can see the ridiculousness in our circumstances too. Our human dramas are all comedy and tragedy rolled into one.  This is why, sometimes, I find myself laughing about my miscarriage. Not because I think it’s funny to have a miscarriage, but because it has thrown me into some very strange conversations and moments with other people. Because it’s so awkward and absurd that the only thing left to do is laugh.

I think laughter means that even though we have moments of sadness, in the end we are all going to be just fine whether we are an only child family or not.

Don’t Keep Your Pain A Secret

Don’t keep your pain a secret. From what I have learned by listening to others, it is better to get your pain out into the open. Since Saturday I have received many private messages and emails from women telling me about their miscarriages. Most of them have never told anyone, beyond their closest friends and family members, about their experience. They keep their pain a secret and suffer silently. Many of these women said they wished they had told people about what had happened to them. They said it was difficult to hide their sadness.

Don't Keep Your Pain A Secret
Mixed Media by Lillian Connelly 24×20

I created this painting using acrylic paint, sharpie markers, found papers, and a slice from a book. I didn’t have a plan when I started. I just added some paint and sprayed it with water so it streaked and ran. Once that dried I decided to paint a face. Then I went looking for papers.

I found this book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff For Teens” in a thrift store. It was damaged and in the “free” bin so I picked it up. It has much better advice than the regular “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” series. It’s got practical suggestions for real situations and offers some helpful coping tools too. If the book hadn’t been so damaged I probably would have slid it onto the bookshelf in the hopes that Tiny-Small discovered it one day.

Don't Keep Your Pain A Secret.
The book page.

Instead, it’s been feeding my mixed media ideas and often when I flip through the pages I find the perfect words to accompany one of my pieces. That’s what happened last night: Don’t keep your pain a secret. I couldn’t have bumped into a better sentence if I tried.

Don't Keep Your Pain A Secret.
Close up.

Of course, some things are not really “small stuff” and even the small stuff can feel really big at times. I do know talking about it with caring people is really helpful. If you are in pain for any reason right now, don’t keep it a secret. Find someone to share it with and let go of pretending everything is fine. Pretending not to be sad is too big a burden to bear.

Grief and loss are nothing to be ashamed over. It’s part of life. Pretending otherwise just causes more pain and secrets often do too. If you can’t talk to someone, write. If you can’t write, paint.

Tell your story in whatever language you can. It helps. I promise.

 

Anxiety Keeps Me Busy – The Days After Miscarriage

Anxiety keeps me busy. I’ve been feeling anxious since Saturday. When I get anxious I clean things. So far, I have emptied a closet and turned it into a secret hide-out under the stairs for Tiny-Small.

I have cleaned out and reorganized the refrigerator. I have folded and put away piles and piles of laundry. I have vacuumed all of the furniture. I have deep cleaned the kitchen, including the oven. I have packed up all of the clothes Tiny-Small has outgrown to make space in her closet. I am in the process of moving a bed, a couch, and some chairs…but I am not supposed to lift anything heavy for a few more days so that is sort of in limbo as I wait for Jim to help. I’ve pushed and slid things as far as I could without having to lift them. My house is beginning to resemble a very clean, shiny corn maze.

Anxiety Keeps Me Busy
I can’t wait to read Harry Potter in here with Tiny-Small.

I just don’t stop moving from the moment I get up until I fall into bed exhausted. It’s been the only way I can through the day.

I am getting a lot done, but it’s not reducing my anxiety. I am just moving through it. Running from it. Running, running, running. It’s been difficult. I’ve had to answer questions I just didn’t know how to answer. Tiny-Small wanted to know what had happened to the baby. “Did she get a boo-boo, Mom?” she asked, “Did my baby brother die? My baby isn’t in your belly anymore? Where did she go? Is she in heaven with Cleo and Rosie?” She is just trying to make sense of it all within her limited experience with life, death, and where new babies come from. “Can we go to the baby store and get a new baby, Mom?” she asked once. Now, she just pats my leg and says, “Don’t worry, Mom, we will try to have a new baby later. Then my new baby will have a birthday party and I will be a big sister.” I just nod. Everyone says we can try again. Tiny-Small can still be a big sister.

Anxiety Keeps Me Busy
She hasn’t given up on her dream to be a big sister and this gives me hope about the future.

Yesterday, I spent hours outside in the yard. I cleaned up weeds. I raked, swept, stacked, and finally, I planted. I dug in the dirt. I put flowers and vegetables into the ground. I watered them. I transplanted them. I felt the cool, leafy plant life on my skin. I practically fell asleep standing up last night. All of that physical work and fresh air was like a lullaby.

On some level I know I am trying to punish myself. If I push hard enough my body will feel my disappointment in it. Through hard work and aching muscles my body will redeem itself. If I get everything in order I won’t be a failure. If I just keep moving the pain will sort itself out and I’ll be able to get on with my life. If I keep moving the anxiety won’t cycle into depression. If I fill my mind with dimensions, storage option ideas, and keeping everything running as smoothly as possible I won’t have time to obsess over the what-ifs, or if-only-I-had’s. It’s all a silly distraction fueled by myth and denial, but it’s part of the process I am going through. I have to acknowledge it and let it be. This too shall pass.

I woke up this morning and I felt a little lighter. I didn’t feel so anxious. I could breath. My muscles had loosened up. The tightness in my chest was gone. My first thought was “coffee” and not “I am no longer pregnant.” I could sit with myself and just be a bit. That is progress. Gardening is therapeutic. I wish I had done it sooner, but I wasn’t ready. I had to go through the anxiety first. I think working in the garden allowed me to nurture new life in a way that I’d felt robbed of.  To be part of helping something grow gave me some relief. Maybe I just needed a place to put that energy. It was bouncing around inside me without anything to focus on.

Today I think I will make some time to get back into my art studio too. I feel like I might be able to paint today and painting will, hopefully, be even more therapeutic than gardening. I need a place to put my creative energies. I am still in that mode. I need to create something. Jim does too. When I cleaned out the closet under the stairs he found some memorabilia from his youth. He’s already turning it into a collage. He said it makes him feel better.

I am hoping tomorrow I will wake up feeling a little less anxious than I do today. I just have to allow myself to go through the process.