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.