Guest Writer Wednesday: Sarah openly grieves her miscarriage
Guest Writer and clinical psychologist, Sarah, shares the raw story of her recent miscarriage. The joys of the new life. The sorrow of a life gone too soon. Every time I read Sarah’s writing, I’m reminded of why I was so effortlessly drawn to her back in grad school. Even though I only knew her for a couple of fleeting years at the University of Iowa, and even though we only stay in contact through social media now, she’s exactly what I look for in a quality friend. Real, open, and self-aware. Sarah - I’m in awe of you yet again. Sarah - you inspire me to dig deeper and be more authentic. Thank you for sharing yourself with me and the Unicorn Community. We are “awake” and “feel all the feelings” during this process with you, as you have invited us to do.
…and then you were gone.
Hey there, it’s me again. I’m Sarah. I wrote a blog post for Kristen’s Unicorn Mission last year, to share the story of my shit-tastic (re: diminished ovarian reserve and failed IVF) infertility journey, which later resulted in a wonderfully unexpected, natural pregnancy and birth of my miracle baby (Greyson) who is now 18 months old. I found the blogging process extremely cathartic. And scary. And vulnerable. Putting your personal stuff out there for the world (okay, hardly the world, but some people) to read is an incredibly vulnerable process. However, the response I received was so fulfilling. We walk around, pass each other by, and have no idea what our acquaintances, co-workers, even friends/family are really enduring. We don’t know their pain, their struggles. When we ask “how are you?,” we expect the canned response, “I’m fine/good, how are you?.” That’s bullshit. Why are we asking if we don’t really care about the response? That’s not connection; that’s pleasantries. And there’s nothing personal or meaningful about it. But THIS, this is personal. This is raw, and vulnerable, and scary. I’d rather walk through life with genuine connections, even those based upon the raw suffering of life, than have superficial relationships with no depth (I’ll save that for social media highlight reels). I can experience your joy so much more intensely when I have also experienced your sorrow. And so I write again. I’m sort of vomiting these words onto the page, as I tend to haphazardly expel my inner dialogue when I write, but this is therapeutic for me. And, if it is somehow helpful for you, I’m glad. My psychologist heart is happy.
And so. I now am the most pregnant infertile person I know. Just 6 short weeks ago, I saw those beautiful pink lines AGAIN. WHAAAAAT?!! Lightning strikes twice?! Another happy, lucky, unexpected miracle baby? Wow. To say that my husband and I were excited, shocked, and feeling on top of the world only begins to describe our emotional reactions. AND, bonus, my sister is just arriving into her second trimester, expecting her first baby! My best friend and 7-years-younger sister; we have talked about how fun it would be to experience pregnancy together, but that didn’t seem to be in the cards. As I was leaving my childbearing journey, she was entering hers, and our paths were likely not going to cross. But, now, OH! She’ll be so thrilled. And our families. I know my husband’s parents are probably assuming they won’t have more grandchildren; they’ll be over the moon! And my parents! To get another grandbaby, and along with my sister’s—think of the fun we will have! Christmas this year will be the BEST. I need to get a new vehicle! I need a third row seater! Our house is too small; we’ll need to upgrade! Wow, so much fun and so much planning. My OB says she’s “cautiously optimistic” after seeing a healthy appearing gestational sac, yolk sac, and embryo measuring right on track on a nearly 6-week ultrasound. We’ll come back next week to see the heart beat; my hCGs are progressing nicely, I’m fatigued and can’t stomach the sight of raw chicken—this is happening! Bliss.
I hesitate in making this decision, but we tell the kids. Everything looks great and they might as well know when our families are informed. At ages 9 and 11, they’re too old for us to talk in code, or spell out words we don’t want them to comprehend; we want to share our joy with them. Our oldest son is unsure (change is tough for him), but he’ll be excited once baby arrives. He ADORES his baby brother. Our daughter is thrilled and immediately tells all of her friends, classmates, teachers, the lunch ladies, the janitor, random strangers… “WE’RE HAVING ANOTHER BABY!” We know what the name will be if it’s a girl, and we (okay, mostly I!) start tossing around some boy names. Pinterest? I’d better start looking at nursery photos…pin all of the ideas…baby stuff is my fav; it’s my crack cocaine and I don’t want treatment for my addiction. We got rid of some of the baby paraphernalia from our youngest; we’ll have to repurchase. I already love my family of six. SIX, wow. That’s a lot of kids! How fortunate are we? Grey will have a sibling close in age; this is going to be the BEST. What a perfect ending to a messy, imperfect fertility journey. We are so, so fortunate. All of the stress, the tears, the anguish…it has all been so worth all of it. Not one, but TWO bonus babies. We know we have hit the proverbial jackpot once again.
Let’s preface the odds of this occurring. I don’t typically win things. The only example that sticks out in my mind is two-time, back-to-back coloring contest victories at age 6. Not to brag, but my coloring skills were advanced—I was outlining like a pro and those judges at the local ShopKo recognized my burgeoning talent with a Crayola. I deserved those prizes, and though I only recall one of my winnings, the sweet Popple that I received was a plush reminder of my impressive talent for coloring within the lines. This positive pregnancy test was like my second coloring contest victory—unlikely and nearly unheard of for a girl with a limited supply of (presumably) crappy eggs. I’d won my Popple all over again, and it felt like Christmas and winning the lottery for a second time. I was bursting to tell our families. Popples for everyone!
And then. There’s spotting, and bleeding, and some cramping. OH NO. This doesn’t feel right. Something is wrong. I don’t want to panic my husband, who is “ecstatic” as he describes…and ready to make it Facebook official as soon as I’ll allow it. He wants to tell the world our wonderful news! I do tell my mom. My mom, who has been there for every twist, turn, up, down and crash we’ve experienced during our infertility yuckiness. She tries to mask her concerned face, but I know she won’t sleep soundly until I call with the news that we saw and heard that reassuring, life-affirming heartbeat. Tomorrow is the day we return for an ultrasound; I will call as soon as I can. My sister partially knows my worries. I don’t want to cast a shadow on her pregnancy joy. She’s radiant and she’s having a wonderfully unremarkable, healthy pregnancy and it’s everything I want for her. I don’t want to tarnish that experience. I want to protect my baby sister from being a part of the pain she experienced alongside me during the infertility nightmare.
As soon as the image of my uterus pops up on the screen, I know. I mutter, “oh, shiiiiiit” to myself as I hold my breath. There’s the gestational sac, the perfectly round yolk sac, and nothing else. Then, you were gone. The tech quickly takes measurements and follows her protocol to get what she needs for the doc’s review. She hurriedly exits the room as I fall apart in my husband’s arms. Grey is with us for this ultrasound. He senses that his mom is hurting; he hugs me and his daddy and we cry together as we process our loss. The loss of that little soul whom we had already dreamed of meeting. Another little miracle that we definitely did not envision adding to our family, but were so thrilled to embrace. I didn’t let myself be greedy enough to really wish for another miracle. We’d already gotten one, and were enjoying that experience immensely. I never got to see your beating heart, or see your little arms and legs fluttering on the ultrasound screen. I didn’t get to feel you move inside of me, to connect with you physically, in that tangible and wondrous way that pregnancy allows. But I loved you. I had dreams for you and you brought fresh hope into my life where I didn’t think it existed. I thank you for that, sweet baby. I don’t yet know why this has happened, but I still believe that everything happens for a reason. To bring a lesson into our lives, to help us appreciate what we have, to hold our babies tighter and cherish our gifts more deeply.
I don’t want to shuffle along in a fog any longer, pretending that you didn’t exist. You did exist, and you meant something to us. Concealing your short existence in our lives isn’t pleasantries, it isn’t good manners or some societal norm that we should uphold. It’s false; it’s unauthentic, and I won’t do it for anyone else’s comfort. I’m sad, I’m grieving, and I’m not okay right now. Pretending otherwise would be a disservice to myself and anyone else who has experienced something similar. I see your pain, your anguish. You’re not alone. There’s nothing that can be said to mend a broken heart, but a hug or “I’m sorry” or “I’m here for you” is connection, is healing. And I, for one, need that human connection as I walk along the unpredictable road in this journey called “life.” I want to be awake, and to feel all the feelings, and I invite you to join me. Come as you are. It’s a beautiful ride, isn’t it?
Sarah is a midwestern girl who loves traveling to new places and is finding her 30s to be her most insightful decade of self-discovery yet. Her behavioral intuition is as strong as her geographical sense of direction is poor. Sarah welcomes the benefits that accompany age and experience as pathways to continually improve her professional skills within her field of psychology. She loves a good brunch almost as much as she loves her adoring husband and three children, and can be found shamelessly boutique shopping for clothes she doesn't need. Sarah is honored to be a part of the unicorn mission while learning about the broad experiences of its inspiring community.