miscarriage is alright.

"Didn't you feel like this was inevitable though?"
"No. What do you mean?"
"I just had the feeling, since we went to Chicago, that this was going to happen."
"Why didn't you say anything to me about it?!"
"I didn't want to be that negative voice bringing you down."

I don't remember what my response was, but I certainly remember feeling like my best friend (at the time), Jon, had truly done me a disservice by not being open with me. We were discussing my miscarriage that just happened days before. I was 11.5 weeks- days away from finishing my first trimester. In my tenth-ish week, Jon, Marc and I had taken a quick trip from Toronto back to my hometown outside of Chicago. While we were there, we gathered with a pretty large group of close friends and family who inevitably found out about my pregnancy. It is one of those conundrums that plagues you when you don't live near all of the people you love: You have the opportunity to let them know big news in person and you roll with it, even though there are risks involved. During that weekend, every time I made mention of the fact that I was not through the first trimester and could, of course, miscarry, I was shut down. Every time I asked my friends and family not to get too excited, I was told that I was being negative. I was told not to look at things so pragmatically. I should be excited. I don't hold this sentiment against these people- they were ecstatic and wanted to be excited for Marc and I. It is good advice for life in general- look on the bright side. But, the irony of the situation was that, essentially in the week leading up to the miscarriage, I truly emotionally invested myself in the pregnancy. Then I started bleeding.

I grieved harder because I let my guard down. But, Marc and I were not alone in mourning our loss. It was a loss of an idea more than anything. And through that trip, we had inadvertently created a large network of support for ourselves to lean on while we experienced our sorrow. The support helped us get through the grief.

The other part that helped was how I felt during the miscarriage:
I opted to have a "natural" miscarriage, which involved about twelve hours of significant pain and physical submission to my uterus as it rid itself of the growth it had hosted. I could have stayed in the hospital and had them take it out for me, but it wasn't what I wanted at the time. As I laid on an old mattress on the floor of our bedroom, uncontrollably crying out from the pain for hours, the only thought that kept running through my mind, over and over, was "this is preparation." My mind was so separate from my body, the words were so soothing... the source of it was clearly outside of me because I was turmoil. During the miscarriage itself, I had perspective on the experience like nothing before in my life. I understood the true purpose of what was going on at an incredibly deep level. It is one of the events in my life that I look to now as confirmation of the God I believe in. Of course I couldn't hold on long to that perspective afterwards. Marc and I grieved the loss of our plans for the future pretty hard. I think the worst part was the months after it though. They were filled with waiting to find out if we would have to go through another one.

Now my perspective on miscarriage is very interesting. Having gone through one, I researched them to an unhealthy degree. The doctors tell you that you didn't do anything wrong and you couldn't have changed the outcome, but they don't explain why and you don't really believe them anyway. I believe them now. I touched on the science in my What makes human life? post. When you read about miscarriage, you find out that it happens a lot. A lot of women you know have had a miscarriage, but you probably can't name most of them. Miscarriage happens so frequently, that the general advice from society about how to reveal your pregnancy is "Don't tell anyone you are pregnant until you've past those first 12 weeks." But it's this encouraged secrecy that makes people, like Marc and I, feel like they have failed and are alone.

People who have miscarriages don't normally talk about it with other people. Marc and I say that is CRAP because we felt alone and we don't want that to happen for other people. We are so open with the people in our lives, that even if they didn't ever know we were pregnant that first time, they know now and they know how it ended. We're not shy about it- even though it is an awkward thing to talk about for other people. They don't know how to respond. But when we talk about it, we give it the reverence that a transformative life experience like it deserves and make it clear we never felt like our world was coming to an end. It is a discussion that has helped other people and never hurt anyone. Miscarriage is a big deal to the people going through it at the time, but it shouldn't be something remarkable to any one else because it is incredibly common. It should be considered part and parcel in the course of a thing called pregnancy. Like how sometimes, in baseball, a batter strikes out. Sucks for the batter, but it isn't headline news the next morning.

So I'm in my ninth week of the third pregnancy of my life. I am sick and exhausted a lot of the time. My morning-sickness, or baby-sick as I like to call it, hits me in the middle of the night. Right when I can't sleep. The hormones in my brain are making my impulsive thoughts pretty hilarious. And basically every acquaintance I have here in Denmark now knows I am pregnant. We let people congratulate us. We tell everyone it is early, and we tell everyone if things don't work out, Marc and I will be alright. We know this because we have been through the experience. But, I dream of a society where people know they will be alright if they ever experience a miscarriage because of the other people that have lived through it and freely shared their experiences. A society where miscarriage isn't whispered about, but discussed honestly. People's eyes shouldn't bug out when someone admits to having a miscarriage- seriously, that is the most common reaction I see. While miscarriage is a devastating experience, it is also a beautiful part of life. An awe inspiring symptom of the complex design called human.

Telling people to keep their joy about their pregnancy to themselves because it might turn into tragedy is backwards. It hurts the people who end up experiencing tragedy, it isolates them. For what purpose? It doesn't make experiencing a miscarriage any easier, it just allows everyone else to stay ignorant of a reality and not be inconvenienced with something "sad to hear".

If I miscarry in this pregnancy, I will grieve, I will write, and I will let everyone know when we are alright.

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