I’ve debated about writing this for days. How much should be said on a blog?
But I am reminded that sharing our stories helps us feel less alone. My friend Jen once said to me, “Your honesty frees up little bits in me.” And in the spirit of that, in the hope that maybe this entry will free up little bits in you, I’m going to let you in on a secret.
This week has been one of the hardest I’ve known. I was 2 1/2 months pregnant. (Read: joyous, beaming, dreams come true, feeling blessed beyond belief) and then began to miscarry early last week. The last many days have been spent full of grief, tears, curled up in bed in pain, amazed by all the blood.
Mine was a common type of miscarriage (they say it happens in 1 out of 4 to 5 pregnancies) but our sadness is still overwhelming. No matter how many people this has happened to, it has never happened to us. We have never felt this particular kind of pain.
A friend reminded me of the Jewish tradition of sitting Shiva. When someone dies, the family opens their home for a week and receives visitors. Guests fill their home with beautiful food and conversation and remind the family of how loved and supported they are.
This is a different kind of death, but still requires a grief process. Opening our home and not isolating ourselves during this time has helped us to grieve. We didn’t know we would want to talk about it. We didn’t know we would want to answer the phone. But every call, every note, every lasagna and home-baked cookie has made a difference. Every kindness feels like a tremendous gift, each gesture so potent.
I share this news a bit tentatively, but with the hope that it will serve someone else today or in the future. We are not meant to go through our grief completely alone.
My friend Sara reminded me of a lesson she learned from her teacher named Norman Fischer. As they sat in meditation, he spoke about pain, and the discomfort of sitting for long periods of time. He reminded them to notice not only the pain, but also that there were other sensations present as well. How do the tips of your toes feel? Are they tingly? How does your forehead feel? Are you cool or warm?
Pain has the ability to transform when we are willing to see the whole picture. I have used this metaphor a lot this week. When I was going through intense physical pain, I would remind myself to relax into it and not resist it. I’d think about my toes and the tips of my fingers. When I was feeling emotional pain, I tried to also notice the heat of the sunshine on my face, the gift of cold root beer in my hand, and the joy of a beautiful friend seated in front of me.
There are also moments when we just feel deeply sad.
Matt and I were unsure about whether to keep our pregnancy a secret until the first trimester was over. All of the books seem to suggest this. Our instinct however was to share the good news, to celebrate it, to claim it, and not live from this place of fear. We decided that if something happened, we would want our friends to share in our grief as well as our joy. For us, this proved to be the right path. It helped us heal.
Miscarriage is somehow taboo to discuss in public. Believe me, I understand how private it is, but my heart breaks at the thought of so many women and couples grieving alone, feeling isolated in their pain, not wanting to burden anyone with this news, or not sure if people would understand.
We are all different, but I am grateful that my community grieved along with us. I am grateful we opened our doors and our hearts. I am grateful for the love that poured in. I am grateful to know that we are not alone in this journey. And I know that one day we will celebrate. We will celebrate so hard and so joyously that the world will shake.