Today is the tenth anniversary of my first miscarriage. Ten years. An entire decade.
I'm finding it difficult to summarize it all in a blog post. We have lots of anniversaries like these -- six different miscarriage dates and six different unfulfilled due dates to go along with them. But this day in particular always carries so much emotion for me. It was the beginning of everything, the beginning of things I couldn't even imagine were yet to come. It was the end of a lot of things, too. The end of a certain sense of security and innocence that I had back then, at the age of 25. I thought my life was settling down after a difficult childhood with divorced parents and an alcoholic father and having just enough to scrape by. Against all odds I'd finished college and found a wonderful man to marry. We'd moved to a different state to follow a great job opportunity for him, and we'd just bought our first house. Now, I thought, we'll have a baby. Start a family.
Recurrent pregnancy loss was nowhere on my radar. I'm sure it never is for anybody. I'd known a few people who'd had a miscarriage before (my mom, included). But I didn't know anyone personally who had been through it over and over and over again. Not yet, anyway. Or it could have been that I knew them but just never knew their struggle. And I think that's entirely possible because, for some reason, people don't really talk about miscarriage. I went through a time like that myself. It felt like such a personal and private struggle and I became almost reclusive. I stopped wanting to socialize with people because I didn't want to let anyone in for fear they would trivialize what I was going through. I thought they could never understand, so I quit trying. All I kept hearing were things like, "Oh, you're young. It will happen if you just stay positive." "Something must have been wrong with the baby." "At least you know you can get pregnant."
All of those things hurt so much more than they helped. How did anybody know that I would eventually have a healthy baby? Was there any guarantee, really? Was it my fault for not thinking positively enough? What comfort could there be in thinking something was so wrong with my baby? And finally, what good was it doing for me to keep getting pregnant if my babies kept dying? How was that any consolation?
There were so many questions and never seemed to be any answers. Doctors couldn't give me any, and even my prayers seemed to be falling on deaf ears sometimes. I trusted that God had a plan but I had no idea what it was or how long it would take. Years passed and my babies continued to stop growing during the first trimester. We were desperate for help. The next 7 years went by in a blur of doctors, tests, surgeries, waiting, wondering, and most of all, more loss. I thought about giving up; thought it had become more than I could handle. Hope would return, though, and I would think What if the next time is the one? And what if it's the last chance we'll ever get?
Fast forward to 2010. After a new doctor, new tests (although not many new answers), and three years of infertility, the chance finally came. I still don't know exactly what was "right" about that time and what had been so "wrong" about every other time before. All I know is that somehow, miraculously, we held our daughter in our arms for the first time that September. She grew inside my body and arrived healthy and whole. And here I am in 2012, halfway through another pregnancy that is going well, hoping to hold another beautiful, healthy girl in November.
We've come so far and yet the hurt is still there. I still don't know how to answer the question, "Is this your first pregnancy?" A nurse at my doctor's office asked that just last week. She wasn't making small talk; I was there for blood work, another screening test. She was noting something on my chart. I stumbled over my words as I tried to answer, "No, it's not. It's my second. Well, it's actually my eighth pregnancy. But I only have one baby..." She stopped writing and looked up at me. "Oh, bless your heart," she said. I appreciated her kindness, but I hadn't been looking for sympathy. I was just trying to describe it all succinctly.
Sometimes I think I don't know how I got here... but oh, I do know. Simplified in my mind the years look like this:
2002-2007: Loss (x6)
2010-2012: Joy (x2)
But we all know that it's not summarized so easily. Because, broken down, I remember all too clearly the tears, the pain, the sleepless nights, the entire painful journey that led us to here and now. And the joy, too. Thank God for the joy that finally came and will come again!
I look back on the decade with lots of different emotions swirling around. I know this day will always make me remember, because it was the beginning of so much. It was the beginning of a lot of heartache, but it was also the beginning of the miracle that was to come. When I look at it all together, in hindsight, I can see much more clearly just how far we've come, and, amazingly, I can be thankful.