I had a miscarriage last week. I can’t believe how little we talk about pregnancy loss, how common a mourning it is, and how little a person can know about miscarriage as they’re going through it. The devastation of having a wanted pregnancy come to an abrupt end is intense enough without the fear of not knowing what to expect physically.
These have been the hardest weeks, as I bled in bed, imagining the worst. I’ve kept sane by mending all of the socks I own (no joke, all of them). I parented terribly. I stopped going to work. And yet, I can’t imagine what this experience would have been like if I didn’t have two vaginal births under my belt. Births that equipped me with a very intimate understanding of what my body is capable of doing, and of expelling. If I didn’t have knowledge of labour pains and how to ease pains that feel like them. If I hadn’t had the good fortune of having two midwife assisted births where placentas were celebrated, where I learned to be in awe of what my body could craft—including this gloopy, bloody organ. And if I didn’t have a solid dozen women friends, who held space for me via the web (oh pandemic), mourning with me, checking in, sending solace and dropping off food and books.
I have the extreme good fortune of having two healthy, inquisitive and empathetic children, of being in a moment in time where my relationship with my partner is at its strongest (10 years in), and of being able to forgo employment income and wait this all out. Not everyone has so favorable a context.
To grieve and to start breaking down this silence around pregnancy loss, it was empowering to explain to my 5 and 8 year olds what I was going through. To see their faces light up at the news of the pregnancy and to see them sad and hesitant, trying to make sense of what this meant. Liberating too to answer so many questions, to explain/re-explain condoms, contraception and intercourse and tell these sweet souls that quite often grown-ups have sex for pleasure, and not at all to make babies, that there are different ways to conceive, and that when grown-ups have intercourse, all parties need to have fun. To do away with the secrecy, the discomfort, the awkwardness that limits how empowered, knowledgeable, kind and safe we are in terms of our sexual health, our bodies and reproduction. And we did this knowing that a kid’s opening line later that day on the phone was going to be “Allô! Ma maman fait une fausse couche.” (Won’t lie, it’s a moment where I wished our personal landline and our business phone number weren’t one and the same).
On that note, the highlight of the week was hands down getting a call from my youngest’s teacher as we were driving to the hospital, saying that my sweet, timid boychild raised his hand during a cop’s school presentation about stranger danger (here are good alternatives to that tired, old framing) to say with sadness “ma maman a fait une fausse couche hier soir.” Bless you, beautiful children, for processing, for showing grown-ups how to be vulnerable, and for smashing down the wall of silence and shame that surrounds these experiences. May you be better equipped than I if/when the time comes for you to support people you love through this heartbreak.
I process hard things by reading. If you have any book titles to share, books that have helped you grieve–whether nonfiction or collections of poetry, please send them my way.