Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Five Little Words

"How far along were you?" You get this question a lot when you have a miscarriage. It's usually the first thing someone will ask and I don't think it's asked with any hurtful intentions. But last January, when I was going through a long and drawn out miscarriage, with ups and downs, positive days where hope prevailed interspersed with blood tests and ultrasounds, mood swings and private pain that ultimately ended in the death of our unborn child, those five little words ended up changing the course of my life. You see, for some reason, I interpreted that question to mean that if I wasn't "far enough along" in someone's eyes, then my pain shouldn't be as real. That the shorter the pregnancy, the less I should have felt its loss. In the grand scheme of how long a pregnancy is, we weren't very far along. We hadn't really told anyone. But here was this little life inside me, with a potential birthday looming and all the preparations and joys of expecting and waiting for him or her were already very prevalent in my mind. And that life was cut short. I never got to meet my second child. And for some reason, I felt like I wasn't allowed to dwell on it, that I needed to just put my chin up and keep going. So that's what I tried to do.

18 months have gone by since that final blood test that confirmed that everything was finished. Every day I think about those words that different people spoke to me, I know, out of care for me, just wanting to know my story. But even now, I still feel angry with myself when I experience pain over this. Even now, I still don't feel like I ever let myself grieve, like I never had the right to really be upset about it. I'm still waiting to experience a whole day where thoughts about that child don't enter my mind. And each month that goes by where there's not that promise of another child is just one more painful reminder of that loss and the fact that I never really dealt with it.

I've never been the most open person, never particularly great at letting people love me. This blog has been one big lesson for me in openness, in taking risks relationally, albeit through the written word. Since the first day I started blogging, I've wondered if I'd ever feel freed up enough to post a blog on this topic. It's felt way too risky, felt like something I wasn't allowed to share, something I should be "over." But the bottom line is, I'm not. I didn't grieve well when I should have and so all these months later, I'm still unsure how I feel about the whole thing. I still don't have closure. I barely even shared the experience with people I knew loved me and probably would've let me cry had I let them love me.

The bigger question that I've been pondering, though, is why I interpreted that one question so destructively. Why I took gentle questioning for accusatory denial. "Get over this quick, you weren't far along! It's not a big deal!" No one actually said those things to me and yet that was what my mind heard. It heard not love and care for me but scarcity, disdain and impatience. Maybe that's what I feel for myself when I experience something I'd put in the category of "drama." I've always been vastly impatient with the dramatic, which is one reason I can't watch even 30 seconds of reality tv before becoming either overwhelmingly angry or having the almost irresistible urge to live somewhere where television doesn't exist. I disdain it, I get frustrated with it, I revere rationality and even-headedness. I don't want to get worked up about much, to dwell on pain or anger, to really feel much of anything if you really get down to it.

So what do I do? Where do you go when you were supposed to talk through something almost two years ago but that still feels like fresh pain? And how do you do it when the last thing you want to do is actually do it? When you still feel like you shouldn't be feeling what you're feeling.

I have no answers tonight, just questions. Five little words that have left me with gaping holes in how I understand healing. One question that has come back to me each and every day for months on end. The only thing that has been sure as I've continually returned to this is that I am not alone. There were times in this last year where I wondered where God really was, why things like this happen and why I was so unprepared to deal with it. The only answer I've really gotten in the midst of it all is that He is with me. No deeply theological and profoundly comforting statements on suffering, no answers to the why. Just a very gentle reminder that I am loved deeply by Him.

For now, I will have to let that be enough.


  1. I don't have any answers, but as your friend I am so sorry that this happened and that you are hurting. I will admit that I have let fear, caution and a desire not to make others have to deal with my mess, keep me quiet so that I reallly haven't been willing to blog or talk that much about what's been going on with us either. I really admire your courage for being open. I will say that seeing a counselor through the last year has helped me a lot. If your schedule permits, it might we worth finding a professional you trust.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Carolyn. It was probably difficult, but I have found that there is something healing about sharing. That's one reason why my blog has been so healing for me - I can share with the world, whether they want to hear it or not and I honestly don't even mind whether people even read. I'm certainly no grief expert, but it sounds like you have made a good first step in just acknowledging that the pain is still there from your loss. I truly believe that miscarriage and infant loss is one of the most misunderstood types of losses and it's sad that we often feel so alone in it, but like you said, you aren't alone. The Lord IS with you and greives with you too. I'll pray that the Lord continues to pour out his grace and you will feel the freedom to grieve in whatever way you feel is necessary. We love you lots and pray for you often! Love, Sarah