Nobody tells you how devastated you are going to feel.
Your experience is one of joy, of knowing that you will bring a product of love into the world. The pregnancy is a combination of all that’s good about you and the one who made you feel the need to offer yourself as a vessel for that love. Oh, it feels right. You’ve made the best possible decision you have ever made, and it’s growing inside you. The love you feel for your man, the union you have and the child you’ve made together – it is bliss, magnified times ten. At least, it was for me.
You feel giddiness and a depth of emotion like no other in the beautiful moments of planning your future together, and in sharing your expectations with each other. All smiles, so much love, you feel like you’ll just burst with excitement. Wanting to experience every moment, but longing for the time to speed up so that your dreams can finally manifest. Everything you feel, you think and what you know in those precious moments before the dreams are realized is that everything is positive and the experiences are all good. Even the not-so-good moments because the end game is you’ll have produced the child you have pictured in your mind and carried in your heart.
My period was notoriously predictable. The pregnancy test I’d done only three days after being late confirmed I was right about my physical state. We were pregnant, and we were so happy! I wasn’t very far along, maybe six to eight weeks pregnant when the bleeding started. My imagination, of course, took me to the worst possible outcome. And I was right. I usually enjoy being right, but this killed me.
No one is ever prepared to have their dreams challenged. It takes your breath away to go from a deeply involved state of happiness to feeling utter emptiness; one that seems to preclude resolution.
When I received confirmation that I wasn’t pregnant anymore, the ache of feeling so alone without the little person who filled all those visions of my future made my insides feel raw. My thoughts were tinged with so many emotions. I had feelings of inadequacy and guilt about letting my partner down. Where would we go from here knowing what we had already invested emotionally and mentally, was not to be? How would we, as a couple, previously filled with so much joy at the prospect of bringing our child into this world be able to relate to one another again? Especially, when I, the person whose primary responsibility it was to bring that child into the world, had just lost it. The guilt and the inability to forgive myself about the loss was so wounding for me.
I sat with this information and all the emotions that went with it for a bit before I made the phone call to my partner. Sobbing, yelling, beating the bed with my fists as well as silent tears in between during the lulls of emotion that were wracking my body; I felt suspended in an impenetrable bubble of feelings. Time passed, emotions eased up a bit, and I realized that it wasn’t just about me in this life-altering event. I needed to call my partner to let him know about the change in our reality.
Not having fully worked through all that goes with this devastating news, I think I did the best I could during that phone call. I thought I was brave and had pulled myself together. I wasn’t and hadn’t, not really. After hanging up the phone, I went back into the isolation and emptiness that I had been experiencing after I got the call from the doctor. The sobbing resumed.
Instinctively, I just did the next thing I had to do in my normal routine of the day – I got in the shower. My tears flowed out of me joining the stream of water from the shower head. I could only heave as sadness hit while the water ran over me. It’s as if the stream washing down my body kept me connected to being alive, but in my head though, nothing felt real. I only felt a gnawing sense of being alone, where before I felt like two and we were a part of something bigger.
What I didn’t know or even thought of was that my partner would understand. And forgive, though forgiveness is not what was required. While I stood in the shower, he came home to console the woman he loved. He instinctively knew what I was going through, he understood how I would feel, and he came home to help make it all better. His hurt couldn’t and wouldn’t stop him from recognizing how it would impact me and what I needed to get past it. That day I learned how much he loved me and what my happiness meant to him. That love is what got us through that day as well as other emotional upheavals in our lives together. I love that man for what he saw in me that needed attention, and for the strength, he gave me then; what he continues to see and contribute to my well-being is comfort and something I can count on. His care and nurture helped set me up for success in handling all the other hurdles we have endured in our lives. He helped me realize our relationship, its strength, was the something bigger part of my life, too; just like our child would have been. A baby is a wonderful part of it, but not the only part. Yes, there is a loss, but we had a foundation that is just as important to preserve.
When I look back on that moment we lost our first baby, it feels like a distant memory now, but one that still evokes incredible emotions. Tears fill my eyes as I write this. The pain I (we) endured was heart-breaking, but it created a bond with my partner in ways that I never thought, even in that moment, would cement our relationship as it did. Time, distance from the event and life experiences have taught me to be very thankful for that. That bond filled the emptiness the loss created; his love helped heal the injury I experienced to my psyche.
Mourning the loss of my unborn child was such a powerful emotion for me; the pain cut deep, but I learned an incredible amount about my relationship and its value. I can’t imagine what parents go through after the loss of a child they’ve had born to them and watched grow, but I think I can understand the ache of emptiness they would feel. I hope they have someone or people in their lives that show them a love that fills that space; open and raw becomes healed and soothed. Going on in life and thriving becomes a possibility then.
I’m an example of that.
*originally published at Reconceiving Loss, presented here with minor edits