Unlike all my other “how do you do it’s”, this one doesn’t fit into a nice, neat list filled with pretty photos.
No, healing from a miscarriage is messy. It’s sad. It’s hard. It’s life-changing.
I have the privilege of knowing some strong women who have not only suffered miscarriage, but stillbirth, infant death and child loss. While each of us has grieved differently and our losses were at different stages of the cycle of life, we have one thing in common: the child we loved, dreamed about, hoped for and made plans for, no longer resides on Earth.
That is a harsh reality.
This week is the eleventh anniversary of my miscarriage. Yes, I still remember hearing the news. Seeing no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I remember the kind and loving eyes of my OB/GYN as he shared what had happened. A blighted ovum, he said. In fact, just last year I wrote a note of gratitude to Dr. T during Lent. How honored and surprised I was to receive not only a response, but he shared his same honest, funny, forthright words of wisdom I came to love so much about him.
Like the NICU, there is a miscarriage club in which no one wants to be a member. It’s the sorority you never want to rush, but they initiate you anyway. I know, with that kind of crummy rushing, you’d think their numbers would be low.
Initially, I found healing in crying. A lot.
I also avoided going to Mass. Do you know how many pregnant women you see when you walk in those doors? Like, a bazillion. In fact, there were quite a few Masses where I started in the pew, only to find myself in the narthex nearly hyperventilating after spotting “the belly” I longed to have on another woman.
The first thing we did, after crying a river, was to call our two priests. One cried on the couch with us, God bless him. That was hard. And you know what our healing activity was with the other? We watched ER. Yes, in the midst of all that loss and pain and suffering, we turned to the one show that we all loved. And we laughed, a little. We drank a glass of wine and we shared some hugs. For me, that ordinary activity was incredibly healing. It began to set in my heart that life was not over, that normal would someday return (although in a different way) and that laughter after tragedy was okay. Because sometimes we think it isn’t. But it SO is.
The next day, we met that same priest in his office for a blessing. That too, was healing.
But I have to come clean. All that crying on the couch, ER watching and priestly blessing sound nice, but I was really angry. I just didn’t know it.
A week after my miscarriage, Scott headed off to a men’s retreat, Cursillo. I was super frustrated with him, but I put on my game face and sent him off. He came back happy and that made me even more pissed off. (sorry, honesty) Two weeks later it was my turn. I put on a good show. Smoke and mirrors. That is, until it came time for confession. I did everything I could to avoid it. I let everyone ahead of me go. “Oh, she’s so kind,” I heard one whisper. I almost snorted out my Dr Pepper. If she only knew.
After fessing up to the usual, I tried to blurt out the miscarriage and then pray that he moved on. But he didn’t. “How does that make you feel toward God?” Before I could even catch my reply, the words came out in a torrent. I’m fairly certain the priest wishes he had never asked, because holy smokes, did he get an ear full. “It makes me angry. Like really angry.”
Without a hint of hesitation, he replied, “It’s ok, I’m pretty sure God can take it. Feel free to get as angry as you want.”
And, that, my friends changed my relationship with God, my husband and my fellow mommas who suffered loss.
I had never given myself permission to be angry. I wrongly assumed that good, Christian girls just take the pain, carry the martyr cross and just move on. I mean, how dare we actually show God how we really feel.
After all these years, the most beautiful lesson my miscarriage taught me was to have a real, open, honest, ugly, beautiful relationship with God. Because in authenticity, we find understanding, healing and love. Like it or not, God gets all of me. I’m so grateful my sweet baby, Mary, left that as her parting lesson. She is never far from my thoughts and her lesson is a constant reminder to be authentic, to be loving and to be generous with those I love.
If you’ve suffered a loss, know that you have a prayer buddy in me. I also highly recommend the book, From Sorrow to Serenity by Susan Fletcher.