My story is not unique. Like many women, I lost our baby during the first trimester of what was supposed to be a nine month pregnancy. Medically, my situation was common, routine and even expected. But emotionally, the loss turned my world upside down.
I began to love our baby the moment I saw those pink lines on the pregnancy test. My husband and I were excited to grow our family and give our son a long awaited sibling. We told a couple of close friends about our big announcement, but mostly kept the news to ourselves “just in case.” Unfortunately, the risks of the first trimester became our reality, and our secret that was once exciting suddenly became tragic.
In the months following the miscarriage, I struggled with my grief. I had lost a baby whose life had been just a whisper. How was I supposed to say goodbye to a child I had never met? I had no answers, only impossible questions and doubts.
My husband grieved our loss differently from me, which led to a disconnect between the two of us. He was supportive and caring during this time, but he didn’t fully understand why I mourned our baby so deeply. Through no fault of his own, he hadn’t bonded with our baby in the same way and wasn’t able to fully empathize with me. I felt alone in my loss and unsure of how to move forward.
I tried taming my grief with logic. I reminded myself that miscarriages occur in 10-15% of pregnancies and reasoned that it was easier to lose a baby during the first trimester. I chastised myself for feeling heartbroken when other friends had endured more difficult losses. Most of all, I told myself – and others – that I was fine. I needed to care for my three-year old son, support my husband and learn the intricacies of a job I had just started. I didn’t have time to wallow in my grief.
But as Twin Cities Mom Collective founder Beth Zustiak wrote in her blog post about loss, you can’t run from grief. It will patiently wait for you until you face it head on. Two months after the miscarriage I got shingles, which was my body’s way of telling me that I wasn’t fine. It was time to sit with the feelings I had been afraid to face. A friend’s simple advice rang in my ears: “It’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling.” So I began to embrace the spectrum of my emotions.
I accepted the relief of avoiding the pregnancy conversation with my new employer. I allowed myself to resent pregnant women, to be angry with God, to feel disappointed that my husband and I dealt with the loss differently. I basked in my son’s innocent love and wrestled with the fear that we might not become a family of four. I impatiently longed to get pregnant again while simultaneously dreading the uncertainty of another first trimester.
While I wanted to run from my storm, I needed to learn to dance through the rain. Hard times can either define or refine us, and I wanted the latter. So I searched for the silver lining of my storm clouds. What I found was a strengthened marriage, a deeper love for my children, a more dynamic faith and a newfound appreciation for my cheerleaders. I also discovered the hidden strength inside me and uncovered the depths of my character. But most of all I learned to accept our loss and the role it now played in my story.
Today, I wear a gold bracelet to honor our baby’s short life. Crafted from the gold of my late grandfather’s wedding ring, this epitaph is engraved with a tree of life. The symbol reminds me that seasons of hibernation blossom into times of growth. Like a tree, my roots are a web of interconnected experiences that have shaped me into the woman I am today.
One year after the miscarriage our family was blessed with a baby girl. In the delivery room, I wore my gold bracelet to remind me of my strength and the power of love without boundaries. That day, like so many others since, I held the baby we lost close to my heart knowing that his or her life most certainly had meaning.