During my first session with my grief counselor, she asked me to start thinking about what my losses mean to me. Initially, I was a bit puzzled. It seemed so obvious—I had lost three pregnancies, and my hopes, dreams, and plans for three children. I lost three babies that were so badly wanted—three babies that I would never hold in my arms.
Even this first conclusion may seem incomprehensible, and even a little overly dramatic to anyone who has not known the tragedy of miscarriage. I believe that my experiences are similar to those of other women who have lost pregnancies, but of course, I am only writing from my own perspective. What I can say is that from the first moment I knew I was pregnant, there was an attachment to the life growing inside of me. In that instant, my life changed forever. Not only was I thinking of how the pregnancy was affecting my life in the present, but every single thought about the future took into consideration that there was a baby growing in my body, that I would be a parent in 9 months. In fact, in some ways, I already felt like a parent. And that was with an unplanned pregnancy.
I hadn’t thought too much about having kids until I became pregnant for the first time. I feel it’s safe to say that I devoted much more time and energy thinking about how to not become pregnant. I knew that I wanted kids some day, but that’s about as far as I had gotten. After my first pregnancy and miscarriage, having a child was almost a preoccupation. Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t rushing out to get pregnant again right away, but the desire for a baby never left, not for a second.
With my second and third pregnancies, I had been experiencing serious babylust for over 3 years. John and I were married, and we decided to have kids sooner rather than later. I bought lots of books, eager to learn how to prepare my body and spirit for pregnancy and motherhood. I started charting my cycles. I had a private lesson with my yoga teacher to develop a practice that would provide strength for the tremendous feat ahead. I ate organically and avoided mercury-loaded fish. John and I talked about childcare and if one of us could stay home. We got a little more serious about paying off our debt. I thought about whether or not to buy any new clothes for the upcoming season, wondering if they would still fit. The list goes on and on…Add all of that planning to the love, anticipation, and focus that I described experiencing with my first pregnancy, and I hope you can understand the attachment to, and therefore devastation by the loss of my second and third pregnancies.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been journaling about what I wrote above, about what I immediately identified with when my therapist asked me to think about my losses. I was a bit surprised when several other realizations came to the surface. Here are a few of them:
I feel like I have lost confidence in my body. At times I feel like my body has failed me. I have realized how much of my sense of womanhood has been defined by the anticipation and expectation that I would give birth and be a mother. I wonder if I will ever be able to carry and deliver my own healthy child, if I will ever be able to breastfeed my baby.
I feel like I will never be able to enjoy pregnancy—that every moment of a future pregnancy will be filled with panic and worry, and that I’ll never be able to experience the joyful anticipation of my child. While I want to be pregnant again and have a baby, I’m terrified of the anxiety I know I will experience.
I feel like I have completely lost control of my body, of my life, of what lies ahead. I feel like what I had envisioned for John and myself in the near and distant future has been completely derailed. I feel like I have to start making plans all over again. (On a side note, I am aware that I never really had control over any of these things in the first place—I just felt like I did.)
I used to feel certain that things happen for a reason. Sometimes I still do. But recently, I’ve begun to wonder if we just find these reasons to reassure ourselves that the pain and sadness we all experience isn’t for nothing. Either way, I know that there are lessons in all of these losses. I will find new ways and reasons to love myself and to feel confident about who I am. I will find new ways to define myself. I will dream, make more plans, and discover new passions. I will be a mother one way or another.