I was undergoing fertility treatment about a year after losing Alice.
remembered that, in those early days, when the pregnancy was new and
already announced to anyone in hearing distance, I'd said silly things
about how I didn't understand how people could have such trouble
conceiving; it had been as easy as falling off a log. I remembered being
blind to the prevalence of miscarriage; I thought it was rare. And so
of course, when the pregnancy failed to progress past week 6, I was
ashamed of my pride, my hubris, and angry at myself for not being able
to do this thing that Everyone Else did so easily.
I was talking
to a friend who'd gone through fertility treatment (successfully), about
my worries, my sadness, the days I couldn't focus on anything else for
missing the child I thought I'd have, and wanting to hold one in my
arms. Only mine; I couldn't look at other babies, couldn't walk by
pregnant women without a visceral reaction. I'd made it all the way to
the door of a friend's baby shower and then fled. I went to children's
birthday parties and play performances and thought about what Alice was
missing, how she'd never have a first anything. I cried a lot in those
days, at my desk, and my sweet office mate was kind enough not to
I didn't, until my miscarriage, know how many people I
was surrounded by had been through this. It is a secret sisterhood that
suddenly welcomes you with empathetic arms. Ten. I know of ten women in
my immediate circle who have suffered pregnancy loss. I had thought it
was two, at the time. The actual estimates are that between 20 and 25%
of pregnancies don't result in live birth. There are more of you out
there; please know you are not alone.
"You think that this will make you a perfect mom, but you are still human, you will still make mistakes."
was still haughty about things I didn't know, even sitting there,
talking to someone who'd been through all that I had (and more,
honestly; much more); I thought she was crazy. I'd promised myself I'd
be the perfect mom, that I would deserve a child, should I get lucky
enough to have one. I would do everything right. I believed I had
somehow deserved to lose Alice, that I hadn't wanted her badly enough,
or that I was being punished for the stupid things I'd said.
inside me, my whole life, a little egg that would be my son was laying
in wait, tiny as a dot. In fact, in those first secret months, we called
him Umlaut. I was four months pregnant before we told anyone he existed
because I was so afraid if I said it out loud, he wouldn't anymore.
not a perfect mom. I make mistakes like everyone else. Some days, I
don't even know the right thing to do, and I worry that some mistake I
make is going to ruin my son. Some truths you learn through experience; I
am still human. Here are two more: I neither deserved to lose my first
pregnancy, nor earned my second through guilt or repentance.
I know how to love, I have learnt it from the strangest moments, unexpectedly. I am imperfect at it, but I keep learning.
who have lost your little ones, you are not alone. You who are trying
to conceive, you have friends here. Feel what you feel, as long as you
need. And then find a way to keep going.
And those who
have finally welcomed a little one into your home, remember, it's a
marathon, not a sprint; birth is a beginning, not the finish line. Be
easy on yourself those moments you don't live up to your expectations,
and be easy on your children those moments they are imperfect, too.
You're learning how to love a whole new way. You can do this.