Last night I had a dream that I was pregnant.
My baby was born with complications and did not live long after birth.
In the dream the mourning process was so intense, I was sure it was actually happening to me. You know those dreams where something in your mind keeps saying, “This is just a dream. It’s not really happening. Wake up.” I had that somewhere in the background, but it didn’t matter. The pain felt real.
I was so sad and no matter what anyone said or did, it wasn’t helpful or comforting.
In 2005 I experienced a traumatic miscarriage. One that could have taken my life.
I remember the look on the tech’s face while staring at the monitor. It went from relaxed to furrowed. I said, “What’s wrong?”
There was silence followed by her reply, “Let me get the doctor. I’ll be right back.”
“Why? What do you see?” I begged.
“I’ll be right back.” she responded.
It’s amazing how quickly, pure unadulterated joy can turn into confusion and emotional chaos.
You can guess what happened next…the doctor came in to say that there was no heartbeat and it was no longer a viable pregnancy.
I watched her mouth move, not really hearing a word she said.
“I don’t understand?” I said.
“These things happen all the time.” she answered.
“Not to me, they don’t! This has never happened to me!” I screamed almost in a whisper.
“You’ll get pregnant again. Don’t worry.” she said as she patted my knee.
She then explained the procedure they would need to do to remove all the tissue that made up my “nonviable” pregnancy.
We walked to the checkout counter and scheduled the appointment for the next week.
That was a Friday and the appointment was the next Tuesday.
“What happens between now and then?” I asked.
“Maybe nothing…or your body may decide to start the process on it’s own.” she responded. “Either way, we will need to perform the procedure to ensure safety for you and future pregnancies.”
We walked through the door marked exit.
For the next little while her words played over and over in my mind.
“These things happen all the time…You’ll get pregnant again, don’t worry.”
It was surprising and upsetting to me how quickly this life was dismissed. Though present only for a short time in my womb, surely it deserved a little more acknowledgement?
Is it okay for me to be sad?
Is it silly of me to cry and feel like I’m losing my baby?
Is it ridiculous that I cannot even think about getting pregnant again while I’m still sorting out the details of restoring my body to normalcy after this miscarriage?
The next few days played out like a movie.
I began cramping at work, knew something was wrong, left work and drove home. By then I was hemorrhaging. I had never seen so much blood.
Chris was on his way home to take me to the ER.
I remember the nurse on the phone saying, “Stay with me until he gets there.”
She said an ambulance would take just as long, maybe longer by the time they found the house so it was better to wait on Chris. I remember asking her if I was going to die. She said, “Not if you get to the ER in time.”
I did get to the ER in time.
I didn’t die.
I went on to have beautiful, healthy, children.
When you ask me why I take pictures of families experiencing the loss of a child, I think this is part of the reason. My loss is nothing compared to the way some families experience losing their baby, but it was still my loss.
It was lonely.
It was scary.
I needed someone (preferably a girlfriend) to walk alongside me and just be.
Do you know a woman like that?
The kind who will just be with you and doesn’t require small talk or entertainment? They are content with the beauty of silence.
I think I had that dream last night because it prompted this post and someone needed to read these words today.
So for that someone…no matter what stage of pregnancy or postpartum you experienced your loss, all of the feelings you feel are valid. Feel them deeply and for as long as you need to. I am convinced, now more than ever, that is the only true pathway to healing and peace.
This was so moving. Even if something becomes non viable it does not make it mean less to one who has loved it regardless if it is a possession or a child. We should never dismiss someone’s loss as anything less than traumatic.
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