Sometimes I wonder if a lot of my anger isn’t just to keep me from feeling the lack of you. Perhaps I’m angry because I feel I should be moved past my initial grief and spending more time in other stages of grief. Anger is one I am familiar with, comfortable with, and it is outward-focused. So I would rather wake up and spend my day angry than feel overwhelmed by missing you.
I should be 15, almost 16 weeks pregnant. I should be visibly pregnant. I should be anticipating in the next few weeks finding out your gender, and a few weeks after that feeling you kick. I should be growing more deeply in love with you. I should be preparing for you in my home and in my heart and in my marriage.
Instead I am so, so empty. And it’s such a foreign feeling, and one no one can give me advice on working through. It’s a lonely feeling. It’s overwhelming, and my first reaction is to distract myself from it, or turn it into anger. I just miss you so much. Now that I’m officially empty of pregnancy hormones, I can be confident that my emotions are not purely chemical. They are wholly real, and that makes them harder to handle. There’s more clarity in my mind than I had when I was pregnant and immediately following. And that clarity focuses in narrowly on the stark absence of you every day.
Every hour something reminds me that you’re not inside me anymore and it’s like a punch in the stomach and an immediate sense of abandonment and loneliness. And something is just missing. Something vital. Something I had pumping in my blood and brain chemicals and and in my heart for months is now just gone, with nothing to show for it. My womb is empty. My heart is empty. My arms are empty. I feel a hollow ache in my chest and arms to hold you and to direct my love somewhere. Anywhere. There’s nothing tangible for it to rest on, so it settles on you; but all I have left of you is an ultrasound photo and a memory.
I can only describe myself as desolate. Devastated. Empty. Betrayed. And the clarity in my mind sharpens each feeling painfully, and brings back memories too (Trigger warning: D&C). I am in that room alone, and two different nurses try to find your heartbeat on the Doppler. I am still convinced you’re alive despite that they hear nothing, despite the bleeding, despite the cramping I have felt in my abdomen for twelve hours. Perhaps it’s just denial. But nothing is like waiting in the waiting room between your Doppler and your ultrasound, surrounded by pregnant strangers, trying not to cry. Trying to decide if you should call your husband or if you’re overreacting and your baby is fine. But that empty ultrasound and the sheer feeling of the floor opening up beneath me and the world crashing down around me on seeing it, comes back to haunt me, and it’s all I can do not to break down sobbing again. I can feel the IV insertion, the cold hospital room, being vulnerable in my hospital gown. The horrifying feeling of having no life inside me, but rather death. Waking up later to realize even that is gone; there’s nothing in there. Wondering which feeling is worse.
Cruelly, the memories sneak up on me. Just reading dates in April, May, or even June that remind me of what I was doing, how pregnancy was going each of those weeks. Memories of working at family camp in May and loving being pregnant but starting to show signs of miscarriage, though I didn’t know it at the time. Memories of graduating with my masters while pregnant. Of my birthday when you were only 24 days old. Of what books I read, what tv shows I watched. They all trigger that gut wrenching pain and honestly it’s hard to breathe.
I haven’t worn jeans in six weeks. I couldn’t button them toward the end of my pregnancy with you, and putting jeans back on instead of a skirt is like conceding another defeat of miscarriage. Tiny things like buying an ovulation kit, feminine products, things I wasn’t supposed to eat while pregnant, all of them are a cruel reminder and further defeats.
This grief is beyond anything I have ever felt, and is indescribably overwhelming. I don’t like it, I’m tired of feeling it, I’m tired of carrying it with me everywhere I go and burdening others with it. I’m tired of grief being the banner over our home, making it less a sanctuary and place of welcome and more of a pit to hide away in. But again, no matter what I do to get up the energy to clean the house, make food, take care of the dog, and welcome your daddy when he gets home, I can’t just force joy back into the house. You’re still gone. My arms are still empty. Nothing can change that fact, and so I would rather be angry than feel overwhelmed by emptiness.
However, I also know anger is a normal stage of grief and as a Christian my anger is directed at God because it’s easiest. I’ve followed all the stages of grief by the book, including denial and depression and anger. I’m only a month out from my loss and it’s not abnormal to experience grief like this for six months. That is a comfort. But where I am most confused is in knowing what’s normal and what’s chemical. As I said the pregnancy hormones are gone, my mind is clearer, but I also know the brain chemistry can be messed up by a sudden loss of pregnancy. And if this is postpartum depression on top of grief, how do I know? From the research I have done, it seems that most experts understand grief and many understand postpartum depression but not often both together. Which is strange, considering how common miscarriage is. I don’t think I want medication. I can’t afford counseling. But how long do I wait before pursuing a method of relief and a chance to get back to normal?
There’s so much anger. So much confusion. So much depression. And I’m tired. I don’t just mean sleepy, though I don’t sleep well either. I just mean tired–mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. A month has been long enough to live as half the person I normally am. Usually I think I’m pretty upbeat and cheery. I miss that. I miss being rested and happy. I have a vacation coming up, crowded in a beach house with family. I don’t want that ruined by continued depression and anger. When will I be normal again? What is normal? And how does a Christian reconcile together not only emotional grief and chemical depression, but also spiritual oppression?
Whatever is happening in my brain and in my spirit, I just miss you, Rowan. If I could boil all my emotions down to one, it would be just that: I miss you. I miss knowing you’re there, I miss dreaming and planning for you, I miss following your growth and development, and I miss loving a tangible, live, beautiful child that was mine and your daddy’s alone.