Friday, January 14, 2011

Days #136-142: "Taboo"

The last week has been a metaphorical roller coaster. I find myself feeling "fine" one minute, then ready to burst into tears the next. And it can be the most mundane and insignificant of things that seem to trigger the faucet to my tears. In my quest for comfort and consolation of this horrible loss, I have found myself scouring the Internet for any tangible relief to our situation. What is the best way to cope? Should I be home curled in a ball under the covers or should I forge onward like a valiant Roman worrier? Unfortunately, my humble quest has become futile.

Why is the concept of miscarriage, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, etc... so taboo in our society? Is it that we fear the absolution of death or is that any any "difficult" situation leaves the majority of us in a panic, unsure of how to react or what to say. Sadly, this leaves the woman suffering the loss alone and overwhelmed by grief. It's an abyss of not knowing how to feel, feeling as if no one on this entire planet understands exactly what you are going through, and of course the real and understandable anxiety of "can I get pregnant again" or "what will happen if and when I get pregnant again?"

A 1999 article from Primary Care Update OB/GYN delves into the concept of the connection with the fetus and the ultimate sense of loss when the miscarriage occurs. Researchers found that a woman feels a sense of oneness with her child and the early stages of pregnancy represent all of the hopes and dreams of the future. When the loss occurs, the woman feels empty and incomplete because that little being was never seen as its own separate entity. And unlike the normal death process, there is no tangible ritual of grieving. There is no funeral or death notice.

I have felt each and everyone of those emotions. I have felt complete and utter emptiness, disappointment in my own self, betrayal of my body, and the fear that Chris and I will never have a child again. I have felt such sadness that at times I don't know what to do with myself. I long for the little person that never made it to the physical world. I wonder what would have been and what he or she would have been like. I grieve the loss of never getting to know our child, or rocking him or her to sleep, or watching Chris read the little one prose in Latin.

The few things that have allowed me to carry on are of course my wonderful fiance who has stood by me like the biggest and greatest of oaks, of course my family and friends, and spirituality. The one thing that has been most poignant for me has been the other women in my life who have come to me and opened up about their own experiences of loss and miscarriage. They all seem to know exactly what to say and also know exactly what it is I am feeling. And you know what, they don't use the ubiquitous lines-they just say it like it is. They allow me to grieve, and to feel the loss of this greatly wanted child-because they too have also felt it.

The only thing I wish is that all of us that have gone through this didn't have to share our stories and the accompanying emotions and tears in quiet corners and hushed whispers. I wish it could be something that could be discussed more openly and without awkward silences or the "stereotypical" condolences. For any woman or couple who has experienced a miscarriage, the loss is so real. And for someone who has experienced the loss of a parent, the loss of a pregnancy is certainly akin if not worse.

So Chris and I, and all those touched by miscarriage, will never forget our first little baby. He or she may not be with us physically, but will always live in our hearts. I learned today about the concept of pregnancy loss in Judaism. In Judaism (and my Jewish friends, please forgive me and correct me if my interpretation is not completely accurate), the loss of a baby is not viewed as a loss, but rather it is believed that that little soul that did not make it to Earth was much closer to God and perfection. He or she was too perfect for the physicality of human life, but rather, was created exactly for a spiritual life. So that is how I see our little one. Much too perfect for this world. And frankly, what could make a parent more proud.

I'd like to end with something I read from Helen Keller. Living a life shut off from site and sound, Helen Keller once wrote, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart."

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