Miscarriage takes something away from you. Not only are your dreams shattered. Not only is your baby gone. But with those things, your confidence leaves too. Exiting your body with blood, flesh, and tears is also a glimmer of hope and trust. Conviction in your body’s abilities simply disappears. In its place a well of doubt, pity, and loathing takes shape. A sufficient shadow of despair looms overhead.
It is said that ignorance is bliss, and that may partially be true. The elation of a positive pregnancy test is a feeling unsurpassed, especially for a couple wanting for nothing more than to become parents. The incomprehension that the life inside of you could perish in an instant is nothing short of crude. It seems that only after you have suffered such an intolerable pain do you actually hear of similar stories; do the statistics meet your ears. Realizing you are not alone offers a little solace.
Miscarriage lends to incredible loneliness and much time for reflection. News of other people’s pregnancies can yield feelings of disbelief, jealousy, resentment, and even anger… particularly when they tell you that “this one wasn’t planned.” This scenario can impart guilt.
Eventually there is an unnoticeable upward shift in emotion. The ambiguity fades. You might find yourself taking surprising pleasure in the good fortune of family or friends. This feels foreign and allowing it to happen can feel strange at first, as if somehow you’re dishonoring your pregnancy or your baby. This is healing from miscarriage.
Miscarriage takes something away from you, or at least it did from me five years ago. If ever you’re lucky enough to become pregnant again you realize that it’s not carefree. It can’t be. You’re constantly wondering when the next shoe will fall. You quickly begin to understand that if you are to hold onto any shred of mental health, you must find sovereignty any way you can.
For me, self regulation meant a lot of handiwork. I crocheted until my hands cramped and then I crocheted some more. I wrote positive affirmations, repeating the same words every evening, until they became etched in my brain.
And the only other thing that I knew I could control was limiting who I shared news of this pregnancy with. I have not guarded this information to keep other people in the dark, but rather because it was so damn hard to explain when things went south before. Five years ago family and friends and even strangers would congratulate me, or ask how the pregnancy was going, or when I was due, or how I was feeling. I would have to explain that the baby died. My baby died. I dealt with awkward silence, screwed up faces of pity, and words of ill placed perception. Very few people had prudence to offer the consolation I needed to hear; 6 words: I am sorry for your loss! I could not go through those interactions again. I would not survive it!
I have literally been counting the days and weeks and months. I have been agonizing over the what-ifs. I have been trying to find joy in the baby’s movements and positivity in heartbeats, but it’s been inexplicably hard. Many people, good-kind-wonderful people make it to full term and yet are heartbroken with stillborn babies. There is no explanation and there is never any guarantee. There is a reality of loss I was completely oblivious to before. Being aware of it now makes me more conscious of protecting my mental health.
We chose to announce our pregnancy to very few people. To those who honored our request for confidence, we are forever indebted to you. You helped protect our emotions and you not only respected our wishes but also regarded the fragility of the unknown as a privilege. Thank you for your love and support and understanding. To the close family and friends who didn’t judge when we politely declined a baby shower and gifts beforehand, we also thank you. Holding my deceased baby’s clothes in my hands and covering them with tears on a nightly basis was my reality five years ago. I could not go through that again. I refused to become attached to belongings until I had a healthy, live baby in my arms for those possessions.
We waited until the end of the first trimester to tell Mallory she was going to be a big sister again. Her response: “I just hope this one doesn’t die.” We all had a lot of ghosts. Those phantoms have recently been laid to rest.
We are very pleased to announce that our rainbow baby, Sullivan Matthew Bourdeau, arrived safely Earth-side in the comfort of our home on Saturday, January 6th at 1:38 am. He weighed 9 lbs. 4 oz and was 20 ¾ inches long at birth. We are trying to rest and, and we are adjusting to our life as a family of four. We will reach out when we are ready for visitors.
Sully’s birth was the most intense and empowering experience of my life. His homebirth story will be a post for another day but suffice to say that holding him in my arms is surreal. It is worth every moment of the last seven year struggle to become a mother to another child here on Earth. I am incredibly grateful to Katherine Bramhall of Gentle Landing Midwifery for her reassurance in my innate ability to do this.
I am grateful to Nathanial Snay for his assistance with plowing our accounts through the snow and wind storm so that Mark could make it home in time to support me.
And we are forever grateful to Jamie Dubie for opening her home and her family to Mallory, not just Friday night but over the last 12 years. Words can’t describe how it eased my mind and allowed me to enter this birth journey without a worry in the world to know that she was being cared for and loved.
In parting, I’d just like to offer a few words to other mamas out there who are walking similar paths as mine. You are loved. You are supported. And you are not alone. Please continue to hope beyond hope, listen to and heal your body and your heart, and make your wishes come true however that can be for you. Please know that I am willing to lend a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen anytime. You are not alone!