I heard something on a podcast recently that made me pause: apparently, the only way to truly let something go, to forgive someone or something, is to find gratitude for it. So perhaps finding gratitude for a miscarriage (or three of them, in this case) isn’t an exact parallel, but I figured it was worth a shot. Here goes nothing.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have the daughter and son that I do now.
An obvious one, of course. But I will never forget the first morning I woke up after having lost my first pregnancy. Disoriented from cross-country travel and benzodiazepines, for a brief second, I’d forgotten what had happened the day before. Just long enough that when I realized the baby that was tucked safely in my uterus was dead, I wanted nothing more than to be lifeless myself. I can still hear the noise my heart made in my head — an anguished cry that would replay over and over and over again. Sometimes out loud and sometimes when I wouldn’t want it to. This is the feeling I ran from for what turned into years until finally, FINALLY, I carried a pregnancy to just shy of 37 weeks. Until we finally had our first baby in our arms. Without those miscarriages, I wouldn’t have those painful memories, but I also wouldn’t have the exact same kids that keep my heart going day in and day out. And, for that, I’m grateful.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have three guardian angel babies in heaven who I know are watching over us each day.
My husband’s mother passed away shortly before we got engaged, and so obviously, she would never get to meet her grandchildren. Whatever the afterlife looks like, it brings me comfort, hope, and joy to think of her tending to our unborn angel babies each day. To imagine that a bit of Adair and a dash of Fitz have made their way into her orb. This angel family makes my heart swell. Sure, with longing, but also with gratitude.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have lost myself as a human, woman, and wife, forcing me to look at what is really important in life.
People don’t talk about how marriages suffer during pregnancy loss. “You’re just so sad, and I don’t know what to do.” Words my husband spoke to me six months after our first loss and a month after our second. It wasn’t his fault, and it wasn’t mine either. I wish we’d never been pushed to that moment, but I’m thankful knowing that we found our way back from it to grow our family in number and in love.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t know that my body was truly built to protect its babies, even the ones who weren’t strong enough to be born.
Two of my miscarriages were missed, meaning that my body showed no signs of the baby passing and required a surgical procedure to remove them from my body. That’s right. My uterus all but shouted, “You will have to cut these babies out of me.” Miscarriage has a funny way of making you doubt your capabilities as a mother before you’re even given the chance but, with time, I was able to appreciate the fact that I was always a Mama Bear, even if I didn’t have a baby yet. If you’re reading this without having had or even conceived your rainbow baby, then I offer all of the love and support that a stranger can.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have love for a body that can physically and emotionally withstand SEVEN TOTAL MONTHS of pregnancy that don’t yield a baby.
A body that can have surgery, gush blood subsequently afterward, and still get itself up to put two toddlers to bed that night. A mind that can know I’m passing grapefruit-sized clots and still pitch a home run to a client. This one took some time, and I’ll be honest, a live birth to acquire. It felt like the first few miscarriages were my body flipping me the middle finger, and the sentiment was returned in kind. But for whatever way I felt betrayed by my body, I know that it was just doing its best to protect and grow human lives and there is truly no greater gift than that.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have the gift of fighting for my pregnancies and my babies.
For years I was so envious, so begrudging and so devastated by women who seemed to sneeze and conceive. Women I knew were popping out two and three babies before I could even carry one to term and it hurt. BAD. It taught me, early on, that comparison is the thief of joy. Whether looking at others’ picture-perfect Instagram lives or dodging double strollers on the sidewalk, I will always be grateful for the perspective my miscarriages provided. And I hope to provide comfort and understanding to those facing infertility and pregnancy loss, knowing the depths of their despair all too well.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have cherished every migraine, wave of nausea, acid reflux, constipation, ache, pain, and puke reminding me that I WAS STILL PREGNANT!
Sure, none of those things were fun, but their presence was, in my estimation, a gift. There is a gratitude that women who miscarry have towards every aspect of pregnancy that cannot be transferred or taught. I didn’t glow, I threw up, I was an insomniac and my future dancers kicked the shit out of my ribs, but I didn’t complain. I loved my growing belly and didn’t bat an eye at anyone who commented on or touched my bump. Who cared? I was pregnant! So even though it really sucks to lose a baby, it helped make it not suck to grow two of them all the way.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have known that birth of any kind is fucking beautiful.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to experience labor or have the option to push my big-headed babies out of my narrow pelvis. And, sure, one delivery was an especially horrifying emergency. But none of that matters when you’re holding a squishy bundle of perfection in your arms. I know that some women have elaborate birth plans and strong desires to deliver in a particular way, but when you’ve had a miscarriage, all you really want is a baby.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have felt the kind of love that I did from my friends and family.
They all just appeared. Bearing wine, doughnuts and an intense desire to take away any pain that I might be feeling. I’m not great about asking for help and it wasn’t until family showed up by my side without asking, friends jumped into action with our kiddos, and my husband removed every ounce of stress for me, that I knew I should trust the important people in my life more often.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have been able to welcome sleepless nights and unparalleled exhaustion of motherhood with open arms.
I’m not going to lie and say that I never cried in the shower over bleeding nipples or really wished that I had more family around to help. Hell, I still do those things sans the breastfeeding injuries. But it does seem somehow easier to endure the sacrifices that come with parenthood knowing that the alternative is a world in which I never get to see my baby smile, hear them say “Mama!” or feel their surprisingly strong arms wrap around my neck — no matter what time of day or (more likely) night those things happen.
This piece began as a desperate effort to quell the sorrow that still creeps in having just lost a pregnancy five months ago. One that won’t be replaced with a rainbow baby, even though I’d have 10 more children if age, time and money allowed. And guess what? It really worked.
After my first miscarriage, I had to deactivate my Facebook account and severely limited my Instagram feed. Other peoples’ babies served only to remind me that I had none. I was surprised when those old feelings reemerged now that I’ve been blessed with two children, but grief is grief is grief is grief. The exercise of something for which I’m thankful has made it easier to watch pregnant women waddle around without a feeling of longing.
Healing is always a work in progress, but forgiveness and gratitude — for your thoughts and your actions; for your own body; for your partner, your family and your friends — is a really great place to start.