This past weekend I noticed acne on the back of my shoulders and neck. At first, I was annoyed – 32 years old and religiously doing skin maintenance and I am still breaking out. Then it hit me, and I was immediately overwhelmed by emotion, and began balling in the shower. My body unfortunately is still making its way back to normal after being pregnant. My hormones are all out of whack which leads to some weird things like back acne, exhaustion, and the intense rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. It is an odd thing to go from absolutely loving the uncomfortable signs of pregnancy to praying for anything to bring my hormone levels and physical body back to normal. We hear a lot about the devastation and sadness that comes after a miscarriage. The depression and anxiety that follow it, can be crippling. Adding to the emotional side of losing a pregnancy, is the physical.
My body reminds me every day that I could not carry a pregnancy to term – even in the subtle moments like putting on a bra when my boobs are still sore. Or throwing away another pair of ruined underwear because just when I thought the bleeding has stopped – here it comes again. The cruel reality of miscarriage is while you can avoid the pregnancy announcements and baby pictures on social media, or the kids’ section at Target, you cannot avoid your own body. So, while I may be smiling across the table from you, I might also be dying inside because I can feel the reality of it all on the soaked pad in between my legs. And just as every period that came before this for the 18 months of trying to conceive, each period after this will be a painful reminder that I am not pregnant.
Over and over and over again you run through every activity you did, every single thing you ate and drank, wondering what you did to have caused the miscarriage. The doctor told me countless times that this is just something that happens, and I could not have done anything differently to have changed the inevitable result. And I know that this happens to A LOT of women (1 in 4 actually), unfortunately no matter what the reality is, my brain cannot turn off the self-blame and shame I am feeling. Or the fear of making the wrong choice about everything after this miscarriage – do I wait for it to happen naturally or have a D&C? Do we try to conceive again as soon as possible or wait till I feel emotionally more stable? Do I talk about it or keep it to myself? Do I try celebrating every second of the next pregnancy or keep quiet and anxiously wait to tell family and friends because of the fear this could all happen again. You do not have to look hard to find reasons to blame yourself, hate yourself for whatever choices you make, or to be buried in guilt and shame thinking about what your body couldn’t do.
It is exhausting.
I know I am lucky. I have had the support and love of family and friends and an incredible husband. A husband that sat with me at every appointment, through two fun ultrasounds and then through the “we can no longer find the heartbeat” one. And as much as I know he is hurting and has been here with me through this, miscarrying is by far the loneliest, most isolating thing I have ever experienced. I have been trying to process what I have been feeling because rational Marissa keeps repeating – you have so many friends and family here for you, you have Eddie who has done everything to be a good support person, 1 in fucking 4 women experience this, you can call your mom at ANY time and cry to her – so why do I keep feeling so painfully alone? I think that experiencing a miscarriage is lonely and isolating because l am truly the only one who actually experienced this loss. Yes of course my husband is experiencing the heartbreak and devastation of losing what could have been or what was supposed to be. But I am the only one in the universe that experienced this pregnancy, this exact loss. I have healed from losing loved ones in the past by reminiscing with others who have loved and experienced their life as I have. When you miscarry, there is no one else who experienced it like you did. As everyone continues living their lives, I have internalized this pressure (real or not) to just get my shit together and move on. I mean it was not like a lost a “real” baby.
But heart is broken. And I am mourning a loss that from the outside looks like something that never actually was.
So, I am kind of just silently sitting in this heartbreak until it passes. And I know that a lot of people experience much worse than this and a lot of women experience this exact thing. I do not find comfort in knowing others are suffering, but I do find comfort in seeing other people pick themselves up out of shit situations and move on with their lives. This will pass. I will be okay, but I guess I just wanted to get out what I was feeling and share it with someone.
Which brings me to why I am sharing all of this now. Truly, reading other people’s stories around miscarriage kept me out of a dark hole on days I did not want to get out of bed. Those stories helped normalize how I was feeling and although I may feel alone in my world, there are other people out there feeling the same way I do – so maybe this will help someone else feel not so alone. And again, I know I am lucky and I know I have an abundance of support. So if you are someone who is experiencing this by yourself, I see you and I am here if you need someone. I am also sharing this because I am overwhelmed by fear and anxiety of being around family and friends (a lot with small children) around the holidays. Thus, I am here to say (and keep telling myself) it is OKAY to say no. To stay home. To leave early. You do not have to torture yourself with everyone’s joy and laughter because they are family, take care of yourself and fuck being polite. Let those painful reminders your body gives you about your miscarriage also be helpful reminders to take care of yourself, to do what your body and mental health need – not what others expect of you.
Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.