Last month, I was sorting through my under-the-bed box of clothes, the ones I keep to fit into when I lose the weight "someday," when I came across my bin of old summer clothes.
When I opened it up, a flash of bright pink caught my eye. What is that? I thought to myself. I don't remember buying anything so pink.
Not realizing what it was, I pulled the pink shirt up and held it in front of me. Instantly, the room closed in on me and I felt the air leave my lungs in a rush of pain. I closed my eyes and shook my head to stop the tears from falling down, hot and angry, unbelieving that I could have forgotten.
It was the maternity shirt I had bought to announce my pregnancy last summer, bright pink, with two tiny baby feet stamped at the bottom, right below the words "running buddy." I had signed up to run a half-marathon before I found out I was pregnant and, knowing that I would have been about 8 weeks along at the race, I had searched Etsy for hours to find the perfect shirt to wear while I ran. Just me and my little running buddy.
Unfortunately, however, I lost my running buddy the week before the race. I miscarried over a period of two months. Unable to get rid of the shirt, despite the pain it causes me to look at it, I had shoved it under my bed, where it had remained. Seeing the shirt and feeling the pain of my loss as fresh as it was the day my midwife broke the news to me has only made me realize, more than ever, that a miscarriage is never something you just "get over."
Honestly, part of me worries that everyone is sick and tired of hearing about my loss. I know of so many women who have had it "worse" than me, if such a scale exists—with multiple losses or later, traumatic and very physical losses. It makes me wonder what's wrong with me, that mine still seems to be affecting me even a year later.
I had a hard time this fall and didn't realize that my emotions were actually connected to my loss after all this time. I was snapping at my husband, losing focus at work and crying seemingly for no reason at all.
The minute we put a voice to our pain, no matter how small we think it might be, it becomes easier to breathe.
It was in the middle of one particularly hard night, when I couldn't seem to shake the depression that had settled over me like a cloak, that I thought long and hard on why I seemed to be dreading this time of year and why I was having such a difficult time. I asked myself if there was anything that I was avoiding dredging up because it was too painful. And that's when it hit me:
I was mourning the loss of what would have been my 6-month-old baby.
As my big kids headed back to school, I tried to deal with the fact that I should have been keeping busy at home with a 6-month-old, a baby who would have been trying solids, sitting up, and flashing roly-poly smiles at me. I realized that even though I hadn't necessarily acknowledged it out loud, part of me was still processing what felt like a considerable loss to me.
Part of me was still mourning what could have been. Part of me was still missing the baby I never got to meet.
It was a bit of shocking realization because it truly feels like I should be "over it" by now. I have had moments of embarrassment that thinking about my miscarriage still brings tears to my eyes. I still have trouble talking about it to my husband, who did not process the loss the same way I did.
As soon as I gave myself permission to acknowledge the fact that my emotions in fall were connected to the milestone of what would have been a time of transition, I was able to deal with those emotions a lot better. It was like something in me said, "Now she gets it, guys! Thank goodness!" with a big sigh of relief.
The minute something is acknowledged and put out there, it becomes a lot less scary. The minute we put a voice to our pain, no matter how small we think it might be, it becomes easier to breathe.
So, this is me, admitting to myself and to you that, yes, my miscarriage is still affecting me, more than a year later. I have no rainbow baby to fill my arms, no blossoming baby bump to comfort me, no blankets waiting softly to caress a baby's cheek. I have some memories of the hope I carried for a few weeks, the pain of experiencing life leave me and the realization that it has changed and shaped me forever.
There is no "getting over" a miscarriage because that loss—and the hole it leaves within you—becomes a part of you forever. It affects how you move through the world, see the world and process the world. And that's OK. There is no reason to pretend a loss doesn't affect you, whether it's been one year or 50. Those of us who will forever hold our lost babies in our hearts and not our arms know the truth:
We won't get over our losses because they will always be with us in some small way.