What a word.
I imagine a running back, grabbing a football straight out of the air, fumbling it and watching it drop to the grass. Or a waitress, balancing a tipping tray of food, stumbling a little and then hearing tumbling glasses and steaks and potatoes plunking to the floor.
Miscarry – as in in whoopsies, she missed that carry.
The medical term, however, isn't any better: Spontaneous abortion. For one, the connotation is terrible. As if, somehow, you chose it, scheduled it or it's somehow political or violent. But even leaving that loaded a-word aside, it's still wildly inaccurate.
There's nothing spontaneous about it.
Miscarriages happen slowly, or at least mine have, with a spot in the morning and then one in the afternoon. Hours feel like days. Checking, second-guessing, listening to every creak or twinge in your abdomen, wondering if this is it, or if you're OK, or if baby is gone already and you just don't know it.
Then, the hours can actually turn into days – real days. Days of waking up wondering if today's the day it will happen or if today's the day the spotting will stop and you'll go on to get bigger and better. You memorize the numbers to keep your sprits up: 20-30 percent of all women bleed during pregnancy and of those who do, 50 percent go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies.
But when the spotting starts coming with a low backache and little shooting pains, the reassurances turn pale and in creeps that heavy anticipation of the sadness – sadness you know you'll feel, sooner. Or later. No one can tell you.
Then the pain comes and you know it's over. Or almost over. Or starting to be over. From there, it can be another few days. Cramping and crying, cramping and crying. My first one came with contractions I could time. This last one just happened, painfully, but not excruciatingly. It happened all day long, in between lunches and snacks and packaging veggies for delivery and among games of peek-a-boo and friends and family stopping by to make sure we were all OK.
Because of all of that, this one seems easier to handle. No less sad, just less heavy.
With the first, I felt even more broken than I do now. It was our first pregnancy and one that came after many months of trying and failing, trying and failing, the overwhelming fear of infertility building with each month.
And then, Miscarry. As in, maybe my body's not meant to carry anything at all.
The numbers arrived again. 10-25 percent of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage.
Research shows that 40 to 75 percent of all miscarriages are because of genetic, chromosomal abnormalities. That is to say, not because of something the mother did or didn't do.
I took some solace in knowing that all systems were a go – that we could get pregnant. But, those infertility fears were quickly supplanted with other fears. Fears that I wouldn't be able to carry.
With this second miscarriage, I know, deep down, that I can both make and carry a baby – inside and outside my womb.
But, the guilt and the wondering is still there, however faint this time. Did I run up those stairs too fast? Is that what did it? Was it the two glasses of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Is it a complication from my C-section? Is it because I'm still breastfeeding? Is it all the coffee I've been drinking? The stress I've been feeling? The heavy lifting I've been doing? Is my body just not ready?
The chatter can be endless if I let it.
I fought cancer in my 20s. I was a body-conscious teenager who had major issues about too-early development and thick thighs and a too-big chest. I've wrestled with the aftermath of a sexual assault.
Because of all that, I'm afraid I've patterned myself to think of my body as something that will betray me, something that's made up of dysfunction and brokenness.
I fight that feeling every day.
After that first miscarriage and the months of trying to get pregnant while friends around me sneezed and got knocked up, I needed something to work on, so I worked fighting that feeling. And I worked on my faith. Faith in my body, in God and in goodness.
When we first found out I was pregnant with Willa, that work started to pay off. I let myself slip into hope and promise. I taught myself to believe in my body – that it was made for this baby – and I taught myself to believe that I deserved this, that my body deserved this.
Now, when I look at this perfect little being that is my daughter, almost walking and all snaggle-toothed smiles and giggles, I know there is immense beauty and goodness in this world -- and inside of me too.
I know we would have loved the two babies we lost and I think about them both often. Sad for them, sad I never got to meet them, sad they didn't get a chance. But, I also know that my family will be what it's meant to be – that there is a grand plan for our lives and it involves a lot of love and light, but also a little longing and sadness. And that is just as it should be.
This time of year, as the world buttons itself up for winter, slowing and cooling, leaves floating off branches and green dying back to brown, is a good time to remember that sadness and darkness will bring life. It's what will bring tulips and buds in spring. Fallow produces bounty next year.
It takes faith and patience and time. But, if I've learned anything I've learned that if you keep moving and keep trying and keep hoping and most of all, keep a gratitude for the love and life you already have, all will be as it should be.
Death eventually turns back into life.
Emptiness eventually turns to full.
Darkness begets light.