Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A different kind of miscarriage story

Blood results are in


I knew

I have never been pregnant for longer than a few days without knowing

I knew

There was more than one union that night

I knew

What an idiot

What day is it?

What went wrong?

How could I let it go wrong?

I am Icarus, without the sea beneath to catch my fall

Now I have to face myself, my hubris, my mistake, with steely nerves

With blinders on

Another pregnancy would kill me

Another baby would kill me

Not an option

I would rather die

I mean that

I’m 45

I'm too old

I get too sick




I would rather die than ever do that again

Motherhood is not a game

I screwed up

We screwed up

Two grown adults, married with children

screwed up

Yet I am clear

I don't want this
I can't do this 

My clarity is only muddied by political correctness

by being afraid to be too sure

by being ashamed to be so sure

by seeming cold, unfeeling, ungrateful, irreverent

But that is nonsense

I know my limits

I know myself

Babies are not playthings

Babies are not romantic

Motherhood is not serene or idyllic

Not for everyone

It’s serious, lifelong, struggle.

I am a 45.

prone to depression

I suffer, like a martyr, from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Pregnancy is a living nightmare for me.

My husband is old

Much older than me

He will be 70 by the time the baby was in eighth grade.

I am not embracing this pregnancy

I can not

No. No. No.

I call a friend. She has information. Answers. Solutions. Options.

Counseling. Planning Familiale

I wander off the street and into the palatial stone church before my appointment

Cathédral St. Éttienne

I shiver from the cold

I stand before a rack of pamphlets mounted on the ancient stone wall

In the light of a massive stained- glass window, my hand chooses a  pamphlet


In counseling,  I learn my options:

It’s so early

There is a “pill solution”

A pill

A solution

An examination

A waiting period

A pill. Another pill

I feel like a ticking time bomb

I cannot endure this

Life is cruel

So wrong

How many women want to feel life inside them?

Why does life grow in unwelcoming wombs?

Accidental life

I lie down on my bed and cry, like Oprah, into my ears

This cannot be

Cannot be

Can. Not. Be.

The tall, dark doctor with the long fingers says it’s too soon

He can’t see anything

“On ne voit rien.”

He tries the wand thingy, the inter-vaginal probe

That tiny black speck on the screen, that might be it...

But... it might not be...

It’s too soon

Too small

Come back in a week

One week

I go home to wait

My daughter sits at the kitchen table and draws a mango seed, with a perfect baby inside it

A fetus

Does she know?

She tells me they are studying La sexualité at school

In response to being asked what she knows about babies, she and her friend draw a baby in a belly and put an X through it.

“Babies are cute,” they say. “But I don’t want to make one.”

“Je ne veut pas faire.”

Swimming with the girls at the indoor pool, there are young mothers and babies all around me.

There are also old women, old men,  a bus full of handicapped children-- all in the water together

Later that day, standing at the kitchen counter, it happened

I felt it

Hot, dark and sticky between my legs

Oh  God!

Oh my God!

I went to the bathroom

It had soaked through to my jeans.




I'm bleeding.


I’m laying a bad egg.

Nature has intervened

Nature resolved this

Put an end to this nightmare

I felt only relief

As if I’d been rescued,  given a stay of execution

A solution


I've been holding on to this for over a year now. Not sure why I chose to share it today, or ever, but there it is, in black and white, with lots of gray in between the lines. And I post this with the vague hope that it might make some women feel a bit better about their experiences since  we only ever hear about the elation of conception and the grief of miscarriage.  Anything else, it seems, is taboo. I am, herewith, challenging this taboo.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure you are not alone in feeling relief. I think all the taboos around miscarriage need to be lifted.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing this. i could have written this post at age 23, before i had kids, but other than the age my experience was the same, down to the relief.

Liz said...

My sister had a similar story when I was in the throes of infertility. We were in different states. We talked on the phone for hours when long distance was still something you paid for. Sometimes we called each other just to cry for a while. Painful.

I'm glad this worked out for you Betsy. Your words were painful for me to read, but I'm thankful for your raw honesty. I like what a previous poster said about lifting taboos around miscarriage.

Blessings to you...

Sue Kol said...

Thanks for sharing, I am with the lady who said that all taboos about miscarriage need to be lifted. I add abortion to that list too. You are so right that babies are no playthings and motherhood is no walk in the park.
Right to choose. That's what women should have. Always.

Janie said...

I think it is amazing that you chose to share this. And I think you are a very brave, strong woman.

I wish to be this brave, I look at my two kids and my nice, settled life and feel sick and sad about this life growing inside of me - and I feel like an awful, awful person and mother. I am at least glad to know I am not alone in this, although I will not be as brave as you - I am going to have this baby and God willing, after all the sickness and pain, I will love it just as I do my other two.

Betsy said...

No, Janie. It is you who are the truly brave one. I wish you luck.

Jenn Kirkland said...

Oh, Betsy

It's so hard, that space between elation that it's still possible, and dread that it happened at all.

So brave, and raw, and honest. You're amazing.

Shampagne said...

I am so, so very sorry you had to go through that. It is a hard place. I have three children and would be absolutely, completely devestated if I were to get pregnant again. You feelings are real and fair. Thank you for being able to share it with us.

Was Living Down Under said...

Beautifully written Betsy. It takes a brave woman to know her limits. And an even braver woman to share. Thank you. Posts like these help other women not feel so alone.

Betsy said...

Jean Kirkland: That's true. And, though I didn't allude to any elation at all in this piece, that element was and always is there.

Jenn Kirkland said...

I know you didn't, Betsy, but I'm three years younger than you are and I know that's what I would feel, simply because it's still possible

Betsy said...

Oops. I called you Jean. Sorry Jenn.

Anonymous said...

Wanted a second child. Got pregnant. The first was demanding, the husband is demanding. In an hour went from elation to terror. How How How could I keep them both happpy and give a baby the attention it needs? Would be 43 at the birth. Kept him from telling people. Thank goodness. Miscarried at 6 weeks. Was devastated.


And yet, if I'd had birth control pills around, I might well have used them to miscarry.

And still, I miss not having that second child so much.

So much mixed emotions.

We owe the children we have to be the best parents we can be. To eat right, to sleep, not to over extend. And sometimes that extra family member is or would be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Thanks for sharing.

Eve said...

Betsy- You are the bravest person I know.

Sue said...

After my second child was born, I've had nightmares that I could feel a fetus movement in my belly. The terror, the panic of being cornered, the anger, the dread, the sense of doom. There is/was no question that I do not want this fetus in me.

The unspeakable relief of waking up, but the lingering fear at the very mind can't even go there. Betsy, you are brave. I'm glad you expressed this experience.

cecile said...

Once again, your beautiful writing makes me feel better... I just a few weeks ago went through the same things of life. With an IUD, I did nit really pay attention, but like you, I KNOW I'm pregnant after a few days, and that was it. I was sad, scared, and then relieved but sad also after it's gone. Our minds are so complex...
Thank you for putting words on feelings and then for sharing them.

Kingsmom said...

Thank you Betsy.

Sam M said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

C. said...

Remarkable - thank you for sharing your honesty, your pain, and your perspective.

Lara said...

Wow. You are brave to share this, and I appreciate it as it's how I would also feel if I found myself in the same situation. Thank you for telling your story.

Anonymous said...

The exact words C said above.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for having the courage to post this. I had a planned pregnancy that I was very excited about, until severe illness & depression hit. I didn't know you could get so depressed during pregnancy--you only hear of the postpartum depression/psychosis. I ended up having an abortion because I could not handle it anymore. I was/am devastated. It's so isolating to not be able to tell anyone. There is so much taboo and stigma with abortion. No one understands that level of severe depression unless they've been through it. Even the nurse at the OB/gyn was cold to me. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for speaking up. You have no idea how comforting it is to read that someone understands, that they would have done the same & it doesn't make you a horrible person. Thank-you for a little bit of healing.

Betsy said...

To say "your welcome" to all your thank yous, in this instance, feels strange. I always associate "your welcome" with the follow up "any time." That doesn't fit here. But I am gratefully acknowledging your support, and sincerely appreciating those of you with similar stories who have come forward to comment. To that I must say "thank you."

Seamingly Sarah said...

To have to actually be faced with your fear - I can't imagine. I fear having a 3rd child and I don't know what I would do if it came along, but I don't feel as if I am made to be mother to three.

We do need to look at each other with love though, whether we agree with each other or not. No judgments, just the basic respect each human being deserves. Doesn't everyone deserve that much?

Special K said...

Very well written. Sad.

txwinter said...

Wow-just wow-so sad that you've kept this inside for so long. I hope this is cathartic for you. I know it helped others. Thank you for sharing!

Liliana Holtzman said...

Oh Betsy, I cannot imagine a woman who can't relate to the feelings you are describing! Thank you for your courage and honesty. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Keep talking, we're listening.


Anonymous said...

Every time I feel vaguely nauseas, I have a panic attack. The thought of enduring another hyper emetic pregnancy is unbearable. I was hospitalized and on IV’s with my first pregnancy, my son. I still have very vivid memories of sitting in the hospital bed, throwing up with an IV Zofran drip in my arm, waiting for it to kick in and crying because it just wasn’t working. It never did work, either. At the time, I commuted 1½ hours by train into Manhattan. I’d try to get a seat by myself and would discretely gag and wretch into little Ziploc bags lined with a paper towels. I highly doubt it was discreet, though. My walk from the subway to work was one where I would be hunched over dry heaving with my hands over my mouth trying to act like I was coughing. I can’t even imagine what my fellow commuters were thinking.
With my second pregnancy, my daughter, I was throwing up until they cut her out of me, even though I was taking oral Zofran. Women who say that you forget all of that when the baby is born are either crazy or liars. It took me 5 years to even THINK about having a second child. My rational for a second child was that my son needed someone with whom he could discuss how crazy his parents were. Also, my husband and I didn’t want him to be alone should both of us die. I also felt as though someone was missing at the dinner table. Part of my thinking in planning for a second child was that the first had to be able to fend for himself. My son was able to get himself a bowl of cereal and I thought, “Ok, at least he’ll survive this“. Turns out, my nonstop barfing didn’t faze him a bit, he’d just keep talking at me while I was heaving my guts out which,incidentally, was extremely loud and sounded like a cat getting stepped on. Did I mention all of the burst blood vessels around my eyes and bruises on my ribs?
Even though my husband and I really wanted and planned this second child, as soon as the pregnancy test came back positive I panicked and was hoping for a miscarriage and even considered an abortion, so unbearable was the reality of what the next 9 months would hold. I completely identify with the relief you must have felt and I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling the way I did. Thank you for your candidness, as always!

Hope you and your family have a joyous reunion!

Virginia in Pepperell, Ma

Anonymous said...

Wow, Betsy! You are really amazing for sharing this. Thank you for your work and your courage to write. Hugs! -mizzee

Miki said...

Thank you for writing this. I've had 5 pregnancies, two living children. My last three pregnancies were terrible. Months of bed rest, surgery, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, depression and then post-partum depression. I know exactly what you mean when you say you'd rather be dead than to be pregnant again. I made my husband get a vasectomy but still if I'm even just a little late or a little nauseous I am terrified that I could be pregnant. Terrified. I've said as much to a few people just to have them sort of laugh it off. It's no joke. Stories like yours help to share a side of pregnancy that is too seldom acknowledged.

ashley said...

Thank you for writing this.... im crying right now im only 21 i could not have the baby i was carrying...and i had to lose him/her because i am hardly an adult.... And i lost the father too...hes changed....he only wants me for my body and he doesnt understand how traumatic this has all been for me... your writing hit the nail on the head and atleast i know am not is often easy to forget that when you cant talk to your family about it...and no one is around kften enough to lend an ear and consolation... and i hope that the help i am getting helps me grow into a stronger person

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