All I Have is This Commemorative Tote

January 20, 2009, meant a lot to many people. It was American history in the making as Barack Obama got sworn in as the first Black President. Commemorative swag was everywhere. Hell, even I have a Safeway-branded inauguration bag.

Commemorative Tote

For me, a far different memory usurped this historic event. It’s not every day a sonogram tech abandons you with a transvaginal probe inserted inside of you. She promised she would be right back, but my internal time clock suggested otherwise. I tried to quell my anxiety. Surely, she must have forgotten to do something important, totally unrelated to me.

When she returned, she wasn’t alone. She had brought a doctor. The doctor delivered the news that the 12-week-old baby I thought I was carrying had stopped growing 4 weeks ago, and there was no heartbeat. It turns out my body didn’t yet get the message that it was time to miscarry. Until this moment, I was blissfully unaware that anything could be wrong with this pregnancy. My son was going to have a brother or sister 18 months younger than him.

At this point, a woman has two choices: let her body miscarry naturally when it’s ready or have her doctor perform a dilation and curettage (D&C) where a doctor scrapes out the fetal remains. My choice still fills me with regret. Gosh, what a macabre f*cking thing to add to your life’s regrets list.

With my firstborn’s 1st birthday was less than two weeks away, I felt I had no choice but to schedule a d&c promptly. I couldn’t risk ruining my son’s party with an inconvenient miscarriage. Also, I didn’t want anyone to know about my miscarriage lest they feel pity for me. Except for a few people, my husband and I kept this miscarriage a secret.

First Birthday
My Son’s First Birthday (01/09)

I spent 2009 in a haze and fog of low-grade depression. Maybe if I had been more forthcoming about my miscarriage or more self-aware I might have gotten therapy. Instead, I struggled alone. With my third pregnancy and the birth of my daughter, I had no choice but to finally move on. What kind of mom would I be if I felt sad about a miscarriage that made my daughter’s birth possible. I shamed my grief away.

In recent days, though, I’ve sobbed multiple times over a beautifully written miscarriage-related Twitter thread. Queue the unprocessed grief. I also felt slightly envious of a Facebook friend’s wife that got to miscarry her baby naturally. I realize how irrational and weird this sounds. Maybe it’s I never got a chance to say goodbye. My doctor prescribed valium for me to take on the procedure day and I didn’t feel anything physically or emotionally. And, the pregnancy ended just like that.

And, with the publishing of this blog post, I’m done keeping my miscarriage a secret. I also want more to commemorate my lost baby with more than a worn canvas tote stamped with the date that I learned that this baby would never be. Sharing my story is the first step.

Becky Elliott

After dropping out of a liberal arts college that focused on reading and discussing the “Great Books”, Becky Elliott found her way to a career in IT. For 20+ years, she has held a number of roles in Dev and Ops, and the area in between the two. In working for organizations in which poor security practices can cost lives, she’s an ardent believer in integrating security through the entire design process. Becky holds a number of industry certifications including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

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