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.
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.
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.