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I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE

7 minute read
Excerpted from: "I Never Held You" by Ellen M. DuBois

I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE

I know you’re living in a world right now that sometimes doesn’t seem real. It’s too scary, lonely, and sad to be your life.You hardly recognize it anymore. I know that feeling. It’s like a nightmare no one can wake you from, because you’re already awake.


I know what it’s like to be sitting on the couch, driving in my car, walking through the supermarket–and feel a sudden onslaught of tears. I’ve lived those days when you don’t know if you’ve got the strength to hold them back.


I know what it's like to sit on the couch with your hands resting on your now empty womb, crying so hard over what could have been that your body hurts afterwards. My mind flashed to images of what my baby would have looked like, what his room would have been like, how he would have felt in my arms. I remained stuck in that painful spot for a very long time, and I know what it feels like to think you'll never escape from it–to wonder where the life jacket is and who's going to throw it.


I know what it's like to feel ashamed for feeling jealous of women who had healthy, beautiful babies–after I just lost mine. I felt the guilt–knew it was wrong, but couldn't stop myself from feeling it.


I know what it's like to feel angry at my spouse for not understanding me more. I know what it's like to be snappy and cold, even when your heart tells you it's not how you want to be–not what you meant to say. You want to scream out, "I’m in pain, that's why I'm acting this way!" But you don't, and the cycle continues. Sometimes the distance between you becomes overwhelming, and it's exactly the opposite of what your heart craves. Yet, you don't know how to ask to be close–what to say, how to feel.


I know what it's like to retrace every one of your footsteps to see what you did wrong to cause your miscarriage. I dwelled on the glasses of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant and on the cigarettes I smoked before I knew I was pregnant. I went through my life with a fine tooth comb so I could find a reason, any reason, for my miscarriage. I never found any, but tortured myself just the same.


I know what it's like to go to a baby shower and feel like running from the room because I couldn't take the pain of being around people who were so joyful and had every right to be. I know about feeling like a third wheel when your friends or acquaintances all have healthy babies or pregnancies and you're left living through the nightmare of not having your own baby to love.


I know what it’s like to turn to God and instead of praying, blaming Him for your miscarriage. I did it–I asked why, and when I thought I didn’t get an answer, I felt even more alone. I couldn’t see, couldn’t feel anything but my own pain, and when God didn’t make it all go away, I got angry and sad. I felt guilty for feeling that way and beat myself up for that, too. I drove myself into an even deeper hole.


I know what it's like to be afraid to be intimate again, for fear of another pregnancy–or loss of one. I felt the conflicting emotions of wanting a baby so badly, yet after having suffered such a loss, being too paralyzed by the fear of it happening again. What if it happened again? I couldn't take it. Those thoughts have run through my mind.


I know what it's like to pull out the one baby outfit you allowed yourself to buy from its secret hiding space and clutch it tightly to your chest, tears streaming down your face as you think of the baby who will never fill it. I also know what it's like to let go of that outfit, giving it to a friend who just found out she's pregnant–telling yourself over and over that you're doing the right thing. She will use it. She'll have a healthy baby. At the same time, feelings of jealousy, sadness, and resentment combined with happiness for your friend. It was confusing and tiring, lonely and scary.


I know how much I allowed my self esteem to get beat up after I miscarried. I put on some weight, couldn't stand myself for it (even though I was four and a half months pregnant when I miscarried), and felt simply terrible about myself. I couldn't find the motivation to exercise, to eat right, to make myself feel better because I was too busy grieving, when no one else was grieving with me or at least I didn't think they were.


I know how frightening it is when your heart suddenly races and it scares you out of your mind. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, choke, or die. I know how scary feelings of anxiety can be. When you don't know what anxiety is, it's even more terrifying. I felt like I was going crazy and would never be the “old" me again. I lost the old me.


I know what it's like to love the baby you never got to hold.


But there's something else I know.


I know that over time you will heal, smile again, feel like your old self, and be able to live your life. I know that you will be able to hold a friend’s baby or celebrate the pregnancy of someone without feeling resentful. I know you’ll be able to shop for baby clothes again and smile because they’re so cute. I know you’ll be able to stop blaming yourself, God, or anyone else for your miscarriage. I know you’ll begin to flourish and experience new and beautiful things in your life. I know there’ll come a time when you won’t feel like crying every ten seconds. I know you’ll be able to accompany someone to an ultrasound and actually get through it in one piece. I know time will become your friend, not your enemy. I know you’ll be able to feel the joy and wonder when a baby looks into your eyes and smiles. I know the wall you’ve built around your heart will be torn down, one brick at a time.


I know this, because I am there. I have my moments when I slip back into that dreadful time–the time when I miscarried, and I’ll never forget it or my baby in heaven. But, when I think of the dark, isolated place I was in and compare that to where I am today, I see the impossible happened–I journeyed down a road of healing and recovery.


I also know, more than anything else, that after your journey you will be able to offer comfort to a woman who’s miscarried. The world will become a place where miscarriage is not something that’s simply brushed aside as a non-event, and you will have the strength and courage to offer your hand out to a sister in need during her darkest hours.


Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can provide hope and healing–instead of isolation and fear. We can show women everywhere that they are not alone in their suffering. With our arms outstretched we can say, "I have lived it, I am here for you." After crying our own tears, we can dry the tears of those crying now.


Our babies never got to see this earth, but we can take comfort that our angel babies are just that–angels. Although we can't see them, we can feel them in us, around us, and you will always be able to say, "I am that baby's mother." Because, you are.


Through adversity comes strength. I'd never wish this kind of adversity on you, but since you are living it, you can take it and turn it into something that will not only make you a stronger person, but will enable you to lend some strength to those who need it. Maybe not today or even this year–but, someday.



pp. 133-135. Excerpted from: "I Never Held You: Miscarriage, Grief, Healing and Recovery" by Ellen M. DuBois. Posted by permission from the author. Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, copyright 2006.

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