Some studies claim that up to 35% of pregnancies may end in miscarriage, usually so early that women assume they are having a normal period or one a few days late. For thousands of women who do know when they are miscarrying, it can be an emotional time.
Our bodies, it seems, does trial runs. Most miscarriages occur in the first three months, and in more than half of those chomosomal abnormalities have been found in the embryo.
But telling someone who has just had a miscarriage that “It was probably for the best,” or “Maybe something was wrong,” is not terribly helpful, even if it is true. Realising that you are pregnant, even if it was an accident, even if it was not really wanted, can be life changing. Suddenly you are responsible for a life, a person.
It can make you think long and hard about your own life. The hormonal changes alone, that weird feeling of love for someone who does not quite exist yet but for a few cells stuck together; the biological thing. It does stuff to normal, logical women, makes us feel ancient urges and whispers “Mama?” in our ear.
My first pregnancy was unplanned, and my initial feelings were “Well, this will complicate things.” My husband and I were not yet married, and I was not yet ready. Being pregnant, though, changed everything. I suddenly saw myself as a mother. When I lost my baby at three months, I was only just coming to terms with it. I was devastated. My doctor gave me lousy advice: “Forget all about it. Move on, it was never a viable pregnancy.” I wondered how there could have been a foetus, an actual boy, if there had never been a viable pregnancy. But I took his advice to heart. I moved on, stoically. Sean and I did not discuss our loss. We should have felt happy. We had everything we wanted, a wedding to plan, our future looked bright.
When we decided to go ahead and begin our family, I conceived quickly and had a dream: I dreamed that I went back to the hospital where I had gone when I had my miscarriage, and asked the nurses for my baby. I was ashamed: what kind of mother forgets her baby at the hospital? But the staff there had no idea what I was talking about. I became more and more frantic, searching the rooms and calling for help, and finally woke up sobbing for the baby that I had abandoned. I finally grieved for the real baby boy that I had carried in my heart all that time. I had been feeling guilty for so long… had I lost my baby because I didn’t want him? Just walked away from the hospital and left him there? What has happened to him? Had they thrown him away? What kind of a mother was I?
It is difficult to know what to say to someone who has suffered a similar loss. But one day, someone told me something so beautiful: “There are some souls, who have a very difficult journey. Their past lives have been filled with suffering of the worst kind, and they have more ahead. Sometimes, it becomes too much, and they need to be held for a while; warm, nourished and loved; before they can move on. Your baby knew no pain, no anger, no fear, no sadness, no hunger, no cold. You were chosen for this job… that baby chose you, and you chose him, because you could give love to a possibility, a dream, under any conditions. We special women who are chosen this way have been blessed, and those little souls thank us as they leave us.”
Another wise woman told me that even when we miscarry in the midst of feeling negative about becoming a mother, or have to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, the soul who has chosen that journey understands our decision and helps us to learn from the experience. It is a two-way gift.
I choose to believe all of this, and the medical community can stuff it. It makes me feel better. It makes me feel that there is a purpose, beyond the negative “something was wrong in the chromosomes.” It isn’t logical, but perhaps there is a reason to love every possibility, and embrace our dream babies. They are important.
I love my baby boy, who came into my life so briefly and made me a better mother to my subsequent babies, and even a better friend to myself. But I can let him go. I wish him well, wherever he is, and thank him for sending me a searching dream, so that I could grieve a really real loss.
by Nan Sheppard
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