I’ve spent the majority of my life hanging out with Anxiety and her sister-friend, Depression. Sometimes their cousin, Agoraphobia, joined in the fun. I have found my self in dangerous situations and I have experienced things I would rather not replay on the back of my eyelids when I rest my head at night. But the deepest, darkest hole I have ever clawed myself out of is the one I sank into after hearing, “We can no longer hear a heartbeat.” So cold, so impersonal, so clinical. Like it had been said 50 times already that day. Maybe I was the 50th that week, in that very same chair, since 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 4. I was now 1 in 4; a statistic. A lonely, isolated statistic.
I felt betrayed by my own body. I was offered a D & C at the hospital or a pill to take at home, meanwhile my heart was shattering inside my chest at that very moment. This baby had been planned. I had wanted it so bad. The nursery Pinterest board was done, the name had been picked. I had downloaded all the apps, tracked my cycle, checked my temperature, charted my heart rate. And I thought it had paid off. I was sick every morning and experiencing every single symptom What to Expect When You’re Expecting warns about in Chapter 1. I was still sick when they told me there was no more heartbeat, when they told me the fetus had stopped growing two weeks earlier. My body didn’t even realize it. I was sick for nothing. I felt betrayed. It took a long time for me to forgive my body after that.
I felt alone. People don’t usually talk about miscarriage. I didn’t know where to turn, who to reach out to. I started with the people who I had excitedly told prematurely; the ones who caught me throwing up or slightly touching my stomach. And I was surprised when many of them decided to share with me their own losses. It felt validating; it normalized my experience. I was 1 in 4, but I was not alone.
I wanted to try again, as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to gloss over this very essential part of my life. This loss, this experience, had become a part of who I was. Deep in my closet, in a drawer, there is a box that no one else has ever seen. Inside I tucked away early ultrasounds, a necklace that reads I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart) with a small birthstone gem, and a doctor’s note excusing me from work for two weeks. I let myself keep these mementos as a reminder of the pain, the resilience, and the strength that I drew from the women around me who opened up about their own pain.
Two weeks later, I returned to work, at Early Intervention nonetheless. I worked all day, every day, with other people’s babies. I quit a few weeks later. I retreated to lick my wounds and move on to new experiences. I took the time and space I needed. And eventually I tried again. But I wasn’t the same person as before. I was changed, that little cluster of cells changed me. I am 1 in 4. I will never hide it or shy away from sharing my story. I am 1 in 4 and I am here for all the other “1”s, so they never feel like they have to go through it alone. We are 1 in 4.