The baby that is not.
July 17, 2009

I was pregnant once before.

The peculiar thing about miscarriage, the one aspect of it that I still cannot understand, is that a life is lost.  One day, my belly held our future.  The next day, it did not.  One day, there were two hearts here, two lives here, two people here.  The next day, there was only one.

When you miscarry, your entire world changes.

You tell yourself that it isn’t your fault, that these things happen.  You tell yourself that prenatal development is complex and that, like any other intricate function, sometimes it goes wrong.  That it is better this way, instead of losing a child you have met and held and known.  That there would have been something so terribly wrong, that your baby would have lead a shell of a life.  That your body knew best.  That this experience will make you a better parent down the road, that it just wasn’t time, that you can have another baby.

But you know its bullshit.  You want THAT baby, YOUR baby, not a different one.  You already love THAT baby, YOUR baby, and you mourn as such.  You have a void inside that you can never fill, a death within that you can never forget, a loss that haunts you day and night.  You have a new reality, one that includes a BEFORE and an AFTER.  You know that life will never be the same.  So while you tell yourself these things that people say you should believe, you also tell yourself horrible, horrible things.

You tell yourself that you’re less of a woman.  That your body has made you a murderer.  That you do not deserve happiness.  That nobody understands this pain.  Nobody.  That you have no future left.  You feel that you have let your husband down, that because of something inherently wrong with you, he has been cheated.  You feel that you have been let down, that because you have lived well, you did not deserve this, that you have been cheated.

When I found out that I was pregnant a second time, I felt like I was betraying the child I had never had.  I worried, feared, considered, cried.  We had always planned to hang small ornament frames in the hallway - about 3 inches by 3 inches - with each child’s ultrasound image.  I made my husband swear upon his life that we would include the baby we lost.  Then Donald and I picked up the pieces and devoted every ounce of energy we had to loving, protecting, and cherishing our second chance.  Our second pregnancy.  Our second child.

Every day brings me closer to meeting the baby squirming within.

People ask me all the time if I am afraid of the pain of delivery.  They ask a lot of things, but most of all, I notice the people who ask if I am apprehensive about giving birth.  I am not, I tell them.  I have a very strong faith in my body and in my body’s capacity to expel a child from my womb.  (After all, I think to myself, it has already done so once).

But the closer I come to delivery, the more prevalent one unspeakable anxiety becomes.  There may be no dread here of experiencing labor and delivery, no qualms about the pain and discomfort that naturally accompany this rite of passage, but I still remember the way my body let me down when I needed it most.  It’s the sort of thing you never forget.

I think about this all the time.  There is only one fear now and that is this:

What if my body fails me again?


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  1. By Brittany at Mommy Words on July 17, 2009

    I know this exact feeling.  I wrote about my miscarriage recently and it was more than a year ago.  I wrote about it on the day in this pregnancy when I lost that beaitiful baby.  It still haunts me.  I saw the baby I lost at 10 weeks and I have never been more sad.  I did want to let you know though that my fear subsided in labor ith Miles, who I had post miscarriage.  I could feel him, string and healthy, and I really thought I could feel my angel baby with us.  Now, my due date is days from that of the baby that I lost.  He or she is smiling on me…I am almost past my first trimester!  Good Luck!

  2. By Elizabeth on July 17, 2009

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Nothing that anyone can say really makes it better. Pregnancy is such a time of great fear especially after you lose one or more. No one really seems to understand.

    I wish you the best will your labor and delivery! You will have the loving support of your husband and will hopefully be in good hands by your doctor.

  3. By Carlyn on July 17, 2009

    This broke my heart, I do not have children, I am not pregnant, but a few months ago, I did have a miscarraige. I was devistated. I did feel like a murderer, and that I let Kip down. Thats right around the time I found your blog, and I will not lie, my first thought “oh crap a lucky one” until I saw that you too had a misscarraige, and I think its what drew me to you more, I found hope.

    Your body will not fail you again, your body will do you justice because you deserve it to, because you’ve fought for it.

  4. By Megan R. on July 17, 2009

    It is so easy to refelet on the things that have gone wrong in the past, especially when embarking on the antithises of that moment in the current time.  It seems surreal.  I know that my husband and I have been through 3 early miscarriages, and we always felt like we had failed somehow…and that we were broken.  This new journey, albeit difficult, proves that there is still a plan for success for us….and this success will fell all the more sweeter given the sad and bumpy road it took to get here.  None of us will ever forget the losses, but hopefully holding our new miracles in our arms will lessen the pain and allow us to realize the full fruition of our wants and ambitions.

    Sorry for all the losses that Sarah and any commenters have made.  Such a difficult thing to endure.  I

  5. By Mama Bub on July 17, 2009

    I can’t imagine that kind of pain and also, that kind of frustration.  Pregnancy and, by extension, motherhood, seems to bring all of our worst fears to the surface.  To have something concrete to base those fears on must compound the anxiety to an extent I can’t comprehend.  Here’s wishing you strength, because you CAN do this.

  6. By Stephanie on July 17, 2009

    Hi Sarah,

    Speaking from my own, personal experience, it did get so much better after I had my daughter. I began to think of the lost one less but I will never forget. Before my daughter turned 1, my husband and I planted a Sand Cherry tree in the backyard for the one we lost. We lost it at 10 1/2 weeks and never had an ultrasound picture or got to hear the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. But now with the tree in the backyard, who we named Sandy, we can take comfort in seeing something else so beautiful grow and flourish in the first baby’s honour.

    I was terrified my entire pregnancy with my daughter - and to make things worse, that pregnancy had problems too putting me at high risk. This time around, because my daughter is now 2, I have less time to worry about this pregnancy and as it turns out, it’s going much better.

    I think I even had the same attitude as you about labour - I just wanted to hold my baby so bad, and I’d do it over and over again just to have her in my arms.

    Good luck! I hope the baby comes soon. :)

  7. By Jes on July 17, 2009

    I don’t know what’s worse, never being able to conceive and month after month your body failing. Or to get that flitter of hope but to have it so quickly dashed. I truly don’t know. But what I do know is that the pain associate with either situation is gut wrenching and devasting. But because each of us knows this type of pain we are that much better comforters for others. I think that is the only consolation. We know there is nothing that can be said or done to make it better or to feel right. We just know that sometimes is nice to have someone to cry with.

  8. By tracy on July 17, 2009

    I have never had a miscarriage & won’t pretend to know the pain that you have endured. But, sweetie, your body will not fail you this time. You will hold your baby in your arms. Yes, your labor will be painful, but you can handle it. If I could do it, you can do it. And once he/she is out, the pain is instantly over. Just keep telling yourself that :)

  9. By Cate Subrosa on July 17, 2009

    Your body didn’t fail you, it did an amazing job of recognising an anomaly (for want of a better word) making sure neither you nor your offspring came to any harm (besides the emotional of course, which I know is immense).

    Your body is amazing. It will know how to birth like it knew how to gestate. All you have to do is trust it. Good luck, Sarah.

  10. By Stephanie on July 17, 2009

    I agree with the previous poster, Cate.

    Your body didn’t fail you. Bodies have an intriging way of knowing when and if something is terribly wrong and not going to work for the best, so it does what it’s made to do, protect you and that baby, from an inevitable future. I truly believe that bodies just KNOW what they’re doing and how to do it, so here’s to hopeing for the best labor and delivery possible.

  11. By Lori on July 17, 2009

    Trust your body. Trust yourself. Listen to the voice inside you that says you know how to grow this baby, how to bring forth this child, how to nourish your baby. You know how to be a mother.

  12. By Lindsey on July 17, 2009

    Trust in yourself, your body and nature.  I’m sorry you went through the other and I hope you have an uncomplicated labor.  Sometimes in life, there’s too much time to sit around, worry and wonder.  I hate that for you and I hope all is well.

    I’m excited to hear about the birth of your child and what you’ll say about the whole experience in the end. You’re a very talented writer/photographer and I look forward to what it to come.

  13. By erin on July 17, 2009

    I cannot imagine losing a child, unborn or otherwise.  I have been lucky in that I have never experienced that and hope I never will.  My heart breaks for you and Donald and your babies.

    I think your body will not fail you.  After all, it has brought you this far.  I think it did not truly fail you before.  You probably know that in your head and yet your heart still worries.

    I found Matt Logelin’s blog about 6 weeks before TK was born.  It broke my heart to read it (I’m the kind of gal who reads back posts to find out what happened before) and probably was not the best thing for an 8 mos pregnant woman to read, but.  Even though I knew academically that there was no reason for anything to happen to me, with modern medicine and all, I still couldn’t help but worry.  After all, what if I didn’t die during childbirth but something happened to me after and my baby did not have her mother, and my husband did not have his wife, and our family was no longer a family?

    It is scary, to be sure.  Even though I knew what my body was doing when I was in labor, I was still scared.  Whatifwhatifwhatifwhatifwhatif went through my head the entire time.  And despite my doubt, my lack of faith, I have still been blessed with this happy, healthy, beautiful baby.  I have no doubt that you will be too.

  14. By Megan on July 17, 2009

    Sarah, I think this is what optimism and hope are for.  WE WILL NEVER know all the what ifs of life.  We can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, or even in 10 minutes.  Horrible things happen (9/11, Columbine, murders, rapes, miscarriages) all the time, but we move forward with a renewed sense of ...fill in the blank. 

    I hope you get to meet your second baby as soon as possible!

    Much love and peace to you in the last few days of incubation : )

  15. By Aljolynn on July 17, 2009

    Sarah, I haven’t any experience in what you’ve been through or what you’re feeling and I wish that I had words of wisdom but all that I can offer you is a *hug* which can’t even be given in person.

    So a web-hug it is.  I embrace you as a stranger, admirer (in the sane way not the SWF way - as in I f’in love your writing and blog) ,woman, and mother. 

    I’m sure that you and your body will do magnificently.

    Cheers.

  16. By tracey on July 17, 2009

    Sadly, there are no guarantees in anything in life, least of all parenthood. I cannot promise that life will be roses and sunshine once the baby is born. No one can. I do remain so grateful that I delivered my children in this generation instead of any that preceded us. We have such a greater chance of safe deliveries for both mother and child. The heartache that was so commonplace with pregnancy and birth in generations past is but a fraction for those of us who are lucky enough to become mothers nowadays.

    Take care. Take deep breaths. Cherish what you can while you’re on this Earth. It is my mantra when I feel inadequate and unfocused.

    Be kind to yourself. I know that you KNOW that it is of no fault that your first pregnancy miscarried. Allow yourself the same grace and forgiveness that you would bestow upon a friend or sister, should she have suffered the miscarriage instead of you…

  17. By Mommica on July 17, 2009

    I had a miscarriage before my successful pregnancy, too. When I got pregnant for the second time, I was comforted by the idea that this was that same soul from my first pregnancy, trying again…

    Everything is going to be just as it should be: Perfect.

  18. By TheFeministBreeder on July 17, 2009

    That is a really beautiful way to put it, Mommica. 

    I have never lost a baby, but I imagine that would be terribly difficult.  But I also agree that your body didn’t fail you.  Your body performed a miraculous feat of recognizing what was not right, and righting it.  Of course that still hurts, but all you can think is that if you’d had that baby, you probably wouldn’t have had this one, and you were meant to have this one.

    You’ll do great.

  19. By maggie may on July 17, 2009

    I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks recently. I totally understand. But before that? I had two beautiful healthy babies. The last one, my daughter, was born without drugs or any interventions of ANY kind in a tub. Your body will do it’s job beautifully.

  20. By Elizabeth on July 17, 2009

    I, also, miscarried before Hunter was born.  Those are the thoughts you get when you are overdue.  I’m so sorry that you are feeling those things.  I had two terribly emotional weeks, while overdue with Susannah.  I am praying for you, Sarah.  Peace and joy be with you….

  21. By Bea on July 17, 2009

    Miscarriages stay with you forever, I’m sure. This coming Thursday is my due date for my first child, my first child that I miscarried in December. My second miscarriage, in February, I did not even calculate the due date for as I was so anxious about the whole pregnancy - anxiety that was, sadly, well placed.

    I am so apprehensive about being pregnant a third time that I can not help but wonder if this is why I have not become pregnant again..yet.

    I have a lost a faith in my body and I’m not sure how to get it back, but know that I must if we are to meet our third child.

    Much love to you and your baby, I’m cheering for you as you triumph what I hope to one day too.

  22. By Jasmine on July 18, 2009

    We just found out we were pregnant. We had a miscarriage before this pregnancy…. I get my second blood test to find out if my hormone panel has risen….and I am freaking the hell out!!!
    My prayers will be with you.

  23. By Melissaand3boys on July 18, 2009

    I, too, had miscarriages, one before my oldest son was conceived, and several before my twins were conceived.  I think that your pain is still so fresh because you haven’t yet held this baby and until you do you won’t feel quite there yet.  It’s a pretty big unknown that is looming out there for you and once you’ve had the experience of having something bad happen, you know that you aren’t immune to it.

    You were talking statistics not long ago, though.  An early miscarriage is far, far, far more likely than a late term problem.  There isn’t really any reason to think that you won’t be holding your baby in your arms very soon.

  24. By Fairly Odd Mother on July 18, 2009

    There have been so many wise and wonderful comments made, let me just send you a virtual {{hug}}} with sincere hopes that one of your next posts will be about you having delivered a happy and healthy baby. I’m so sorry you had to endure such heartache once before.

  25. By on July 19, 2009

    Have you ever read about the “law of attraction”? Focus on the positives. Draw them to you.

  26. By on July 19, 2009

    In other words, focusing on what you want to have happen rather than what you are afraid of. It’s powerful stuff…and hard to give up thinking all the fear-filled things. But it can release you and let the good flow into your life. This sounds all hooky-pokey when I write it out, but I’m living proof it works. I think you are brave and strong in willing to open up and talk about this. Positive affirmations can’t hurt you! Try them….

  27. By Mrs. Flinger on July 19, 2009

    I think you already know this about me, that I miscarried THE CYCLE before I got pregnant with O. As in, I really thought my cycle was screwy from the miscarriage and had no clue I was pregnant again until I was much further along the second time.

    Your body is amazing. The fact that kids are born at ALL really freaks me out. I look at my children and think, “I GREW YOU.“

    I still think this. My five year old gets a little grossed out if I say it.

    You will both come through this wonderfully. You will sit and stare in awe as she grows and walks and then talks and then gets on the school bus. You’ll look at her and marvel at this moment, the one RIGHT BEFORE you met her.

    And you’ll mutter, “I grew her.“

    P.S. It’s a her. Obviously I know these things.

  28. By Boy Crazy on July 19, 2009

    Wishing you a beautiful birth and a healthy baby.

  29. By chelle on July 20, 2009

    gah! I totally stumbled upon you. So sorry for your loss. We too lost a baby after our first was born. When I got pregnant again I was tortured throughout the pregnancy with guilt that I loved the baby growing inside me, therefore I was betraying the one we lost.

    Then we met our baby boy. It was like he channeled the essence of the lost baby. He represents all the love that we could have for any child that is our own.

    Now as I am about to (hopefully very soon) have our third baby, I still embrace the lost heart beat, the lost soul, the one that could have been, but not with the same vigilance and determination as I did when the pain was still so so fresh.

    I wanted to share, so you knew that some stranger far far away felt similar feelings and that you are not alone. Have faith :)

  30. By caramama on July 23, 2009

    You are busy right now having a baby and caring for your infant. I have faith that your body did its job and you are both doing well.

    Having my daughter really did help ease the heartache of my miscarriage. I will never forget it or truly get over it, but it has been easier with my (now two) children in my life. I hope the same is true for you.


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