23 November 2014

Hope Is Grief's Best Music

It's a peculiar thing to share sad news on social media. A part of me just wants to disappear or post frivolity until I feel whole again, because that feels easiest. But, it doesn't feel honest, and I need to be honest in the acknowledgment of my own grief right now.

I don't know how else to broach the topic aside from the truth: we lost our baby.

We conceived mere days after I published this post, which feels ironic in itself.  I couldn't believe it when two pink lines showed up on the home pregnancy test (and then again, darker, on two more over the next several days). Once the shock subsided, elation set in. I scheduled my first prenatal appointment, ordered the pregnancy books I'd been bookmarking for nearly a year and quietly began sharing the happy news with our families and close friends. We were so thrilled.

Then, two Fridays ago, I started to feel mild cramping while teaching. I wasn't too concerned by it, because everything I read suggested it was normal, especially at six weeks, and that I only needed to worry if the cramping was accompanied by bleeding. By Saturday, I began spotting lightly. My worry increased, but I didn't want to let myself crumble into full-on anxiety unless I had a valid reason, so I moved my doctor's appointment up to earlier in the week to help alleviate my fears. I happened to have two photo shoots that day which kept me busy and distracted. Sunday passed uneventfully, but I still went to sleep feeling unsettled.

When I woke up on Monday morning, I knew from excruciating physical evidence and a hollow feeling deep in my gut that a miscarriage was underway. Two blood tests and one ultrasound later, my worst fear was confirmed: I wasn't pregnant anymore.

The emotional anguish is unlike anything I've ever experienced. My little world came to a screeching halt while the rest of the world continues to spin. It feels particularly unfair because of how long we waited for this baby. I experienced a dark moment right after it happened where I wished we hadn't ever found out we were expecting, because to be given a gift as sweet as that after months of praying for it--only to have it ripped away shortly thereafter--feels especially cruel. I also have this overwhelming sense of guilt that because this all unfolded in a matter of weeks, we didn't have the opportunity to tell everyone we were planning on telling, and now they're finding out about both the pregnancy and the miscarriage here. I know that worry seems insignificant and ridiculous, but it matters to me.

Due to the unfortunate physical repercussions of miscarriage, I was at home on doctor-ordered bed rest for a whole week. Now that I've been back at work for several days and am slowly catching up on answering client emails & editing photo sessions, I feel a little bit lost. Reinstating a "normal" routine is both restorative and heart-breaking.

I've found some solace in reading other people's stories about pregnancy loss while curled up in bed, although it makes me ache to know that so many women have these stories to share. 1 in 5. Twenty percent. That's a sobering statistic, and one that keeps flashing through my brain over and over again. 

How can something so common be so painful?


Do you believe in signs? I do. Some of you may remember that I lost my maternal grandmother on my birthday two years ago. She was a woman I resemble in a lot of eerily similar ways, and when I noted the date once it was confirmed we lost this baby, it didn't surprise me that it was her birthday: November 11th (11:11). I cried and cried and cried because of the significance. You see, my nana experienced two or three miscarriages in between the births of her three children. My sister, who rushed to meet me and Tiho after my initial doctor's appointment, tenderly pointed out that maybe the timing of this was nana conveying that she is here with me, holding my hand and letting me know that it is going to be okay. 

I wrestled for a while in deciding whether or not to post this. I considered waiting until we had happy news to share, but you know what? Sometimes life is sad and uncertain, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm human, you're human and we all go through tough shit. It's confusing, because while I certainly don't want this struggle to define me, it is a part of me now. I share because it's all I know how to do. I don't believe human beings are meant to suffer alone: by writing this down, I hope that somebody, somewhere, feels even the smallest sense of comfort, solidarity, connection or understanding.

I know we will heal and move forward from this and eventually conceive another baby. If there is any shred of goodness to be found in this experience, it is the knowledge that my body is capable of getting pregnant on its own. I strongly feel the presence of a tiny soul close by who is fighting hard to find us, too (maybe that makes me sound nutty, but so be it). I am equally excited and terrified by the prospect of trying again. In the end though, isn't that what parenthood is all about? Beauty and terror? Loving your child(ren) so fiercely that absolutely nothing trumps their wellbeing? Feeling your heart lurch outside of your body in the wake of their harm?

I came across these words in a children's book at exactly the right time. They perfectly convey my emotions surrounding this neverborn child: 

"I wanted you more than you ever will know...
So I sent love to follow wherever you go.
In the green of the grass...in the smell of the sea...
In the clouds floating by...at the top of a tree...
At the sound crickets make at the end of the day...
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved...they all say."


*Painting by Beth Allen. It makes me feel connected, and for that, I am grateful. Despite how profoundly sucky this whole situation has been, I am still grateful. Grateful for my ability to feel things intensely, grateful for unfettered trust in the universe, and, more than anything, grateful for hope.

P.S. Below, some additional reading if you're interested (it helps to know we aren't alone when navigating the complexity of this poignant heartbreak):

Suite 994 (I've followed this blog for years. I returned the other day and re-read her entire archive).

21 comments:

  1. Kayla, I know it's been some time since we chatted, but I came across your site again today and read your works, and my heart absolutely goes out to you. I can only imagine how difficult a time you're going through, but when it all does work out, you will cherish your little one in a way that's beyond measure of words or time and space. Sending you lots of love and hope for the future, because you do have such a bright future and so much love to share.

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    1. Thank you so much, Brandi. Your words bring comfort and peace. I hope all is well with you.

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  2. I am not sure how it's possible, but your writing always seems to transcend struggle by turning pain into beauty. I am in such awe of you Kay; of your strength, courage ,wisdom and fierce desire to spread more love into this world. I believe so deeply that this soul is up there, waiting for the right time. Keep on keeping on, sister lou. I love you to pieces.

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    1. Don't know if I would've gotten through without you, pistah.

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  4. Kayla, my beautiful daughter, I wish I could take away the sorrow and give you a magic wand. You are incredibly courageous allowing others into a very personal experience. I wish I could have offered you a reasonable explanation several weeks back, only knowing all too well, I could not. I am supposed to provide the holding place for your feelings and do my best to keep you from being hurt. What I can do is be your hope. I love you and I have great faith that you will be an extraordinary mother one day. Thank you for your sharing. Your words are exquisitely vulnerable and touch the heart with unfathomable wisdom. I love you and I gently cradle your heart in my hands.

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    1. If one day, I am even half the mom that you are, all will be well. <3

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  5. I'm so sorry, Kayla. I know that you will have your baby and the family you dream of one day, but until then I hope that the pain is not too great and that you're able to get through this with as much ease as possible. I can't even imagine how this must feel. Through the heartache that has found its way into my life, I've learned and do my best to be optimistic. Life is so much easier and often works out in the best way when you look at it with optimism. Sending you a big hug and lots and lots of good vibes.

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    1. Thank you, Eva, I so appreciate it. It gets easier with each day, and I've never lost my optimism...not once. I hope I can always say that.

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  6. Oh my sweet faraway friend... I am so sorry for the anguish you are going through. You are so strong and I know you will move through this and forward with a hopeful heart. Sending my love and a great big hug to you,
    Erin x

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  7. Oh Kayla, I'm so very sorry. I do believe in signs, and the 11:11 significance is very touching. Sending love to both you + Tiho.

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  8. Oh friend, I am sending you all the love–the strength, it seems, you already have in spades. In awe of your grace and honesty.

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  9. Thank you for writing this. I have suffered a miscarriage as well. It came as a huge shock as I wasn't aware of how common it is. That is when I decided that as much as it is a delicate, personal situation, it is absolutely worth sharing. Just like you, I thought, if by any chance it will help even one woman feel like she is not alone, then it would be worth it. What helped me was the thought that everything in this world happens for a reason. There was probably a lesson that I haven't yet learned and needed to. Life must have the right timing and everything must be in line for such beautiful miracles to happen. Now, being 33 weeks pregnant, I absolutely believe it!
    It is sad that it happened to you as well and like you said, it will always be a part of who you are, but even though right now it consumes your every thought, it does not define you. I am looking forward to seeing you share the good news in the near future!

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  10. I read your blog always, Kayla. When I started to read your words this time, I almost stopped because I didn't want to intrude further or read what I knew was to come. Know that you are one of the special people in the world. Your words shed light, warmth and color in this place that is all too often cold and cruel. Hold on tight right now and take light and warmth from others. Your heart will sing again. Blessings to you. ~ Katherine

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  11. So sorry to read what you are going through. As I'm sure you've heard so many times before, I also had an early miscarriage a few months before conceiving my daughter. It was a terrible feeling but looking back, I know it all worked out for the best. All that to say you should allow yourself your grief but I hope you'll have the same good luck I had and know it won't always feel as it does now.

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  12. I'm so sorry, Kayla. Sending so much love.

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  13. Dear Kayla, I have been reading your blog for years. I don't remember how I came across your blog, but I guess I started to read it since I came to New York from China in 2009. I like all the colorful and beautiful things presented here and captured by your camera, which are always encouraging and fun, full of strength and warmth. I am sorry to hear about your loss. One of my friend had the same experience two years ago, but now she is living happily with her daughter. Sometimes misfortune may happen, but in the end everything is going to be fine. I hope it is not too impolite for me, a stranger, to reply such a private entry. I just hope to give you some encouragement and warmth as your blog has always given to me. With warm thoughts. --Wei

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Your thoughts always bring a smile to my face. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave them.