BEEN THERE DONE THAT

It’s amazing how not over something you can be long after
you think you’ve gotten over it.  Years
can go by without a twinge, because nothing has delivered the kind of sucker
punch that forces it back to the surface of your consciousness. 

I drove into the school parking lot and turned off my
engine, prepared to wait a few minutes for the geocaching bus to arrive and for
my daughter to disembark, bearing the day’s haul of treasure.  I flipped open the magazine I’d stashed in my
car for emergency waiting-for-kids entertainment.  Brain,
Child
.

The essay recounted a woman’s experience with her first
pregnancy—and her first miscarriage.  The
details were, I’m sorry to say, all too familiar.  The initial excitement.  The confused worry.  The doctor’s pronouncement.  Blighted ovum is the official term.  “Your fetus stopped developing.” 

And I was fine reading all that.  Until she went in for a D & C.  Many people don’t realize that a miscarriage
doesn’t happen in a sudden, tragic, but momentary way.  It can take weeks for your body to do what it
must: expel what the doctors baldly call “the products of conception.”  The cervix has to dilate, just as it does for
childbirth.  And it hurts.  Like being in labor.  For weeks. 
So, many women choose to have a D & C, to get it over and done
quicker. 

It’s a cruel irony that a miscarriage involves the same
procedure you would undergo if you were terminating a pregnancy on
purpose.  Even the medical term for
miscarriage—spontaneous abortion—is awful and grating.  Sounds like you just decided to abort on the
spur of the moment.  There should be
another term that makes it clear.  The
opposite of “elective.” 

Anyway, it was the author’s D & C that did me in.  The tears came pouring out when her story turned
into my memory.  I can’t even say any
more about that.  This isn’t about my
experience, it’s about my reaction to the author’s experience. 

I read faster and faster, desperate to get to the end of the
essay so I could close the magazine, wipe my face dry, and put my sunglasses
back on before the bus arrived.  I didn’t
want to have to explain to Little Bit, or anyone else, why I was crying. 

The funny thing is, I can think about my miscarriages (I had
three) without even misting up.  After
all, I’ve accomplished my reproductive goals, and my difficulties in carrying a
pregnancy to term no longer matter.  But
reading about someone else’s knocked the whole emotional package out of its
place, safely stowed in a corner of my brain where I don’t have to look at it
anymore.  I cried for her, not for me,
because, you know, I’m over it.

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16 thoughts on “BEEN THERE DONE THAT

  1. oh bless you. My sister had a similar situation. She went in to find out the sex of her baby and they told her there was no heartbeat and then did the D&C. She was absolutely shattered for awhile, and terrified of it happening again. I only experienced it from watching her and reading stories like that still make me cry.

  2. I understand.  It’s weird you wrote this, because I was just remembering my D&C this morning, on my walk.  I was thinking about how I told my doctor that I’d be willing to get my tubes tied in January if we’ve not decided to have another baby before then, because I’ll be 40 and I have a variety of risk factors and I’ve had three c-sections already.  But I have a hard time coming to terms with the idea.  I was thinking the surgery would probably be similar, and it made me remember all that.  Even down to “blighted ovum,” which kinda sticks with you.  

  3. I understand where those tears came from, even if I haven’t experienced what you have.  I think most of us carry those stories deep within our hearts, safe from hurting us again.  But every so often something comes to the surface to break down those doors and make us feel again.  Those feelings are so much a part of our humanity and of experiences that have profoundly shaped us.  I’m sorry for your losses.

  4. As Jacqueline wrote, I haven’t had this particular experience but have found myself tearing up over similar stories I thought long buried and “gotten over.” It’s healthy to acknowledge though, I think, even if it’s more comfortable to bury. I’m really good at the burying part.

  5.  You’ve captured this so well. How we package the emotional things and stowed them safely away, out of sight till something knocks them loose again.  I hope you continue to mend, and share enough with your daughters to help them along the way. Miscarriages, and their aftermath, definitely shaped the way my family is today. Lots of parents are with you on this one.

  6. Early in our marriage we had some friends who had suffered through a half dozen soon-after-conception miscarriages.  Number seven happened a little bit later into development and required a D&C.  Emotionally devastating at the time but also apparently therapeutic – they went on to have three kids over the next five years.  And a vasectomy in year number six.

  7. It is surprising to discover how deeply and permanently certain things in life are embedded in our brains.  I’m so sorry about your miscarriages, but so happy that you have 2 beautiful girls!

  8. What a powerful essay. Much respect to you for your bravery in sharing something so personal and painful. If YOUR essay (the post above) were published in Parenting Magazine, or something similar, a whole lot of other women would be trying to get to the end of your piece, so they could wipe the tears from their faces before getting dinner out of the oven, before giving the toddler his bath, before heading out the door to work…this was so well-written. I am so sorry you experienced this, but so glad that you have both your amazing kids now, and the ability to express yourself so well. Love, Lisa

  9. I didn’t have the D&C done after my first miscarriage (only 3-4 months along)—went through the “labor and delivery process” at home, middle of the night, freaking out because I didn’t know what was happening at first.  My next miscarriage wasn’t so far along.  These were after I had meganverina so I still had my baby to hold on to until the next successful pregnancy…it all comes back in an instant even though it’s been over 20 years ago.  Hugs to you! 

  10. I didn’t have the D&C done after my first miscarriage (only 3-4 months along)—went through the “labor and delivery process” at home, middle of the night, freaking out because I didn’t know what was happening at first.  My next miscarriage wasn’t so far along.  These were after I had meganverina so I still had my baby to hold on to until the next successful pregnancy…it all comes back in an instant even though it’s been over 20 years ago.  Hugs to you! 

  11. the mind is a crazy wonderful complex thing.  pushing things under that if thought about to often would just about bury us.  what triggers an emotion or a memory and why?  who knows, tears cleanse us just when we least expect them.  and letting your girls see you cry over something that was a death isn’t always a bad thing either. 

  12. I had a miscarriage a couple years after Caleb (my #2).  I was about 10 weeks.  I hemmoraged, and it occurred to me that I was losing too much blood, about 30 seconds before I passed out.  They had told me to take my time getting to the hospital, but you can imagine we moved pretty quickly after that.  I came this close to having a blood transfusion.  The doc said I would have bled to death within the next couple hours.  So a D&C technically saved my life.  I think my emotions were different, b/c of my brush with danger.  I felt overwhelmed by all of the blessings that I had (not the least of which was 2 healthy kids).  The outpouring of love and support from our friends and family and church (and pastor) was crazy.  It was one of those times, where people would think I was living a cliche, b/c I really felt like God was sovereign over the whole thing and that baby wasn’t meant to be with us.  Then of course, I got pregnant with Julia a few months later, so now I can’t imagine things having turned out any other way.  But even my husband, has a special sympathy when he hears that someone has had a miscarriage.  I can’t imagine the pain of having several.

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