I had a rough week, last week. I don’t typically talk about my feelings (like, I did once and it was a BIG deal for my family and friends). But, I think I’m going to make an exception today. Sometimes, we all need a good reminder that bad things happen to other people and we really have no idea what sorrows others are carrying as we pass in and out of each other’s lives.
I am not writing this to single anyone out, to shame anyone, or for sympathy. I’m sure there are people that will read this who will be like, “Oh. My. God. Why didn’t you say something;” and I’ll explain why I didn’t. Why I couldn’t. Like I said, I had a rough week… and I did a lot of thinking. I’m lucky that everyone I interacted with last week was kind and gentle and supportive. But I couldn’t help thinking about how I would have reacted, what I would have done, how I would have crumbled… if I had come up against just one nasty person.
Last week, I had a miscarriage.
It was the second one we’d suffered in the past five months. This baby was very much wanted, thought about, planned, and prayed for. I was devastated. But, because I’m a mom of two, life does not just stop. I could not simply crawl into a ball and lay in bed (though I really wanted to). There were things to be done and no one to do them except mom.
When I suffered our first miscarriage in December, it began on a Friday and we didn’t have too much planned for the weekend. I called my husband, he came right home from work, and I laid in bed the rest of the day and the entire next day. On Sunday, I ventured out twice and by Monday, I was completely back to my routine. That was a straightforward miscarriage and I was emotionally wrecked (yet I was still back to my routine in a matter of days). What happened last week was even more messy, uncertain, and emotional.
After I miscarried in December, my husband was not sure he wanted to try again. We have two beautiful, healthy, energetic, and, most importantly, potty trained boys.
The ordeal had been emotionally draining for both of us. As we talked through things, he expressed how hard it had been for him to watch me suffer and to worry about my health. He did not want to risk that again. I told him that the risk was worth it to me. However, I conceded, if we had another sad outcome, we could be done trying. That promise was easy to make when it was theoretical, but last week’s miscarriage carried an extra weight: the weight of knowing this was our last chance at growing our family.
This time was also different because we knew right away something was wrong with the pregnancy, it was just a matter of figuring out what, exactly. This meant three trips back and forth to the hospital for blood draws and lots of waiting on hormone levels. My OBGYN and nurses prepared me: the pregnancy could be ectopic, molar, a miscarriage, or it could be fine. The hormone levels and changes would reveal all.
We waited. But, life doesn’t stop just because you have no idea what’s going on inside of your body. There are still lunches to pack, kids to drop off, practices to attend, dinners to make, and let’s face it, so so so much more. Lying in bed is not an option. Not for moms, anyway.
In an attempt to accurately illustrate just how much we have no idea what burdens others are carrying with them, I’d like to list just some of the interactions I had with people outside of my family from the time I found out that something was wrong until the time I had fully miscarried.
Let’s start with work.
I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) online. For me, it is very part time and I work from home. The kids I work with range in age from 3-14 (or at least that’s the youngest and oldest I’ve had).
In the time when I knew something was off until I had fully miscarried, I taught twenty classes. Moments before one of these classes I was in tears. Moments before another class, much worse… but, we’ll get to that later. I pulled it together and got it done.
Of course, I had the option to cancel classes, but being unsure of what exactly was happening (and having in the back of my mind the thought of possibly needing surgery or a procedure in the near future), I decided to power through. After all, I didn’t really know what was going on and I might need those allowed cancellations more in the future.
Though I know my students’ parents will never see this or read it, I’d like to sincerely thank them for not choosing last week to tell me all of the things I could have done better. I wouldn’t have been able to take it. And, while we’re at it, thanks for not mentioning my puffy eyes either.
Then, there’s the volunteering.
I volunteer with our church’s Religious Education program. The Sunday in the middle of this time was our monthly meeting. I was completely unprepared. I hadn’t forgotten about it, but I also couldn’t bring myself to prepare for it. I’m sure I could have rescheduled. But, if I had, I felt like I’d need to give a reason and I wasn’t ready to give that out, yet.
So, instead, I sat in a room full of parents and kids and told them I’d had a rough week. That’s why I had little prepared for them. They were beyond supportive. No one pried. They prayed for me and my family, and I was able to let it slip from my mind for a bit. Until Mass started. Then I sobbed quietly alone in my pew.
I also volunteer as the Branch Ambassador for the Rutland/Killington branch of Hike it Baby. During this time, I had two hikes scheduled. I did end up canceling one, but only because I needed to be at the hospital getting blood drawn. I actually tried to figure out a way, timing wise, where I wouldn’t have to cancel… but then I realized I was being ridiculous.
I didn’t, however, cancel the second hike. I attended and here, for the first time in person, I told a friend what was going on. She did all of the right things, offered to help in any way she could, offered to watch the kids so I could rest, offered anything and everything I needed. But, I didn’t take her up on any of it. Why not? IDK, because moms have to be strong, I guess.
Of course, we had sports.
During this time, I took my five year-old to two T-ball practices and I brought my younger son with me too. I sat next to other parents and made small talk. All the while, pretending everything was fine.
On the second to last day of the ordeal, I manned T-ball practice alone. My husband had left on a business trip earlier that day. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. I stayed home with two kids while my husband traveled for work as I was miscarrying.
On this particular day, my younger son was especially ill-behaved, but TBH, I just did not have the energy or emotional capacity to discipline him. I’m sorry, other T-ball parents (and coaches). And, thank you for not making me feel awful for it. I would have cracked.
There was also blogging.
I write for three different blog teams. Luckily for me, in that time, I had nothing due for one of those blogs. I did for the other two. But, also luckily me for me, the owners of both of those blogs are so unbelievably supportive and understanding. They both knew what was going on and offered support. One offered to cover my responsibilities until I was a-okay again (but, like, when will that be?). The other offered to move back due dates and then point blank told me to go lie down and watch Netflix. She even gave me Netflix recommendations.
But, writing took my focus somewhere else. I needed that. If I had gone to rest, I’d have fallen into the deepest, darkest Google hole imaginable and we all know that is not a good place to be. So, I wrote. If you’re curious, here and here are the two posts I ended up producing.
And social events.
Because kids don’t understand changes in routine and I felt the incessant need to stay busy, we kept every social event we had preplanned. That means that we drove from Rutland to Bennington to pick up a car, then from Bennington to Montpelier to drop off the car. Then from Montpelier to Morrisville to visit with important friends we hadn’t seen in a while.
Here, I pretended everything was a-okay and silently prayed no one asked if we were planning to have more kids (I’m fairly certain that would have opened the floodgates). I avoided offers of drinks, because if you know you’re pregnant- even if you also know you’re likely to miscarry, you still don’t drink (even though there is probably not a single time in your life you are more in need of a drink). Saying no to a drink automatically sets off red flags, and the last thing you want is to be called out and forced into heavy explaining. Nobody asked for that and nobody really wants that. Even if they did ask.
On the last day of the entire ordeal, my youngest and I attended a Mommy and Me playgroup. It was well attended, and as always there were lots of mommies and babies. I probably could have brought it up here amongst other moms. I’m sure someone would have been able to relate. But, what if I cried in front of them? I only casually know them. And when people ask how you’re doing… do they really want to know all of the gory details? Or, are they just being polite? I’m not so sure.
Let us not forget school pick-up and drop off.
During the testing and subsequent miscarriage, I hit school pick-up and drop-off on six different days. I small-talked with no fewer than five people each of those days. On at least one of those days, we stayed at the playground after pick-up for about an hour. Because how do you say no? And why?
On the second to last day, as I was walking out of school after dropping my 5 year-old at PreK, I felt it happening. Those who have miscarried before know exactly what I’m talking about. There is a moment when your body lets go of the majority of the pregnancy (the delicate wording the nurse used to prepare me is completely escaping my mind). I walked as quickly as possible to my car, pausing briefly twice to force a smile and say “hi” to other parents in the parking lot. Then, I drove home as quickly as I could (it’s close, only about 3 minutes away). I went into the house and directly into the bathroom. I cried and called my husband into the bathroom and he held me.
Within five minutes, I was teaching a class online. Because, how was I supposed to know it was going to happen then? And, what would I have done, instead, anyway?
I could add a million more small things I did with and for my family over those eight days, but I won’t. I’m sure you get the picture. I don’t say any of this because I think my story is any worse than anyone else’s. The scary thing is, I think moms pushing through their daily routines while silently suffering is far more common than anyone realizes.
Time does not stop for a mom just because she’s grieving a loss. She might want to open up, let it all out, tell you, and cry. But, maybe she’s not able to because t-ball starts in ten minutes and her 5 year-old just doesn’t understand why mommy can’t get it together today.
I guess what I’m saying, what I really mean for this post, is just to remind you to be kind. When you pass another mom at pick-up or drop-off, smile and say “hi”, hold the door, and be polite. If you’re able to, of course, that is if you’re not carrying an immense weight or burden, yourself.