Like many women I have a love-hate relationship with my own body. I range from absolute hatred and shame to acceptance, with maybe occasional sides of love. I don't have to explain to you why, if you're a woman in this world you already know. But things have changed a lot in my head and heart and spirit over the last five years. It all really started in the summer of 2008.
I found out I was pregnant with our second child within a couple weeks of deciding to go back to work. My oldest was 2 and starting daycare for the first time. I was going back to a job I really liked and I was ready for the challenges that working part time would bring. And then I just had the feeling that I was pregnant. I was afraid I was pregnant, I really didn't want to be. And then we had the positive test and then I just got happy about it, because that's what you do in this life to survive.
But since those first few minutes I knew something was wrong, I just didn't feel right. It wasn't physical as much as spiritual. I just knew that this pregnancy was not going to go full term. I hated myself for thinking and feeling this way, but in my mama heart I knew this Truth. I didn't tell anyone about this knowledge because it was blasphemous. And then the bleeding came at 9 weeks. We rushed for an ultrasound and were told there was no heartbeat. I visited with the midwife and discussed my options. I decided to let nature take Her course, because I think we should always err on the side of Mother Nature. I also couldn't think about dealing with people or the health care system. I thought I should feel the contractions and live through it. It wasn't punishment, it was honoring the life that wasn't going to be. And so I had a very painful and heartbreaking 24 hours, mostly spent alone in the bathroom or pacing the bedroom.
If you have never miscarried, then you may not know that there's blood and more blood. More blood than I thought I could lose without being faint or dying. The contractions were like birth pains. They were birth pains, if we are going to be honest. The only way I could cope was the pacing. I walked the bedroom all day, avoiding my child and mother-in-law downstairs. And then I'd spend 20 minutes in the bathroom, change the pad and go back to pacing. I did this for hours. And that night I paced in the living room, trying to drink grape juice, watching the Democratic Convention and listening to Barack Obama accept the party's nomination. In some ways that was one of my happiest and most hopeful nights and the very worst night of my life. I am grateful to have had the distraction of a historical moment, otherwise I don't know if I could have managed so well.
But after the physical part was over, I really didn't suffer much emotionally. I don't feel guilty for not spending days in bed or otherwise giving over to grief. I really didn't feel grief. I don't know what to call it, but grief or mourning wasn't it. But there was a deep pain, both physical and spiritual.
I decided on that hot night that I was going to start taking care of this body of mine. I was going to get back into running and starting focusing on nutrition. I also wanted to lose weight, the weight I was always hoping to lose, but rarely actually doing much about. This miscarriage was like a 'reset to default' for my life. I have no idea why I felt that way, but it is still how I feel about that experience. I am not happy that we lost a child, but I also don't think of that pregnancy as a real person. I never did. I suppose this is a coping mechanism, a defense. Whatever it is, it feels true to me.
And now I know I can do anything. Absolutely anything.
There are other important milestones on my journey to self-love and acceptance (I'm still working on it). I'll share them in future posts.