After you’ve had a miscarriage, there will be reminders all over the place of what you lost. Letting these reminders, whatever form they might take, fill you with sadness isn’t dwelling; it’s grieving. It’s a healthy and normal way to work your way through life in the aftermath of losing something profoundly important to you. In the world of psychology, things that remind you of your loss and cause your grief to bubble to the surface are called “triggers.”
You’ll be reminded of the baby you lost when you spend time with a pregnant friend and glance down at your flat stomach thinking how it should be big and rounded by now as well.
You’ll be reminded every time someone announces a pregnancy or birth on facebook.
You’ll be reminded every time you hear a newborn baby cry.
You’ll be reminded when you look at the calendar and see your baby’s due date approaching.
You’ll be reminded when you least expect it, in the middle of a conversation with someone who knows nothing of your loss:
Earlier this week, I was at a play date with a Mom I’d never met before and her son who is the same age as mine. This woman didn’t know about my losses. She didn’t know she was triggering my grief when she told me her older son was only 17 months older than her younger son.
I could see in her face how she wanted me to say “Wow! 17 months! How did you manage?” I could tell that she was fishing for sympathy and appreciation as she told me what it was like finding out about her pregnancy when her oldest was only 9 months old and as she described the trials and tribulations of raising two babies under two years old. Babies who were now 3 and 1.5 years old.
My gut reaction was to tell her to stop. Be grateful. Please. Realize how luck you are that your younger son is here, running around and laughing with mine. My sadness and jealousy wanted me to tell her how I, too, was once expecting “two under two” and that I was thrilled and excited. But that in February I buried that baby in our backyard. That baby would be due any day now. I, too, would be about to enter a world of crazy nap coordination, two babies in diapers, and long, sleep-interrupted nights. That I would give anything to have that back.
But it’s not this woman’s fault that her baby was healthy and lived, and mine did not. The guilt I wanted to make her feel was not fair for me to do to her.
So I half-smiled and nodded. I swallowed the knot in my throat, turned my attention to my son, and waited for her to finish, before politely changing the subject.
I don’t know this woman very well yet. But maybe someday I will. And maybe then I’ll tell her about the baby we lost in the winter, and then the one we lost in the spring, too. She’ll feel bad for me for a moment. But she won’t know, not unless she’s been there herself. She won’t really know the void in my heart that won’t ever completely go away. She won’t know how every time I see her sons, so close in age, or any other siblings close together in age, that I’ll silently grieve for the two babies I lost this year, that each would have been born before my son’s second birthday.