Updated: Feb 3, 2019
It’s 11 am on May 15, 2016. I’m laying on the table in the doctor’s office, legs spread (ladies you know the drill). Meanwhile, the ultrasound technician is poking around looking for our nine-week old baby within my uterus. This teeny tiny angel who is already firmly rooted in our hearts.
We were absolutely sure this time. After all, I had made it farther into a pregnancy than any time before, so it must be ‘real’ this go round. We even new in our hearts that the baby was a little girl. Ruby Jean Haywood. Ruby, after Chris’s grandmother, the most-saintly women to walk the earth since Mother Teresa. And Jean, after my mother, the strongest, bravest and most caring woman I know.
Our precious Ruby Jean, we could not wait to meet her, hold her, and in this moment, see her on the ultrasound screen sucking her thumb (or at least, that’s how I had envisioned her).
My beautiful mother, husband, Chris and myself, wait impatiently. Watching. All of us holding our breaths.
And then the nurse spoke…
‘Uhh … Hmm… the baby is only measuring at 6 weeks, are you sure you have the conception date right? ... there is just a tiny flutter of a heart beat conducive with a 6-week fetus…’
The rest of the visit was a blur. I felt numb, and then I was a wreck. I barely even remember speaking with the doctor. Aside from the expression of deep grief and sadness on my mother’s face, (as all mother’s know, the only thing that can bring a mother this much grief, is the grief in her daughters’ heart), otherwise, I just can’t remember.
I cried. And then I cried some more. And some more. Chris held me so tight, and eventually his strength and reassurance began to calm me.
It was such a huge blow.
My heart broke that day, into more pieces than I knew possible. Chris too, was completely heart-broken. We clung to each other for the next several days like children stuck outside in a snow storm, huddling together for warmth and comfort, with no idea where to go or what to do.
We (Chris and I) are extremely fortunate, even in our most heart wrenching moments, in that we weather every storm with complete love, trust, safety, vulnerability and comfort.
I cannot imagine going through this life, multiple miscarriages, or any difficult (or joyful) experience without the unconditional support of my king of kings, my rock- my husband.
The doctor thought I would miscarry naturally and easily within 7-10 days. Unfortunately, he was wrong. I didn’t miscarry until a little past 12 weeks. Three and a half weeks of carrying a baby that I knew was no longer alive.
The waiting was the most difficult part of the whole situation.
Broken, But Filled With Love
It took just two days after the ‘doomsday doctor’s visit’ for us to decide we would close the adventures of baby-making. It was time to surrender- to let go. A decision that was oddly quite simple. We have of course discussed that decision at least 15 additional times since then; to check on one another, to make sure the decision wasn’t rash or born of grief, and just to be sure our hearts were on solid ground.
As with all facets of our life together, Chris and I have cultivated the ability ability to function in complete unison. It’s pure magic. Our lives, hearts, minds, love, values, ideals, etc.- are incredibly aligned. Even painful decisions like this one. This magic is a product of deep heart work, dedication to healing, commitment to LOVE first and foremost, and raw vulnerability.
Our love has become a gift, a gift to all in many ways...
I say this not to brag or be prideful, it just is. A significant piece of our divine purpose on this planet is our bond, our unity, our way of looking at ALL things as an adventure and our joint belief that all is and always will be ‘perfectly, damnably well’. Our ability to take the greatest of grieving and make it about love and connection is divine.
Quite frankly, I felt relieved when we made this decision. Soon, relief replaced the grief as time waged on. Our decision to suspend our baby-making efforts was the right choice for us.
This last pregnancy was extremely stressful. I was so acutely aware of every rumbling, every twinge, and every sensation, that I was either sitting in meditation so I could have some semblance of calm, or I was thinking in a frantic or fearful direction! Needless to say, I meditated A LOT during those weeks. These days, I’m not a fan of my mind running me ragged and surrender meditations shore me up- body, mind and spirit.
Yet, it was taxing. Frequent questions pouring out of my monkey mind. ‘Should I be eating that?” Should I be walking this much?” “Should I be lifting that?” “Am I calm enough?” “Was that a miscarry cramp?” “Should I go lay down?” “Oh my God, more cramps, this is it, another miscarriage.” And on and on the madness went for many weeks.
Ugh! So yes, I was extremely grateful when peace had come back into my mind and spirit, even under the worst of circumstances.
After receiving the news that our sweet Ruby Jean was 'not viable’, we quickly packed up and retreated to Mother Nature, our preferred sanctuary. First, a couple of weeks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And then, like a mystical gift from the Universe, Chris had a bit of work cancel last minute, making it possible to retreat to our favorite piece of paradise, Crested Butte, Colorado, where we held up for about a month… and where the miscarriage actually took place.
Oddly, it didn’t occur to me that a 12 + week miscarriage would be so insanely traumatic for my body, compared to the many 6-7-week miscarriages I had experienced in the past. I just kept waiting for my body to 'handle things naturally'.
Once the miscarriage began, it took an unheard of, 9 days to clear, 1 emergency room visit, more pain than I knew my body could produce, and a husband who could barely stand the sense of ‘powerlessness’ that he felt. Even our precious pup was a hot mess listening to me writhe and cry out in pain.
About 4 days into miscarrying, and while literally on a client call, I began to experience so much pain that I started to pass out. I embarrassingly and quickly ended my client call and called Chris in a panic. He was out running a few errands in the quaint little town of Crested Butte when he picked up and heard, “something is very wrong, I am in a ton of pain, I’m about to pass out, get home now, and then I hung up abruptly.”
I literally couldn’t even hold the phone. I laid down on the floor, because I knew I was going down anyway.
As you can imagine Chris was freaking out. He has never heard me sound so afraid, nor in that kind of agony. What should have been a 20-minute drive took him about 7 minutes. He arrived, quickly put me into our van, and called an EMS to meet us at the first possible location.
After the longest 30 minutes of my life, pain medicine was streaming into my veins…
Thank God, was all I could think, I’m going to be ok (ohhh the magic of intravenous pain medication)! Meanwhile, Chris was literally thinking the worst. As he followed behind the EMS, his mind was running him down a dark, scary road.
I wish I could have consoled him. Driving the 45 minutes behind the ambulance to the hospital must have been the longest ride of his life.
In the end, a piece of ‘debris’ got stuck in my cervical canal and was causing a blockage and preventing the process from continuing. It was not life-threatening, but it was EFFING painful. Yet not as painful as the following day’s contractions which were induced by medication given to me at the hospital to ‘hurry the process along’. I mean F***. I sat on the toilet screaming, balling, and screaming some more - in the most intense pain I ever hope to encounter for 3 very l-o-n-g hours.
My body was completely exhausted and remained taxed for a couple of weeks. Then I bled for several more weeks, and finally, my sacred temple began to heal… as did my and our hearts.
Why not a D&C you may ask? Well, first I thought it would go smoothly and quickly as it had several times in the past. And secondly, I wanted to trust my body. After spending so many years abusing this vessel in myriad ways, I had grown to love, care and trust it as a lovely temple, and I knew it would weather the storm. It eventually did.
We came through what was ultimately, quite an extensive ordeal, all in one piece.
The Anger Train
Most people ask me primarily 2 things related to miscarrying. One, will you try again. And two, are you angry, or angry at the Universe.
Certainly, I felt the initial blow of anger, as well as deep grief. For a brief time, there were feelings of injustice and ‘this is so unfair’. The inevitable week or so of judging other parents as I observed with envy for ignoring or acting aggressively toward their children, and wanting to yell, ‘WTF, you should be more grateful for your two legged gifts because some of us haven’t been so lucky.’ There were certainly other judgmental attitudes and thoughts for whatever perceived parenting crimes or ‘parental taking for granted’ my mind conjured up.
Thankfully, this passed quickly and was replaced with acceptance, surrender and peace. My ‘old’ life indulged more anger and resentment than was needed for any 50 lives combined and I was in no hurry to use any situation as an excuse to indulge anger again. I have no desire to live in any way other than love and peace, and refuse to use any situation (even really shitty ones) as an excuse to live outside of love.
Moving On In Love
Since I have been open about past miscarriages, many women send me messages and emails sharing their stories and journeys around baby-making. Many messages are loving and encouraging, and just as many are sad and filled with grief, depression, anxiety and suffering.
Many suffer in ways that ultimately result in tearing a couple apart. Or sometimes they finally receive the gift they have always wanted and value the child so much that the marriage and partnership falls by the way-side to fall apart.
These stories are the most heart-wrenching. To me, our journey has been about our relationship, our love, and our unity. And my wish is for all couples to turn toward, not away from each other when they are in deep pain.
If I were fortunate enough to impart any advice or lessons to others regarding our adventures in baby-making, it is this: Children may come, they may not. And even if you are blessed with children, they will grow up and create their own lives and leave at some point down the road. But your relationship will (or can) endure. Your partnership can be sustainable for your whole life.
For this to be true, it must be treated as your most important, precious, intentional and prized gift.
A beautiful and strong partnership is made up of a thousand daily decision. There are decisions that weigh the idea of punishing because you feel hurt or broken hearted; or to instead set a boundary, speak your truth, ask for what you want and need, and then love regardless of the outcome. Decisions to be annoyed when your lover forgets to do the dishes or pick up groceries, or leaves his beard clippings in the sink; or to be acutely mindful of his goodness, caring nature, kindness, and passion for you and for life.
We can choose to be open, raw and frighteningly vulnerable; or we can hold back, retreat, put on our armor or boxing gloves, and close doors to deeper connection. We can nag, complain, or tell one another what we find ‘wrong’ with him or her; or we can build them up, and fill their hearts with praise and adoration.
You always have the choice to withhold your heart and love, or give it fully and freely. Couples have the power to hurt or to heal one another. The daily choice to build or break your lover’s heart, spirt, confidence, and love, is not to be taken lightly.
I am also asked, ‘how can you accept this situation and ‘just’, move on?
First, it is the only sane choice.
And secondly, appreciation. I feel grateful, truly grateful.
While I have not been able to carry a baby to term, I have had unique experiences of being a mother and in a variety of ways. I have felt the lioness instinct to protect. The miracle of having a tiny being inside of me. The beautiful vision of Chris being a father. Love that surpasses all understanding. And the experience of having someone hear my beautiful heart beat from the inside.
I adore these gifts and am beyond thankful to have experienced these and many others. But above all, I am grateful for my (+ Chris’s) ability to let these gifts be enough. Genuinely enough...
Perhaps we aren’t meant to be traditional parents this time around the planet. Perhaps children will come by unconventionally means. Or maybe a farm full of fur children are our destiny. Whatever the answers and whatever the future holds, we choose happiness, and the amount that we already have is gorgeously enough.
I invite your stories, questions and comments publicly or privately!
Cheers to Reimagining Love!