“Sometimes when life doesn’t work out as you planned, there is a greater force at work.” — Deanna Kahler
WARNING: If you have had a traumatic experience with miscarriages, SID, stillbirths, etc. let me first say that I am so sorry. Second, some things in this piece might be triggering. Please don’t read this if you’re still grieving.
I looked up at the clock in the UVA Hospital waiting room. We were heading into hour five of sitting in a room that smelled strongly like hand sanitizer and faintly like cough syrup. One of the fluorescent lights flickered as a Charlottesville news anchor cheerfully listed off tips to keep pets warm during the winter.
During our stay, we saw a drunk guy handcuffed to a wheelchair. We saw a sweet little babe with a nasty cough. We saw a man get wheeled back into a hallway that felt like it led into the Twilight Zone. I could only catch a glimpse of the hallway before the heaviest doors I had ever seen slammed shut.
It was supposed to be a happy weekend. I took off that Friday to visit her classroom and celebrate her pregnancy that she learned about a few weeks earlier. As soon as I arrived, I knew something was horribly wrong.
By the time she saw a doctor, they confirmed what she already knew. She had miscarried. To make things even worse, she was going to have to come in for a follow-up appointment to make sure she wasn’t experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
“Sorry, you lost your baby. Also, you might have to get an invasive surgery that is going to cost you a nice chunk of change. Byeeeeee.” (I know it’s not the doctor’s fault, but it was so blunt and unexpected.)
Ten hours of waiting, no food and prolonged pain and bleeding had worn my sister down. She took the news well at the hospital, but when we got home a little after 3 a.m., I could hear her crying softly upstairs.
When parents have to bury their children, their pain is ours. We offer support. We talk about the child. We start foundations and scholarships to keep their memory alive.
These gestures are the best of humanity, but when it comes to miscarriages, society doesn’t seem to offer up a fraction of that kind of support.
The doctor told us that about 33 percent of pregnancies end with miscarriages. I was baffled. How could this be so common, but it didn’t even cross my mind that this would happen to my sister?
In fact, my only experiences with miscarriages were hideous rumors about girls in high school and plot points in TV shows.
I realized, miscarriages make people uncomfortable. The subject is a giant gray area of an unexplored Age of Empires map.
Some people feel like it shouldn’t be “that big of a deal” because the baby wasn’t actually born yet. A good chunk of the population would prefer that mothers who miscarry quietly keep it to themselves and speak up again when they carry the baby to term.
I hated that my sister and brother-in-law’s joy was taken away and their pain was confined to their three-bedroom house that felt even emptier knowing that there was no more baby.
Luckily, that’s not where the story ended.
Rainbow Baby: A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.
Riley Harper Dice was born on Jan. 1, 2017. She somehow always smells like honey and has a Linda Blair-like-ability to contort her neck in inhuman ways.
I know we’re the lucky ones. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m aware that there are plenty of men and women who physically cannot have children. It’s not uncommon for women to have upwards of 13 miscarriages in their lifetime — another fact that shook me to the core.
But if we don’t talk about the pain, then we can’t truly appreciate the gifts in life. These things happen and they’re excruciating, but on the other side of this is hope, love and the voodoo magic that goes into a sperm finding an egg, which turns out to be a really cute kid.
Shout out to my sister for letting me tell my side of her story. Love you, Chewbecca.