things about marriage · things about motherhood · things i think

How to Talk about a Secret

There’s something I haven’t talked about in this space, or even with all my close friends, yet. At the end of last year, I was pregnant, and then had a miscarriage. I am a mom.

I knew about my pregnancy for two weeks, which 100% overlapped our travels over Christmas break this past year. On January 1 I started to have a miscarriage.

When I knew I was miscarrying, one of my first thoughts was, “I don’t want to hide this. I don’t want to be one more person who treats miscarriage silently. I want to bring the conversation out in the open, because it’s something that happens to people, even though people don’t talk about it.”

When we first found out we were pregnant, Whit and I didn’t want to intentionally hide our pregnancy from people. We didn’t want to share it with the world, but our close friends and family, and even some other people could know, if the timing was right. We didn’t exactly seek out people to share our news with, but fortunately some of our close friends were around (as it was the case that we were in our hometown for the holidays), and we happily discussed it with them.

One reason it was good to talk about it with people was because we weren’t planning the pregnancy. We weren’t “not planning” it either, as you know that is a likely option. No, we were aiming to prevent pregnancy. It was somewhat of a miracle that it happened, actually. Not to go into too many details here (not that I’m unwilling to share, but not the purpose of this particular post), but it really shouldn’t have happened… it was on the very verge of the possible pregnancy window.

I was super glad it happened that way. I immediately knew that God did it. It wasn’t a mistake on our part, it wasn’t something that we tried hard for and got; it was clearly something that God wanted. So, even though we were planning to not get pregnant, seeing as how I’m in grad school now and we are in a fairly transitional stage of life, we came to trust that it was God’s best timing for us.

I could see how it would work out, and I was really excited. Not 100% of the time – most of the time I didn’t remember that I was pregnant, and sometimes I was just in shock, disbelief. A lot of the time I felt exhausted, insomnia, discomfort, and irritable. But a lot of the time I was excited. I actually couldn’t help myself but research ALL THE BABY THINGS, trying to plan the most perfect “stuff” and “not having stuff” for our child.

Between the two of us, we didn’t talk about it much. I would say, “Well I guess we’ll need to do so and so when we have the baby.” Or “If we have a baby, xxx.” We weren’t 100% counting on having a baby, because we aren’t ignorant and know that a lot of things can happen between the time you find out you are “expecting” and when the expected baby arrives. But we also knew that miscarriage was only a small risk compared to the likelihood that we would actually have the baby. Only 10-15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. So we had to start thinking about it like it was actually going to happen.

It’s not that I don’t want to open up the conversation about miscarriage… that isn’t true at all. I would love to know how to talk about it openly. But one of the things that has stopped me is I don’t know how to talk about it – from my perspective.

I know that a lot of people who have suffered from miscarriage are crushed by it. They were trying hard for a baby, really wanted one, got a glimmer of real hope, and then that hope – and that baby – died. I think a lot of the reason I don’t know how to talk about my own miscarriage is because that wasn’t exactly the scenario for us.

We were very sad that we lost a baby – OUR baby – our DNA – a little miniature me and Whit. We knew that it was a real, precious human life, and the ending of that life means that that baby will never get to really live in this world. So many possibilities, gone. I for one was growing very attached to that particular little baby who lived inside me. We had a cute nickname for her (we were 99% sure it was a girl, because of the timing of the pregnancy), and we enjoyed thinking about her.

I loved being pregnant. Plus, it was the greatest secret!! And when I told it, I suddenly became part of this new club. You know, the sacred club that everyone talks about – parenthood. I could finally join into that club and talk part in its conversations, because I had something to say. Here’s the biggest secret – I was never actually dying to be part of that club.

I always figured I would have kids, but I NEVER thought of myself as a mom, or a parent. Those words scared me, because there is so much meaning, so much emotion behind them. And I am NOT an emotional person. In fact, I like to try to flee as far as possible from my emotions. So even though I love kids, and want to have my own, I was NEVER that girl who “always wanted to be a mom.” Nope. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, an owner of 12 dogs, an explorer of the Amazon jungle, a swimmer, a beach-dweller, a surfer, a doctor, a teacher… but never a mom.

Which is completely fine. It’s fine that I never wanted to BE a mom, even though I was fairly convinced that I would be one day.

So, since Whit and I were never overly attached to the grand idea of being parents yet, we weren’t COMPLETELY devastated that we lost our baby. Of course we were very sad, and we grieved, but instead of losing all hope for a future we would finally be getting, we actually went back to our original plan, of not having a baby. It seemed, and is, okay that having a child didn’t interrupt our hectic, transitory lives this year.

So that’s why I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to appear insensitive to those who REALLY longed for and tried for and placed hope in the babies they lost.

BUT.

I did have a miscarriage. And I’m still me. My story is real, and true too. I may be different, but I know I’m not alone. There are others like me, maybe you. Who didn’t plan to have a baby, but you did. And you came to think about that baby, and mother it in your womb, and love it. And then that baby left you too soon. It didn’t work out like everyone else that you see on your newsfeeds or at the grocery store. Instead of having a big belly and a happy due date, you have nothing… not even words. Only a folded penguin onesie on your nightstand and a trashed pregnancy test. Some people know your story, but many do not.

This is hard for you because you miss that baby. No, it maybe wouldn’t have been the best thing for you to have that baby now, with how hectic your life is while you are in graduate school. In fact, it is possibly better – you have more time to work on your career, spend with your husband, become more mature, settle down in one city, enjoy free time and sleep.

But even though things are back to normal, you have a secret – you had a baby, and you liked that baby, and it made you a mom. You WERE pregnant, you felt different, you were physically changed. But you don’t want to freak people out by saying “Oh yeah when I was pregnant, I felt xxx” because it’s uncomfortable for conversation if you just throw that out there. So you stay silent, and you don’t have a chance to really grieve. Even though you went through a loss, and you are changed because of it.

So, I don’t know the answer. I don’t know how to talk about it. But I will try, when I can. I will seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, for wisdom to be sensitive to other people – people who had no idea I was pregnant, people who are currently pregnant, people who experienced a loss of their own. We’re all different, and we all have different stories. But we should be able to talk about them and process them, because they affected US, and God cares about our stories.

We should think about the experience of pregnancy, fondly, and hope for it to happen again. We should think about the miscarriage and be sad. We should look at other pregnant women and think of our own child. We should look at children and know that we ARE moms – we won’t just be a mom one day, we already are. So we don’t have to compare ourselves to other women, or strive for that thing we “don’t yet have” – because we do have it. We were, by the grace of God, given a child, even if the rest of the world doesn’t know that.

In honor of “C,” who is in the arms of Jesus, surrounded by her family members who also left us too soon. 

8 thoughts on “How to Talk about a Secret

  1. I know wholeheartedly where you are coming from and what you are saying. Not sure if you knew but I had a miscarriage at about 8 weeks along prior to having Dale. We also were not trying and up to that point, were pretty sure we weren’t going to have kids and didn’t really want them. You could ask anyone at the time and they would tell you that Mike and I loved to spoil our nieces and nephews and then send them home. But once we found out we were pregnant everything changed. We started talking about having kids and decided if we wanted kids we needed to try again right away since i was already 34. I did need a little help due to endometriosis but ten months after the miscarriage, I was finally pregnant again. Today, i can’t imagine our life without kids.

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  2. Sydni – after reading this my heart goes out to you and Whit – I never have experienced that but know people that have. I will pray God’s will for your life about having children. I always wanted to get married and have children – that was my goal in life – of course, I’m 72 and that was in the 60’s.
    Love and hugs to both of you — thank you for sharing your loss of baby “C” with me. Aunt Mimi

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