Content Warning: pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, messy words about it, sadness.
Today I had a miscarriage.
I’ve never had one before so I wasn’t quite sure what was happening.
At 6am I went for a run with Big Daughter. Then I drove Bella to school. On the way there I started cramping. At first it was regular annoying period pain cramps. But then it got to be so much more. I got home, popped ibuprofen and lay down, hoping it would go away. It didn’t. The cramping intensified so that it was gut-wrenching spasms. Like somebody was kicking me in the lower back. With steel capped work-boots. I couldn’t stand up straight. Walking hurt. I thought I was having the worse menstrual period pain in the history of womankind.
I cried. A lot. I screamed into my pillow. Real loud. My daughters were scared for me. They brought me an ice pack. Then they Googled psycho period pain and what to do about it – and brought me a hot pack instead. Nothing helped. I was scared.
I’m going to die. I need to go to the hospital. But how am I going to get there? It hurts so bad.
Then I remembered I was in Samoa and I was twice as scared. Because even though the hospital has been upgraded and there’s lots of great people working there, I’ve never actually had any medical procedures done on me in Samoa and the terrified
dying fia-palagi woman inside me REALLY wanted to be in New Zealand at that moment.
About an hour into it, I realized it wasn’t just a period from hell. There was something else going on. Because then I wanted to ‘push’. I haven’t experienced childlabor for seventeen years but today, it hit me with a vengeance. Reminding me why having a baby is a horribly bad idea - that usually is extra horribly bad right when you’re actually trying to ‘have’ that baby. I pushed and something came out. Immediately, the pain stopped. Then I threw up. A lot. And passed out on the bathroom floor in a pool of throw-up and blood.
The daughters called their Dad to come home right away. He came. He lifted me up. He helped me go shower. He got plastic gloves and fished out the little messy something, put it in a plastic container so I could take it to the doctor. I didn’t want to look at it but I also didn’t want to flush it away. He cleaned up the mess and disinfected the bathroom. He hugged me. He was the calm, steadying strength I needed. In that moment as he capably waded through blood, vomit and tears, he was the most beautiful and beloved man I have ever seen.
I still wasn’t sure what had happened to me. Even then. Because a miscarriage should have been an impossible thing, because as far as I knew, I was not pregnant. And I was not pregnant, because:
A. After Baby #5, I had a tubal ligation where a surgeon didn’t just clip and tie my tubes, she cut and cauterized them. Not only that, I was not pregnant because
B. I’m also on the contraceptive pill. For health reasons and not contraceptive ones, because see reason A, I cant get pregnant because I’ve had a tubal ligation.
The doctor reminded me that there’s a 1% chance you can still get pregnant after a T.L. That it works for 99 women out of 100. So it was indeed possible that my messy something was a miscarriage because I could be that one woman out of a hundred. And after looking at the contents of the plastic container, she was pretty sure I’d had a miscarriage. But she said, its also possible that my messy something wasn’t a future baby, but it could have been other things like corpus luteum cyst’y things or some other technical words I cant remember.
I drove home from the doctor and I was many things.
I was relieved. So very relieved.
I was grateful for Darren and my daughters helping me through.
But most of all, I was sad.
I’m forty-two. I have five fabulous children who bring me great joy. Because carrying them and giving birth to them almost killed me (and them) four times over, I was happy to take the doctors recommendations and have a T.L. I’ve known for seven years that I would never have any more children and I was fine with it. I looked at other parents chasing after toddlers in grocery stores and at tired mothers trying to feed their wailing babies – and I was grateful that my wailing baby days were over. I went to the movies with my Big children, talked books with them, chatted feminism and religion with them – and I was grateful to be the mother of nearly-grownups who I could be friends with. I hugged Bella, laughed at her wacky jokes, admired her fierce spirit and bold Bella’ness – and I rejoiced in every minute because she’s my last ever baby and everything she does and says is extra special and amazing. Not once have I wistfully wished I could still grow a baby. Instead, every day, I give thanks for the sacred blessing of being a mum to five rather fabulous people and I’m happy there aren’t going to be any more.
And yet, today I had a (probable) miscarriage, and I am sad. I’m not sure why.
I’m sad that there was a tiny hope of a baby and now there isn’t. Maybe even sadder because I didn’t even know there was a flicker of hope, so how can you properly mourn and miss something you didn’t even know was there?
I’m sad that me and Darren will never have that shared-new-parentness again – that indefinable, tangled link where he holds my hand as I long to die because it’s been twenty hours of pushing and hurting and puking and the baby’s stuck and labor has stalled and they finally decide to do a C-section because I’m a loser wimp and I can’t push anymore and he sings to me while they cut me up in a theatre crowded with strangers and I’m in shock and shaking with terror and with cold and I focus on his voice and he guides me to a place of peace. Where we pray for a newborn in an incubator to please make it. Where we tag team through late nights of baby feeding and diaper changing and talk in hushed tones about what kind of personality will this child have?
I’m sad that my body couldn’t hold on, couldn’t nurture, couldn’t endure. Is it guilt? Or more the reminder that this body that once worked so hard to create life and then grow it and birth it – is getting old, malfunctioning, shutting down and packing it in? From the first baby to the fifth, I’ve always known that in spite of my abundant child-birthing hips – I am not ‘made’ for motherhood. From hyperemesis to prenatal depression to pre-eclampsia and emergency premature C-section deliveries, every baby was a reminder that I shouldn’t be pregnant and of how weak I am. Especially when well-meaning relatives compared me to other “strong Samoan women” who worked every day of their pregnancies, pushed a squalling ten pound baby out in two determined huffs, and then went back to Superwoman duties the next day. So yeah, I was always the ma’i one, the somewhat broken one. But still, I was valiant and I persevered and I held on and I did it, dammit. I made babies and kept them alive and they’re perfect, even though they had a shitty start. But today? I couldn’t keep a baby alive. Or even a hopeful messy something alive.
Even if it wasn’t ever going to be a baby, today was a jarring reminder that my birth-mother potential is gone. That there’s something broken in that mysterious place inside me where life-creating and baby-growing happens.
Even though I didn’t want to have any more children and I took decisive steps to make sure that I wouldn’t – I still got pregnant. But I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, or healthy enough to stay pregnant.
And while I’m relieved, I’m still sad about that.