As birth workers, we are no exception to the number of women that experience early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or infant loss (1 in 4). Even so, I have never had anyone ever mention it to me; how it would feel, the swirl of emotions I would experience. So, here I am to break that silence. In the three years I have been actively attending births, I have yet to experience this intimate form of loss, but that is where I found myself; losing my sweet little love quietly and gracefully at 5 weeks gestation in the environment I adore so much. As I walked with a mama into her next stage in motherhood, I temporarily said goodbye to a hoped-for next stage of mine.
It is such an odd little sadness we carry with us when we have an early pregnancy loss. How can we mourn a person we do not know? A person so small, whose heart is not even beating yet, but whose spinal cord nerves are beginning to form and whose cells are full of life…. The size of a red lentil. So early in pregnancy that most women do not even know, but I knew. She lived, if only for a short little patch of time and she will return, but the lingering question remains… when?
Those of us so in-sync and in-tune with our bodies sometimes regret being so. I know when I ovulate, I know when I conceive, I know exactly what day my period is due, I know the pain in my breasts and bloating in my belly was not a coincidence, and then… they faded away and so did the second line on my pregnancy test.. and my basal body temperature dropped down… and I bled. Some women never know that they even have a loss this early. When they do know, the doctors call it chemical, not a real pregnancy, but I beg to differ.
Nonetheless, I held that mama with no hindrance in my professionalism, nor lack of love and care for her. How could I justify giving her less during this amazing time for her? She deserved every ounce of me, still.
Through her animalistic yet powerful moans and groans, my body pained, my back hurt, I shook and felt a little weak from blood loss (damn anemia). I cramped yet remained silent other than quiet whispers of affirmations… As I pressed into her lower spine and squeezed her hips with counter pressure, I gushed. Like a period, but the pains are not only in the uterus this time, but in my heart. The blood is thicker, my lining was thicker than my regular menstruation. It was to be expected, but every gush felt like a little stab in my heart, a reminder that I was no longer pregnant… and still, I serve.
Her power gave me strength to hold back tears that I had been shedding before I arrived, her energy flooded my blood with rejoice, hope, liveliness. It was an ironic spiritual conjoined-ness of life and death, and I cannot help but wonder if my little one’s soul needed to go help her little one come Earthside, a servant, lover and leader herself, giving up her physical presence with me to encourage a baby further along than she, to come and be healthy, and beautiful and alive. The thought is comforting.
I smelled of clary sage, rose geranium, cedar wood, myrrh, frankincense and castor oil, but that is nothing new. It was new to have it applied to my belly to aide my aching uterus through a loss. It was warming and comforting to the mama, and for the first time, in a new way, it was warming and comforting to me, too.
When my little rainbow comes through to me and chooses to stay next time, I will re-channel that strength that the mama did not even realize she was helping me gain, the power she was giving me to work through the pain, and I will embrace the storm that it took me through, to be in that moment and live it with love and gratitude.
Have you ever served, in any way, through a miscarriage? How did it change you?