When I was four, we went on a family trip to a hot spring. Upon our return, my Mom unpacked our bags and realized that she had accidentally left my beloved red dress on the hook at the hot spring.
She didn’t want to upset me, so off she went to the store and bought one as similar to the original dress as she could find. She must have been a more soft-hearted mother than I am, or perhaps I wasn’t as easy going a child as my daughter is, for I don’t see myself going through that sort of trouble to cover up an honest mistake.
Anyway, she was convinced that I wouldn’t know the difference. But I did, right away. The more she tried to get me to focus on the new dress and how it was almost identical, the more I wanted the old one.
29 years later, when I lost my baby for the first time, I experienced the same thing. My loved ones attempted to distract me, but I needed time to mourn.
The things we hear when we miscarry are hurtful, ignorant, and lack tact in an unfashionable way. From “Be thankful you never met your baby” to “It’s a blessing in disguise.” From “What’s there to be sad about? It’s not like you actually had the baby” to “You and your husband weren’t sure for months if you wanted another child, now look, the child has rejected you. Let this be a lesson.” Ouch!
Thankfully, such extreme comments were rare. The more common, well-intended ones were “Be thankful you are young. You can try again” or “You’ll have another one and you’ll forget all about this one”. But much like my lost red dress, I didn’t want another baby… I wanted THIS one. With the dreams and hopes that were attached to it. And the ability to feel excited about a pregnancy without fear and doubt polluting the experience.
I had lost much more than a baby but no one understood that. Consequently, I found myself resisting social gatherings and phone calls. I preferred to be alone than to subject myself to such remarks.
Soon comments turned into questions – whether we were trying again, why was I not pregnant already, why did we not get back to trying right after and how we had lost the most fertile window. People obnoxiously stared at my belly, deciphering whether or not I was pregnant again.
When months went by and we hadn’t conceived, I heard things like “Some people are meant to only have one child” or “Don’t you have a daughter already? Why can’t you be happy with what you have?” Did anyone really think these words were comforting? People got me, got me questioning “where is the love?” These famous lyrics from The Black Eyed Peas were befitting.
As I gradually rose from the pain, I got better at handling comments, questions and stares. It took time and deliberate effort. I kept reminding myself that such hurtful gestures stemmed from ignorance and lack of awareness.
Each time I paused and asked myself “Am I willing to give this person that much power? Do their words truly deserve my time, attention, and energy?” The answer was always a big, fat NO.
They had no personal experience with such a loss, had no idea what my priorities, dreams, and desires were, and most of them didn’t know me at a core level. Bit by bit, I was able to let tactless remarks roll off of me. And I know you can do the same.
You wouldn’t ask your single friend for relationship advice. Neither would you take your broke friend’s thoughts on investments seriously. Similarly, don’t allocate your precious time and energy to words from those that barely understand you, your pain, and your aspirations.
And don’t get upset with yourself when you let others get to you even when you know you shouldn’t. It’s okay. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. Find a tribe that you can call your own and lean on them when you need a “pick me up”. A place where you can be yourself, allow yourself to feel and express your raw and real emotions, and not feel judged or rushed. A community that reminds you that it’s okay to feel how you feel and that you should allow all your emotions their rightful space.
Before you know it, you will be celebrating small wins with the same tribe – maybe you quieted your mind for 30 seconds during 15 minutes of meditation or spared 10 minutes for yourself and stepped out in nature to just breathe. These are wins that you must acknowledge.
Be kind to yourself. Appreciate how you are putting yourself back together, piece by piece. Try to be mindful of thoughts and words from others that you are letting into your world, and let the path to rediscovery unfold naturally. One minute, one hour, one day at a time.