Three weeks ago, I woke up in the recovery room of a local hospital. My sight was blurry, and I struggled for the first few moments to understand where I was. I started to hear voices-nurses talking about coronavirus and how the hospital was going to handle the inevitable surge.
Do I have coronavirus?
Why am I here?
As I slowly came to, I remembered that I was in the recovery room after a D&C for my latest miscarriage, our second loss since November. I winced, and actually had a fleeting and regrettable moment of relief.
The days that followed were dark. When you lose a life that was once growing inside you, it feels as though the world has ended. It is a lonely, desperate, isolating, and at times, insurmountable grief. These days, when I turn on the TV it seems as though the world really is ending. Rising death rates, cities in lock down, stocks crashing, businesses closing, confirmed cases coming closer and closer to home. The news is enough to put anyone into a downward spiral of anxiety, let alone someone trying to navigate the monumental loss and inevitable hormonal crash that follow a miscarriage.
Soon, my office closed, and the refuge of a daily schedule was gone. Welcome distractions like drinks with friends and dinners with families, yoga class and other public activities were gone. The silence and stillness caught up with me and one morning last week as I was getting dressed, I felt the entirety of it all swell, and I completely lost my composure.
My baby is dead, I kept telling myself.
My babies are dead.
Business are closing.
My friends are losing their jobs.
People are dying.
I can’t leave my house.
My mom will die if she gets this.
My babies are dead.
I cried and laid in the fetal position on my bedroom floor until it passed.
And then I felt guilty.
I questioned my right to feel the grief and despair I was experiencing because when it comes to the coronavirus, there are so many communities who are vulnerable and suffering in one way or another. So many of us endure this pain silently because pregnancy loss is still an uncomfortable subject when things are “normal.” How can we possibly talk about it now when so many are sick any dying?
As I scroll through my newsfeeds, I see countless posts (understandably) encouraging us to “check in with our pregnant friends” because “the weight of what they are carrying is more than we know.” I can’t imagine how scary that must be. But what about me? My womb and my heart are empty, but the weight of what I’m carrying seems impossible to bare.
But I feel like can’t say that, I can’t think it because it feels unimportant. I feel unimportant. I feel like my loss…my losses…are suddenly unimportant to the world. I feel lost, irrelevant, and terribly isolated in my pain, with literally no escape given the recent shutdowns.
A recent study indicates that after a miscarriage, 29% of women experienced PTSD, and I believe that I am one of them. My recent losses, coupled with the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic that has completely altered life as we know it, is crippling.
Last week, I was manic. My mother is over 60 and suffers from advanced lung disease and I drove her absolutely crazy with constant FaceTime calls and check-ins. I laid awake each night thinking about every possible way she could become sick and how we were going to handle it. I $700 spent on groceries and supplies and gift certificates to small businesses. I watched the news 24/7 and scrolled social media non-stop. My boyfriend compared me to the “crazies” out there hoarding toilet paper, but this was more than that.
I have an insatiable need to prevent another loss and to control the factors that can be controlled. Last night, I was up until 3AM having a conversation with myself about the pros and cons of trying for another baby amid a global pandemic. It is responsible? Are we ready? Should we wait until this ends? Will this end? (The jury is still out.)
These are terrifying times for everyone, but for those of us with broken hearts and empty arms with no place to put all the love we’ve been saving for a life that will never arrive, the days are especially dark.
Check in on your friends who have just had a miscarriage. Their loss matters. Their pain is real. Their grief is valid. I’m not okay, but I will be.