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The Hardest Steps I Have Ever Taken
Content Warning: Miscarriage
The hardest steps I have ever taken were from the scanning room, down a flight of stairs, and into another waiting room.
“I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
The walk through the waiting room, tears streaking down an immovable face, avoiding eye contact with happy couples and mothers with rounded bellies in the waiting room, floating and drowning. The agonizing steps through the exit to the car. The parking garage, so quiet. Everything, so quiet. How is this happening. Who do I tell. What do I do. I can’t breathe.
The stumbling, hopeless steps through the front door. Just a couple of hours ago I was sitting in what was supposed to be the nursery, making a list of books to read to a baby I’d never get to meet, dreaming of hearing a heartbeat I’d never get to hear. Now I have to choose how to have their body removed from mine. With six words, a life and a future erased. “I’m sorry, there is not heartbeat.”
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
A hand still settling on my stomach before remembering they are gone.
This weekend was supposed to be my baby’s due date. I would give anything to be meeting them. It’s confusing. I could scream. Many days it doesn’t feel like it was ever real. For three months, I thought about them constantly, talked to them constantly. And then they were gone. And it was quiet; the air impossible to breathe, the anticipation and plans gone in an instant. I think that may be the loneliest feeling in the world.
It’s a terrible thing to miss someone you never even had a chance to meet.
In those early months, I was told countless times how strong I was. But I never felt strong. I felt shattered, a stranger to myself, and so tired.
So many months later, I’m still surprised by the sharp pain, the tightness of my chest, and the tears that catch me off guard. I wish I got to hold them, meet them, know them. I wish I never had to take those steps.
This weekend has been looming over me for months. As it has inched closer, I’ve felt increasingly unsettled. I’m staring at my life as it is right now - one I actually quite like, and I’m face to face with what could have (and should have) been - a life where I might be holding an infant right now. A life where we would be a family of three. A life where I would have a nursery and not a guest room.
It’s confusing because I am ok. I’m sad and this weekend is not going to be an easy one. And yet it is hard to picture a newborn in my life right now.
My thoughts and processing don’t feel tidy. I feel pressure to have arrived somewhere with all of this, and I haven’t. It happened. It was terrible. Grief is terrible.
It comes in waves. And the waves are fewer now than they once were. I haven’t screamed in my car since November - progress.
I see evidence of a softer me, walls torn down by the need to survive. But I still get overwhelmed and overstimulated more quickly than I once did. My window of tolerance is somewhere in between a porthole and a medieval archer’s window.
But no one ever said grief was tidy.
I’m the only one who pushes it to be that for me.
And so, as I stand face to face with a due date that is now just another Sunday, I breathe deeply, I don’t hide the tears, and I don’t change the narrative to make it neat for other people. I hurt. And I continue along in my very non-linear sort of way, the way grief taught me to be.
P.S. I’ll be back in your inbox with links and the best finds of the week tomorrow. It felt off to share them alongside these thoughts. And I can feel a vulnerability hangover setting in so I’m off to take a walk and read for a bit. Hugs, A.B.