I left the hospital on February 2nd with a packet of information: a folder of photocopies of photocopies, a form letter that was actually missing a signature, printouts of all that was done to me, a carbon copy of our authorization to cremate Laurence & Flannery, and some pamphlets about depression and support groups. Several nurses hugged me. And then Dave and I went home to tell a 6-year-old that his baby was dead. And that there were actually two babies.
In one moment, Graham had to handle what I had taken 24 hours to process. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hold that angry son of mine. In the past 4 months, he’s accused me less and less for what happened. He occasionally brings up that he thinks I could’ve stopped it. His little heart knows that a Mommy’s job is to keep the baby safe from harm. But my body couldn’t save our twins.
I don’t blame myself. We don’t even know what happened. One plausible theory is that one child died, my body tried to deliver it, but accidentally delivered both. But there are a dozen things that could’ve gone wrong. We just don’t know.
Back in February, I was taking medication and recovering from the emergency surgery. One that is commonplace, but it was my first time even going under anesthesia. All my c-sections were spinals, so I was still awake. Not the case with my D & C. I was out. And I experienced a lot of pain afterward. I thought I was experiencing the worst.
But nothing rivaled the emotions I faced every minute I was awake. And in the few seconds I wasn’t thinking about my shrinking belly or my return to a normal appetite, my kindergartner was reminding me of our loss. His loss. Those were his babies, too.
He would tell complete strangers that our twin babies died. “And when mom was at da hospital wif Laurence and Flandery dying, Mema had to bleach our whole baffroom! Did you know dere’s lots of blood when babies die?” I felt sorry for those poor people. Just buying coffee or picking up a bag of apples. But I also vowed not to interfere with Graham’s grief, unless he started harming himself or others.
All these months later, he still talks about it every other day. He processes by asking questions, keeping them alive in his memory, and educating the unexpected passerby about biology.
And I wish someone would’ve educated me more on that topic. I don’t recall any nurse or handout or blogpost telling me about periods after miscarriage. And how horribly painful and frequent they are. So I’m going to write this here, so I can never be accused of not educating my fellow woman. They are ghastly. And I had cycles every 7-14 days for 4 months. Which means I relived that gruesome February 1st over and over again.
Because I never forgot that I had been pregnant. I never forgot that I was supposed to be pregnant. But I often forgot that I wasn’t pregnant. And then I would go to the bathroom and the blood would remind me that two of my kids were dead.
It never got easier. I would try to convince myself that I would be better in a few days when it started again, but I would find myself crying on the toilet each time. Reliving that moment when I realized there was no way to save my baby. That day when my mom had to bleach everything in sight.
A couple months ago, during my 7th cycle in 9 weeks, Graham walked in before I could flush the toilet. He started crying and screaming. “Are more of our babies dying? I didn’t know we had more babies! Are you going to da hospital again? Will we have anovver baby funeral? Why do all our babies die?” I explained that we didn’t have babies. It was something different that happens to mommies when they don’t have babies. But he was hysterical.
I remember begging God to supernaturally regulate my body. By month 4, it was getting closer to normal.
And as I get closer to the twins’ due date, the flashbacks lessen. I actually go hours without thinking about it. Until something happens to bring it all back.
I remember visiting an old house where the original wallpaper was faded from sun and grimy with grease and darkened from pipe tobacco. But there were bright rectangles on the wall. Untouched by decades of life, because they had been covered by those brass frames containing photographs from long ago. That’s life after miscarriage.
You forget that there are two realities. While you know that you should be bringing new life into the world, the world keeps reminding you that you aren’t. Through BabyCenter emails and coupons in your mailbox and a friend at the store who doesn’t read your blog or your Facebook and confusedly glances from your stomach to your cart, looking for a missing child.
Losing a child isn’t like getting a voicemail saying, “Your item won’t be shipped.” It’s full of gore and it changes you. Every period reminds you that you shouldn’t be bleeding. Your son asks when he is getting another brother who won’t die. And certain days of the week are hard: Mondays, because you lost them on a Monday; Tuesdays, because you told your son on a Tuesday; Fridays, because they were due on a Friday.
And, very soon, a Friday will approach when they were supposed to be in your arms and they won’t be. And the red folder you brought home from the hospital doesn’t tell you what you should do on that day.
But it does give you the visiting hours for the cemetery. And your kindergarten graduate has already hinted that he wants to release balloons that day and wear a cowboy hat. Because he is still hoping for another baby brother…who needs a big brother’s wisdom about cowboy hats and ‘being awesome at life.’