The beginning of June means a lot of things to a lot of people. School is out for summer, camp begins, pools open, and summer is upon us. It is all of those things for me, too, except when I allow myself a fleeting moment to think about a particular June when I miscarried our second pregnancy.
I have since had two healthy babies. I should be grateful. I am grateful. But gratefulness and good fortune do not minimize loss. And loss crept up on me this week as I stood in the kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich for my 2-year-old. And that loss felt enormous.
My husband and I talk about the baby we lost in a bittersweet way when we revel in the joy that is our second born son. How he was exactly what our family needed. How we do believe the plan was for him to be ours, in God’s time.
And the most recent birth of my daughter brought me back around to loss every six hours when my postpartum nurses conducted their “patient-centered” bedside sign out. Two women would walk in, one familiar, one not. Introductions were made to me, and then they’d converse audibly for a few minutes amongst themselves about vitals and meds. I think the point was to provide transparent care and that I could speak up for additions or inaccuracies, but each of these conversations, as I held my freshly born daughter, started like this:
“Tamara Reese, G4:P3, vaginal delivery, no known allergies….”
Maybe most women ignore it? Medical jargon really, gravity and parity. Pregnancies and viable births. Numbers and letters that are seemingly inconsequential to rattle off in front of a hormonal, vulnerable patient a few times a day. But it was not lost on me that these numbers and letters define who I am as a mother. Who I was—and was not—a mother to at that moment. And in my post-partum reign of joy and elation, grief crept in.
Six hours later. G4:P3.
In another translation they could have walked into the room and begun with, “Tamara Reese has been pregnant four times but only held three of them in her arms.”
Another six hours pass. G4:P3.
And this time I think about women whose numbers are different from mine and how hearing this must feel for them.
Because I guarantee you those women remember their numbers, too.
When I shared about my miscarriage shortly after it happened, I wrote about heartache and hope. Hope was all I could hold onto at the time. And hope has since bestowed upon me beautiful blessings. But now, exactly four years later, when I think about my loss I think about the loneliness.
When I found out my pregnancy was no longer viable, I was given the option to miscarry on my own or to have a D&C. With lingering pregnancy symptoms at 10 weeks, I loaded my toddler in the car and went to the doctor to discuss termination options. My husband is a resident on a busy surgical service. He was able to join me for my appointment but only for an hour in between his cases—not ideal but something we were accustomed to.
It was decided that I would have the procedure done in the office that afternoon without sedation so that I could drive my toddler back home with me. We don’t live near family and hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy. I stay at home so there wasn’t an available caretaker for my son. So my husband took his hand and walked him up and down the halls of the clinic while I had the procedure done. I drove myself home afterwards with my toddler asleep in his car seat.
When I think about my miscarriage I think about going into that small sterile room pregnant, albeit not viable, but still pregnant. I think about the sounds of the machine and the doctor’s reassurance that it was almost over—the procedure but also my pregnancy. Most of all I think about how lonely I was there in that room. Quite possibly the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Perhaps I’m mistaking fear and grief for loneliness, but I remember wishing someone was holding my hand. Not talking. Not making anything better or different. Just holding my hand.
And then there was that lonely moment when I was told I could have as much time as I needed before dressing. The door closed, and I was alone. Just me, G2:P1.
Motherhood is stitched into our very soul and woven throughout that intricate masterpiece are moments of joy and weakness. Hope, grief and loneliness. These children, earthly or not, are forever our story.
June brings the first glimpses of summer and that very lonely memory that I keep alive inside of me because letting myself feel it is my way of being a mother to that tiny part of my story.