I was so excited. My husband was downstairs occupying our almost 3-year-old daughter after dinner while I was getting ready to go to the gym. Finally feeling better after my morning sickness had subsided, I was jazzed to go to one of my favorite fitness classes.
I never made it, getting stalled by blood on my underwear in our bathroom. Panicked, I called my provider. Fast forward a day and half later, I’m welcoming Shabbat in a labor and delivery room as an add-on for my D&C. Ready to go, the nurse comes in and says I’m bumped from the OR (yet again) by an emergent C-section. Having had my daughter naturally and without drugs, an emergent C-section all of a sudden sounded appealing in contrast to my circumstance: a miscarriage just shy of 13 weeks, after we had seen a heartbeat on an ultrasound and begun telling family and friends I was pregnant.
Too exhausted, sad, and drugged to go anywhere the next morning, we went to morning minyan on Sunday and wore our sadness and grief in the presence of our community. The rabbi already knew, along with a few select people, in part because good friends had watched and taken our daughter to synagogue on Shabbat while I recovered. What was most stabilizing was a crowd of people being normal Jews engaged in ritual. Ritual has that power and people did not pry, which I appreciated.
The rabbi followed up with us a week or so later with suggestions to ritually mark the loss. He suggested casting away flower seeds into a waterway at a park since then they would never sprout. The thought was this ritual would parallel our own lost pregnancy, the fetus no longer growing. This did not feel right for me. As a rabbi myself, I searched Jewish feminist books on my shelf and scrolled through. Nothing stood out that made sense to me. It was the dead of winter and something potential and hopeful had died within me. The next handful of months felt very dark.
I wanted to mourn. There was no such prayer. My husband and I only had silence. I found my spring was filled with sadness and stress every time I got my period. My husband seemed to be coping, or at least outwardly. The only time I saw how deep his pain went was when he uncharacteristically shouted at our daughter when she refused to get in her car seat shortly after our time in the hospital. He agreed with me that his shouting was disproportionate to the situation and in fact not about our daughter at all.
And then in June, I conceived again. As my due date from my lost pregnancy approached, I felt the need to release it into the universe, perhaps to make space for this new pregnancy that did not yet feel real.
On August 1, 2015, after our daughter went to bed, my husband and I lit a yahrzeit candle in our kitchen, marking my due date that wasn’t. We held each other in silence, watching the flame flicker. That little light burned for a day, and then it was gone.
I do not plan on recognizing that date with a yahrzeit candle this year. That sadness and loss, which contributed to great anxiety in the early months of my subsequent pregnancy, manifested into a living, breathing, little girl. I marked my grief with light, and now I have a new one for which I am eternally grateful.