One month ago, I was two months pregnant with my second child. Despite being constantly nauseous, I was overjoyed with all the possibilities of bringing another life into this world. I imagined sharing this news with our family and friends at the end of Hanukkah when I would be completing my first trimester. My world felt full of potential.
Three weeks ago, at our first appointment with the doctor, we received the crushing news that there was no heartbeat. Although my body was working on overdrive to produce pregnancy hormones, the baby was not viable. A couple of days later, I decided to induce a miscarriage, commonly known as a D&C. I wasn’t prepared to wait around for the eventual outcome, alone in my apartment. I wanted to move on and chose the assistance of my tremendously talented OBGYN team.
The last couple weeks have been challenging on many levels. Obviously the physical recovery from a miscarriage isn’t easy, and unlike contractions from a healthy birth, each pang and visit to the bathroom is a visceral reminder of the loss. But the emotional challenges have surprised me as well.
In my work as a community builder, I am constantly surrounded by people — people that I mentor, teach, and learn with. People share their professional dreams, existential angst, and spiritual struggles with me. This is a gift, as I am always in conversation about diverse human experiences — and it is also a mirror, to look at myself and reflect on my own internal state: Where am I and how am I?
These weeks, these questions have obviously been difficult to articulate and I have been at a loss for words. As an experiential educator who deeply values authenticity and vulnerability as an educational tool, my inability to vocalize what I was actually experiencing has been suffocating.
So this week, as we have been lighting the menorah each night, I have been asking myself one question: How can I use this experience to connect to others, instead of feeling separate from others? How can I elevate my own loss in the hopes that it might bring someone else a little light? How can I heed the call of the miracle of Hanukkah, to truly transform darkness into light?
Two nights ago, as we lit the sixth candle, my husband and I reflected that if seven represents wholeness in Judaism (the cycle of creation) and eight infinity (the famous symbol of eternity), then six is the last number (on the menorah at least) of our fractured, broken existence. We each have broken pieces, dark pieces, that are easier and sometimes more comfortable to hide — losses, failures, mistakes.
But we each also have the potential to feel whole, despite these broken parts. So how do we get there? I believe it is by sharing our brokenness, not by hiding it. The only way I can find meaning from my painful experience of miscarriage is to share it. To hold it up as a sign — a sign of my own resilience to show others that they are not alone in their struggles.
Roughly 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and still, somehow, many of us feel alone when it happens. In many ways, this is the power of the entire #metoo campaign, reminding everyone that sharing openly about our experiences is both healing to ourselves and ultimately, to our communities.
So tonight, I am not sharing the news I had hoped to, but I am sharing my story. And tonight, as you light your menorah for the last time this year, I ask you to consider the following question: What “darkness” are you holding, experiencing, or struggling with? How can you share it openly? We need to create opportunities for others to name their experiences — and see them not as isolating, private events, but as human connection points, giving us a little more hope and light in these dark days.