Ghostly Grief: On Miscarriage and Loss

I've written briefly here about my experience with my miscarriage this past summer, but I haven't yet shared the story. Today I'm over at sharing (pretty vulnerably) about my experience that week and about the complications of grieving a relationship you never really had.

I lie back against the paper-coated examination table, alone at my first appointment, eight weeks pregnant. I’m thankful that I’m not violently ill like in my last two pregnancies. I look up at the ultrasound screen with an unhindered joy — soon, I will berate myself for it. You should have known better than to be happy.

Instead of finding a peanut-sized body on the screen, I see nothing. Emptiness. I watch reality flick across my doctor’s face. She gathers herself to say the words I know are coming.

“I’m sorry. I can’t find a baby here. It looks like the embryo just never developed.”

The day is lonely. I call a friend to pick my oldest son up from camp. I barely breathe the words to her: No baby. More tests. My husband, Chris, is working from home, watching my other son, who’s sick. I drive from the doctor’s office to the hospital. Another ultrasound. More emptiness. Another blood test. More bad results.

What do you really lose when you lose a pregnancy? Did I lose a child? Can you lose a child that never really existed? A child that never developed?

*  *  *

A friend recently sent me a note after hearing about my loss: “Miscarriage is the strangest grief, ghostly but intensely embodied.” That word, ghostly, has stayed with me. What is it to lose a child who never became? What is it to host death in your own living body? In the womb that always before gave life? Ghostly grief. Ghostly sorrow.

 

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