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Grieving a Miscarriage

Jul 23 2010
An excerpt from Shauna Niequist's new book, 'Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way'.

Today all I can think about is what might have been. It's a Saturday, bitter cold and bright, harsh, splintering. We're doing normal Saturday things, and since we recently moved into our new house, "normal" includes unpacking the remaining boxes, assembling furniture, making endless Target and Ikea lists.

Today is the day that would have been my due date, had my pregnancy been a healthy one. Nine months ago, the world was so different. I was so different. The concept of pregnancy was so different to me, so innocent. Of course I knew women who had miscarried: my mother, my cousin, my friends. But like anything, when it happens to you it's like waking up to a conversation you've heard before and only now grasp, and you realize entirely anew what they were talking about, what they were trying to find the words to describe.

So that's today, the day of what might have been. Someday we might have another child. But we'll never have a child born on January 31, 2009. The baby I found out about on Memorial Day weekend, the happy secret I shared with Aaron on the phone, standing outside the Phoenix Street Caff amp;copy; , the baby I carried inside me to Fiji to visit Todd and Joe on the boat—that baby will never be. And it seems worth stopping for today, just for a moment.

For me, as well, the specifics of the miscarriage changed me from one kind of mother to another. It's a broad sisterhood of women who don't have easy conceptions and pregnancies, but to be honest, I liked being in the other group. It was so deeply moving to me that my body nurtured and nourished Henry, delivering him safely into the world, whole and healthy, and this miscarriage and its aftermath have forced me to ask some questions: Did my body fail me? Did I somehow fail it? We've had such a tenuous relationship in the past, my body and I; was this a breach of trust?

I went to a wedding six months after the miscarriage. The wedding was absolutely perfect, the first of my ten small group girls to get married, a sweet celebration on a hot Austin night. Christel was gorgeous, all eyelashes and happy tears, and we all danced together and took pictures and laughed. And then for a little while, Kristin, another one of the girls from my small group, left, walked to the front of the old house alone, stood on the sidewalk, listening to the music in the distance, heart heavy with what might have been.

Kristin does this at every wedding. She dances and laughs and hugs and smiles for pictures, and then, at one point or another, she slips away and lets a few tears fall for the maid of honor who will never stand at her own wedding someday. Kristin's sister Laurie ended her own life four years ago. They were stepsisters and best friends. And then when they were both twenty, Laurie chose to end her life in a heartbreaking, confusing tangle of hurt and accusation and broken friendships. I remember the first everything—the one-month mark, the first birthday after she was gone, the one-year mark.

Related Topics:Death; Mourning; Pregnancy
From: July 2010

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