The Mother’s Day celebrations are over now, and it feels like the right time to finally to tell this story. I’ve already written pieces of it in my head, in texts to loved ones, and in the notes on my phone. I wasn’t sure when I’d tell it, but I was sure that I would because storytelling is my way of healing. It’s also a way I give power to my story, knowing that telling it may empower others in their own, whatever those stories are.
Even after I’d decided I would tell it, I wondered how? Would I make a video? Write a poem? Share a blog? But the thought of sitting in front of a camera made me feel sick, and I agonized too deeply over the poetry I would write. So, I decided to write a blog. This blog.
In the past, Mother’s Day hasn’t been as important to me. I always found it weird to celebrate such important women in my life once a year, especially when mothers may not be a celebrated topic for some, but it’s so important to my mom so I’ve always celebrated it with her. There was a point that I thought I might share this on Mother’s Day, but this year I needed a day to simply celebrate motherhood in its many shapes for my own healing.
And now here we are. This is my story.
TRIGGER WARNING: This story talks about loss, grief, and miscarriage and may be triggering to some readers.
This story actually begins in the Winter of 2017 when I met Josh. For so many years I’d agonized over the mother I could be but struggled to be that mother. A huge part of why I struggled so was because I didn’t believe in myself, and Josh opened my eyes to all that I had to offer. He helped heal parts of me that had existed since my childhood. I carried childhood trauma that made me question whether I would ever be able to keep my children safe. I doubted my abilities to be a better role model than some of the people around me I grew up with. He helped me see the healed parts of myself and reminded me that they were gifts that could be shared with others. He is a big reason that I began working with youth.
When I first met Josh, I told him that I would never have more children. He was okay with that. But the more my love for him and myself grew, the more I felt sure I wanted to have a family with him. I think Josh always hoped that I might change my mind but, when I did, he wasn’t ready to have a baby yet. There were many nights that longing filled my heart and I would cry for the family I wanted to have with him one day. Sunita teased us, too. She wanted a baby sister. Everything was always going to fall into place eventually.
It was in one of those tear filled nights that we decided that it was almost time to have more children. We made a plan. We were so close to buying a place to call our own and we decided to start trying when we had a place in mind. Sadly, our prospective home fell through in late March. On April 5th I found out I was pregnant. I cleaned and saved the test so that I could give it to my mom on Mother’s Day.
Josh was out of town working on a canoe in the woods, and when I couldn’t reach him right away I started to panic. I called my friend Talia in a wave of emotions: fear, excitement, uncertainty, pure joy. “This isn’t apart of the plan,” I said and she reminded me that there is no perfect plan and not to let that take away from something I’ve wanted for so long. Immediately the tears became tears of only joy. When Josh phoned me back, I could hear the joy in his voice too. We were so excited to be parents. We made a new plan and started to talk about all the baby things that expectant parents talk about. I thought about how this baby was conceived in March, the anniversary month of losing my dad, and how the due was in late November near my dad’s birthday. I felt this baby represented my connection to him in a magical way, as if he sent me an angel.
I’m always a bit of a private person at first. We told very few people. I only told my sister Geraldine, and my friends Talia and Keisha in the beginning. One morning, I called my sister Cora to share the news. She squealed in excitement and I was elated. That morning, I had back to back meetings online and had a hard time concentrating because of those magical feelings that everything was coming together the way it was meant to. After my meetings were done, I felt restless and it was a beautiful day so I asked Josh if we could go for a walk. But before we left, I went to the bathroom and there was a little bit of spotting.
I tried so hard not to panic, but I did. I wanted to go to the hospital so Josh drove us there. They wouldn’t let him come in with me because of social distancing restrictions. I spent 7 hours alone in Emergency getting tests and waiting for someone to give me answers. The last test I got was an ultrasound and I knew exactly how far along I was—7 weeks and 3 days. I knew I would be able to hear the heartbeat and as soon as I did that everything would make sense and I would feel better.
There was no heartbeat and the placenta was too small for them to accurately assess. Too small? My heart dropped into my stomach. I knew that the placenta was only the size of about 5 weeks. That didn’t make sense. I rationalized—maybe I misdated, maybe my cycle was off that month, maybe they’ve made a mistake.
The doctor sent me home with inconclusive results and told me I’d have to continue getting blood tests so they could either confirm that the pregnancy was going to continue or that I was going to have a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that feeling. I’m sure that was when my heart started breaking.
But nonetheless, I let myself hope because those moments gave me strength. My friend Keisha became my doula and helped us find a midwife the next day. I had a whole support team as we waited for the blood tests to come back. Josh and I went into the woods and said a prayer. I dipped my feet in the river as he brushed me off with cedar. We asked Creator to give us the strength to accept whatever journey lay ahead for us. We watched as the cedar bough was carried away by the river. All of this helped with what was to come next.
I had a miscarriage. It’s still so hard to say and to think about what I went through when the miscarriage did come. I bled, experienced painful cramps and had hormonal breakouts all over my face. I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror and I felt like my body betrayed me. I still do sometimes. I continued getting bloodwork done and had an ultrasound appointment too, knowing I wasn’t going to have a baby but making sure that the miscarriage was healthy. Healthy. It still doesn’t quite make sense to me. Even when the miscarriage ended, I was left with this empty feeling in my womb. It felt similar to the feeling that comes after you give birth, but with no baby to hold in your arms. The whole experience was painful and uncomfortable, but the most excruciating thing was that my body was going through all of this while I was trying to grieve. It was a reminder every day of what I lost: The dream of a new adventure with someone I love very much.
Keisha suggested that Josh and I build a nest while we went through this together. Josh built me the perfect nest with two memory foam pillows and a heat pad. Geraldine sent us food, my midwife harvested stinging nettle for us, and Josh did whatever he could. I watched all 10 seasons of Friends rarely leaving my bed. Sometimes pictures of expectant or new moms brought feelings of hope once again. Other times, I felt a pang of envy throughout me. There were moments I felt like the ancestors left me, angry that they didn’t do more to protect the life growing inside me. Other times, I felt the magic of the journey. Some people hate the words “it happened for a reason,” but those words brought comfort and acceptance. I brewed tea that helped me feel more grounded and connected to my spirit.
There were so many pieces to this journey, but one thing that stands out to me is how much I wanted my mom. I avoided her calls, texts and messages for a couple of weeks because I wasn’t ready to let go of my dream fully. I still had the pregnancy test in the bathroom cupboard. That was never the way I wanted to tell her, but when I finally did I felt supported and empowered in my journey. It gave me the strength to move forward.
Telling my mom is what gave me the strength to tell my story. I started by telling a couple of friends and one of them offered me gifts of healing that I needed. She acknowledged how hard it is and said, “the moment you see those positive lines, you start imagining the possibilities for the little life inside you.” She also shared that it was okay to imagine every what if? so that I could grieve them and then accept that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t realize how much I blamed myself until then.
I listened to a miscarriage meditation that said something along the lines of, “Your journey is your own, but know that you are part of a greater healing that’s taking place in the world.” I was surprised to learn just how many others have experienced miscarriage and how common it really is. I never got the Mother’s Day I wished for, but I hope this story can help lift some of the stigma that might exist for others, remove some of the shame they might carry, and remind them that they aren’t alone.
Photo taken at the place of prayer.