You have reached thirty, and this is the time when your friends start getting pregnant.
Your twenties were for weddings – bridal showers and bachelorette parties, bridesmaid dresses and ‘oh my gosh, your ring is GORGEOUS!’ Late night maid of honor speeches and doing your hair and makeup for hours to have it limp and melting after five minutes of sitting in the chairs of a late evening summer ceremony. Your wedding was perfect though.
But now you’re in your thirties and the babies start to arrive in droves. Cutesy pregnancy announcements. Ultrasound photos. Baby registries. It feels like everyone you know is starting their little family.
Your friends excitedly share their news of positive pregnancy tests and you are overjoyed, of course you are, because you know they’ve been trying. Their prayers are answered. You cry and hug them. And your pregnancy comes too. The test is positive and you cry and hug your husband, we did it. We were trying and our prayers were answered. Your joy is multiplied when you learn you share a due date with two more friends. An accidental pregnancy pact, the three of us, how wonderful.
And a small voice inside your mind says, ‘which one of us will it be?’
Pregnancy is hard. Your boobs are sore, so you go ahead and buy some nursing bras because they don’t have wires and you’ll need them anyway. You text your friends about your weird headaches and what you are craving today and someday these hard days will all be worth it. But pregnancy is wonderful, too. How your heart does a flip when you remember ‘You. Are. Pregnant.’
The reactions from your family as you tell them all the great news and see them cry happy tears. How gently, lovingly, your husband places his hand on your belly and smiles.
Exactly a month after you stood shaking barefoot in the bathroom as you held the test, you stand shaking barefoot in a gynaecologist office as she says quietly, I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.
And a small voice inside your mind says, ‘I knew it.’
You don’t get to make that special announcement you were planning. No registry to be made. There’s nothing on the ultrasound to take a photo of, except a dark, bean shaped spot where your baby used to be.
No one talks about what happens to the 1 in 4 when she tries to work out the first time after her loss. She starts crying during push-ups so loudly her husband can hear over the rap music. Or how it goes the first time she prays. ‘Why did you do this to me?’ Or wonders about her Google history for the days, weeks, months afterward: misoprostol side effects, bible study for miscarriage, grief counselling near me. Or what she thinks when her favourite Instagram influencer posts a baby bump. ‘That bitch.’
Miscarriage is hard. It is hard in all the ways she did not imagine. She did not understand that her body would still think that it was pregnant for months, and all the first trimester symptoms would still last long after the bleeding stopped with no happy reward for the woes endured. She had no idea how much energy it takes to process grief, happiness, envy, and shame all at once. She did not count on sobbing without warning: in the shower, making breakfast, walking her dog, and always always always before sleep. She didn’t expect that every pregnancy milestone would become to her a symbol of naivety; to think that somehow a plus sign and a black and white photo means a real, living baby will be here someday.
She wasn’t ready to see a dark cloud come over her pregnant friends each time she spoke to them, to become a living reminder of the worst thing that could happen to them.
Time goes on.
The first baby shower after your loss, is for a best friend, a bridesmaid. Her mom goes over the top for the décor, baby in bloom. Flowers everywhere. It’s been three months and you can’t stop having flashbacks. You see your best friend and are overjoyed – she’s so beautiful. But behind your smile is rage, and behind your joy is jealousy, and behind your heart is fear. You eat brunch without tasting it and excuse yourself during the presents to cry outside in the 90-degree heat.
But someone catches you on the way back inside. She sees your red cheeks, your puffy eyes, and softens in a knowing way. She says, I know how difficult today has been. She says, I’m proud of you for being here. She says, the first shower was hard for me too. Her bracelet has five dates on it; you recall the faces of her three children.
And behind your fear, in a small, quiet corner, is hope.
Brittany Hynes is a 30 year old from Nashville, TN who loves living life with her husband and dog. She is expecting her first child in June.