Please note: This post covers the subjects of pregnancy and loss.
That’s me. December 2002. Wearing my bulkiest sweater and trying my best to create the illusion of more than a tiny 10 week baby bump.
Oh, the things Baby D and I had already done. We braved the bitter cold at the Newark International Antiques Fair in Nottinghamshire, lugging our many finds on and off trains, The Tube and a bus. We marveled at the Pont du Gard and all things Provence including an unforgettable meal at La Fourchette in Avignon. Not long after this photo was taken we were off to Bonneval-sur-Arc, a magical little village tucked into the Alps near the Italian border where we rang in the new year, post card style -- snow gently falling as we watched the torchlight skiers make their glowing descent down the mountain.
2003 would be your year, dear baby.
4pm, January 14, wet, cold and pitch black – a typical winter day in England. My (then) husband and I waited quietly to see the doctor (ever aware to not be the loud Texans). Introductions made and details charted we were down to business. I couldn’t wait to get the first glimpse of my little world traveler.
I was a newbie, but this sonogram seemed to be taking a long time. The doctor asked, “When did you say your last cycle was?“ then he said something about a heartbeat, but I couldn’t hear him. The room had gone silent for me. I vaguely remember an internal sonogram to confirm what I didn’t need to be told. I don’t remember the blood draw or the instructions or the drive home. Had I even spoken? Oddly, I remember the nurse was an American and I found that comforting.
Officially, I had a missed miscarriage. At some point the pregnancy was “no longer viable” but my body hadn’t gotten the message so it continued to act, look and feel pregnant. Barely into my 2nd trimester I had a choice to either let my body catch-up and miscarry naturally or have a routine procedure. I decided to give my body a chance to handle this.
Three grueling weeks of trusting that my body would cooperate.
9pm, February 4. It started just like the pamphlets said it would.
1:30am, February 5. She looked at me and said, “You’re in labor.”
Labor? Somewhere in the middle of the pain and exhaustion I hadn’t recalled the list of warning signs of when to seek medical care. By the time I had woken my husband at 1am I had lost a dangerous amount of blood and as the nurse would later explain, I was in full labor.
I don’t know that nurse’s name and I don’t recall what she looked like but I distinctly remember meeting her eyes as I stood in the triage room, mid-contraction. She took my arm and stayed with me right through the delivery.
As nurses do, right? Except, her shift had ended just before I came in. She was simply passing through triage on her way out to meet her husband. A chance encounter.
Sixteen years later, her act of compassionate kindness stands out clearly in a sea of blurred details. That’s what this story is really about — acts of kindness.
Miscarriage is the most common form of pregnancy loss. Yet, it’s a strangely taboo subject. I hope sharing a part of my story, talking about it publicly, will help lessen the uneasiness. Loss makes us uncomfortable and we often don’t know the right thing to say or do.
I was graced with tremendous love and support from friends and family. Two instances stand out. I’ve called on these examples time and again as my guide to how to approach difficult situations. I hope they can serve you too.
After excitedly announcing the pregnancy to everyone back home via email I had to follow up with news of the loss. Within hours of sending that second email my friend Pat called me from Austin. An email response would have been easier and more than sufficient, especially given the bother of making an international call. Instead, he chose to call. He led with, “Sunshine, I am so sorry” then he simply listened to me sob.
Kindness. In action.
A couple weeks after the miscarriage, I received a letter from my friend LB. She is genuine and loving and filled with grace. Her words that day were no different. She led with saying she didn’t know the right thing to say. That simple truth was immediately comforting. It felt like we were in this together: I don’t know what to say, but I’m here.
Kindness. In action.
I wasn’t sure why I felt compelled to tell this story until these particular details flooded back to me. They are a reminder that kindness is a deliberate act. Kindness gets involved.
Kindness is always worth the effort.