I will never forget the first time I felt utter betrayal by my own body. I was 33 years old, and 7 weeks pregnant with my first child. Being the overly optimistic person that I am, I (of course) tell my family and closest friends my exciting news. Everything about my pregnancy feels right, and I cannot believe I am going to be a mom for the first time. But I wasn’t going to be a mom—not YET anyways.
My eyes burn with tears, the room spins, and my throat gasps for air. Stunned, I stare down in disbelief at my bloodstained dreams — my Mother’s Day miscarriage.
Racing to the hospital for my suspected miscarriage warrants an emergency in my head. Surely “they” can fix this right? I refuse to believe otherwise. “We can stop this miscarriage.” The mantra plays on repeat in my head as we drive to the ER. No apparently you cannot fix miscarriages. There is nothing I can do.
Fuzzy from emotional overload and confusion, I hear people softly whisper the normal comforting things like “Its not your fault.” “This is very common.” “Just because you miscarried this one doesn’t mean you will miscarry again.” I feel no comfort by any of these statements in this hour of loss.
Why? What was wrong with me? Why has my body failed me? Questions for the Doctor flood my weary brain. Is it because of the strenuous ropes course training for work I recently completed, unknowingly pregnant? The gentle Doctor assures me this has nothing to do with it. I am unsure which answer I prefer. If “this” was caused by something I had done then maybe I could fix it, but I would feel immense guilt for “causing” “this.” If conversely, it wasn’t my fault, then how do I learn to trust my body again?
In a world that picks and prods at our bodies and self image, we as women strive to feel body empowerment. Part of this “empowerment” is having control of our own bodies. But through pregnancy we forfeit so much of this ability to control outcomes. We worry, hope, pray, and wish that everything will be OK for this tiny human. And when we experience pregnancy loss we are supposed to just accept that our body can fail us without our consent? No! Just no. I don’t want to accept this. I feel lost and angry at my uterus.
We all have our own way to reconcile with personal betrayals, and the physical betrayal cast upon us by our own bodies is a precarious relationship to reconcile. Personally, I turn to working out to spiritually and physically heal. More specifically, I find recourse in boot camp. With each punch, push-up, sprint, and lift, I remember and respect my body for its physical capacity to change, grow, and become more efficient. “I” feel empowered to make my body the healthiest version of itself. With each sweat, I shed a layer of guilt and uncertainty.
Shortly after my first miscarriage, I find myself pregnant again. Newfound power is replaced by a powerless fear of my bootcamp causing a miscarriage. Well, in truth, in this moment in time, I feel terrified of absolutely everything and anything “causing” a miscarriage. Stress floods my thoughts and then a bout of anxiety hits me like a wall and screams at me, “DON’T BE ANXIOUS OR YOU MIGHT MISCARRY!” Thank you “mind” helpful as always. Oh the joys and conundrums of being a functional basket case.
With my Doctor’s blessing though, I chose to race through the fear and to (safely) physically challenge myself through my pregnancy — bootcamp post miscarriage. There are so many things we have no control over throughout pregnancy, and with every punch, push-up, sprint, and lift, I remember, “Yes I can.” And like the serenity prayer I hold ironclad tucked into my soul, I let go of that which I have little control over, and OWN all that I do.
So how exactly do we learn to trust ourselves and our bodies after a miscarriage? Well, we don’t. Not completely anyways. At least I couldn’t. Because the unfortunate reality is at any point something in ANYONE’s pregnancy and life can go wrong NO MATTER WHAT WE DO.
So we work through the pain and anxiety, and alongside it, all the while knowing that what we feel is completely normal. For the only fact pregnancy and pregnancy loss can really teach us about control is we have little of it. So we attempt repairs between the mind-body relationship. And we move forward best we know how, knowing our limits, but also our capabilities.
Two healthy pregnancies and two children later, each day I try to remember these lessons. My soul is mercy to their hearts, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying.