A few weeks ago I put a shout out to our clan for contributing writers. Sky was one of the first to pipe up. She met us with Kickstarter and we've lived in a few of the same places, sharing big love for adventure and motherhood. She is a soul sister, by far.
Today, she's writing a real and honest story on miscarriage, pregnancy, and how acupuncture helped her through the process.
Journey along with us, we are grateful for you and your brave story, Sky.
My second miscarriage began at work.
I went to the bathroom and blood and tissue dropped-fell-poured out of me into the toilet. I stuffed toilet paper in my underwear, ran to my car, drove home blind with tears.
Three days later I sat across from the midwife I had worked so hard to get, weeping. It was supposed to be our nine week appointment--our first. She told me she wasn’t worried.
“Take a break from trying. Go get acupuncture,” she said. “And plan a vacation. I’ll take you when you get pregnant again, I promise. I know this is hard, but it happens.”
It happens. The words echoed around the small world that knew about the miscarriages. The plaid-flannel shirt wearing radiologist who looked into my empty womb said it. Friends who didn’t know what else to say said it.
The words were meant to soothe me--to tell me I was not alone and that I would surely go on to have a baby. But they didn’t. Aside from being so grief-stricken I could barely order a coffee without dissolving into tears--and then being embarrassed by my grief (was I allowed to feel such sorrow for a baby that never really was?)--the second miscarriage flooded me with fear. Possibilities that had seemed like distant stars from another galaxy now descended on me with blazing, leaden clarity.
I might never carry a baby to term.
Even if I did, the baby could have a major heart, brain or other debilitating defect.
If not that, a developmental issue or delay.
Even if I did have a perfect baby, they could come down with some unspeakably awful disease.
I could have a stillborn baby.
I could lose a living child.
It all felt unbearable. Like the cramps with a vice-grip on my pelvis as my uterus expelled the gone-out flicker of life. So I took the midwife’s advice and booked myself an acupuncture appointment and flights to Iceland.
Her name was Kelly. She was young with perfect skin, long brown hair and sparkling eyes. She took my wrist into her hand to feel my pulse and listened to me talk about the miscarriages. She told me she had worked with a lot of women like me that had gone on to have healthy pregnancies. Acupuncture, she told me, would ‘promote’ pregnancy.
How? I asked.
It would normalize hormones, improve blood flow to my uterus, heighten my immune system. Also: it would relax me.
I got undressed, lay on the table. She put the needles in, rubbed peppermint oil on my temples, filled the room with yoga music and whale calls, and left me.
My body prickled at the edges. I felt as if someone had wrapped me in a blanket and held me.
Three months later, I was pregnant again. I was too afraid to be excited. I wouldn’t let myself read the weekly updates about the size of the fetus or think about prenatal anything. Every time, I went to the bathroom or felt a shadow of a cramp in my belly, worry rippled through my body. The first trimester stretched in front of me like a desert.
But I did book weekly appointments with Kelly.
And Kelly was excited. Because I couldn’t tell anyone but my husband, she became the girl who would ask me how I was feeling, what was happening with my body and smile at me in the warm way that people smile at pregnant women. She gave me stinky Chinese herbs that I would mix with water in a shot glass and gulp down every morning and night.
On her table, in the darkness, I allowed myself to think about the baby. I allowed myself to feel all the things I tried to keep in check during the day. Including hope.
The more people I talked to about my miscarriages and the more I thought about the people I knew--the more I realized that I knew someone who had lived through all of my greatest fears. My mom’s mom had lost her 16-year-old son. My dad’s mom had had stillborn baby. Had they endured unspeakable sorrow? Yes. But they had survived. They had had good lives.
When you are lying on a table with needles in you, you must be. You cannot run away into doing - or distract yourself with the rest of the world. And so acupuncture became a place where I could live with all truths and possibilities. Where I came to accept that trying for and wanting a baby was like all things in life. It would happen or it would not. There would be always be 10 million things I could never know about the future. I could not get lost in the weeds of what I did not and could not know.
What was certain was now. I was in a dark room. I was pregnant. I was loved. I was alive.
Whatever came next would be my life.
Sky England lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and son. She blogs about motherhood here.