Two and a half years have passed since my miscarriage. My rainbow baby will be a year old in less than a month. The more time that goes by the less I feel like I am “allowed” to discuss what happened to me. One of my favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, introduced me to the idea of the Fraud Police. This is the idea that, especially in the creative world, you will always feel like you are getting away with something by creating and even becoming successful with whatever you create. (That is the gist of it but she explains it much better in her book, The Art of Asking.) Since giving birth to Atlas I have found that the Fraud Police linger on the edges of motherhood, always watching. But I am only now realizing that they exist in the world of loss, too. Why is this?
It is always when I feel like I’ve gotten used to navigating life after loss that something odd happens.
I recently reconnected with someone who I had not spoken to in six years. We had coffee and I caught her up on my life and marriage and children. When I arrived at the part of my story about my loss I hesitated. Part of me felt like sharing this detail about my life was superfluous. Why should I share my misery with someone I had not seen in so long? Would she think that I was just looking for attention or pity or sympathy? As I stumbled on my words telling about the miscarriage, it dawned on me that I felt a bit like a fraud.
It is never comfortable for me to talk about miscarriage. I always worry about hurting another person’s feelings or making their story feel invalid if they have experienced loss. And if someone has not experienced loss then I worry that I am making them uncomfortable. Or that they will think less of me for being seemingly obsessed with what happened to me. I cope with these worries by writing about it instead. Writing is easier than talking for me. And I know that most of the time my articles are read by someone seeking this topic and thus I am not dumping a bunch of emotion onto someone who did not want to hear about it.
I feel like now that I have Atlas I am not “allowed” to be sad or talk about my loss anymore.
A lot of my discomfort comes from the fact that I went on to have a living child after loss. Something that many women do not. I am under no illusions about the fact that I am lucky to hold Atlas every day. I worry it comes across that I am ungrateful if I talk about loss now that I have something happy beyond it. Even though the truth is that loss has made being a mother so much more complicated and emotional than I could have imagined. If I was able to have a child after miscarriage and I have happiness in my life, why talk about my loss? This is the question I ask myself. Or the question I assume others are asking me silently.
I talk about my miscarriage because it was the most traumatizing experience in my life. I talk about it because that baby matters to me. Miscarriage is now a part of my story. Something that fundamentally changed who I am. If I am catching up with or getting to know someone, then it is inevitable that the knowledge of my loss will arise. The Fraud Police may always remain but I need to work on not allowing them to prevent me from talking about loss. I can be a miscarriage survivor and still be a mother of a living child, as well as my lost child. One will never negate the other.
Photo by Maia Habegger