by Sarah Gerkins
My husband and I were standing in the middle of the street when my phone rang. I saw that the call was from my OB’s office and my hand began to shake.
My stomach clenched, but I answered the phone. The nurse had the results from the blood test.
The next few months were a flurry of all of the excitement of something coming to life. First, we told our families. Then when it became more real, we told our friends.
Everyone was so excited for us.
We talked about names. At Lowes, we debated paint chips, shades, and hues. Finally, we decided on the perfect colors. The furniture is something we never quite agreed on, and I brought it up for months.
I installed a wall decal with the name in big letters. One of the few and biggest fights of our marriage was over a stupid sticker.
Everything cost a lot more than we thought it would. There was so much research. We thought we knew what we were doing, but quickly realized how many gaps there were.
We got all the equipment. Insurance and paperwork were in order. We planned a huge party and invited everyone we knew (and some we didn’t). The big day finally came, and we were ready.
Nervous, but ready.
We didn’t have a baby.
That morning out in the street, the nurse didn’t call to tell me I was pregnant. Instead, she told me in a consolatory tone that my HCG levels had dropped.
It was a miscarriage.
Neither of my miscarriages were straightforward. Both included several days of hope-tinged waiting. After two days of thinking there might be a chance for this second pregnancy, she gave me the pronouncement: my baby was dead.
I ended the call and stared at my phone, waiting to see which emotions would arise.
Tears formed and I tried to hold them back. Hands to my face, my husband enveloped me and let me cry. At least we had moved out of the street and were standing in an empty parking spot.
“Do you want to go home?” he whispered.
I nodded. My curly hair rubbed against his buzz cut. We got in my car and drove away.
We didn’t have a baby.
Instead, we tried to have a business.
Before the unwanted interruption, my husband and I had been looking at a storefront in the downtown area of our city. The space formerly housed a wine tasting room, but it had a kitchen. The kitchen was small, but we could make it work for a restaurant.
A few days later, my husband and his business partners signed the paperwork. Then the name… and colors… and furniture.
They’re very similar – having a baby and having a business.
I even thought that to myself multiple times in the aftermath of the miscarriage: “The restaurant is my baby now.”
Except they aren’t the same at all.
Instead of facing my grief at another miscarriage, I dove into marketing the restaurant. Starting a business is hard work and easily consuming.
Instead of grief overshadowing me, I let the business overtake me.
I commuted to my full-time job and came home and worked another 20+ hours each week for the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I was sad about the miscarriage and cried a lot, but I never really faced the loss.
There is no replacement for a baby. There is no replacement for working through grief and anger.
The pain sat waiting for me when everything unraveled.
Eleven months later, my husband was working at least 80 hours a week, had dropped 20 pounds, and was losing his hair. I had surgery to remove a fibroid tumor and a month later ended up in the ER with hemorrhaging that almost took my life.
Two weeks after that scare, as I was still in the early phases of recovering, things with the restaurant didn’t go as we planned. Suddenly, he didn’t have a job, I had almost died, and medical bills were on the way.
Grief took that opportunity to emerge from the shadows of my heart, and now it had more ammunition. The miscarriage, the business and my medical issues were all combined into one terrible trifecta of internal pain.
One night I sat down in the hall where I had passed out waiting for the ambulance, and I cried out to God. I begged for some relief to the piercing emotional pain, for any glimpse of hope that this wasn’t the end for me, or for my husband and me.
Strangely, at that moment, I had a clear feeling that this might literally be the worst season of my life. And somehow that thought made me feel better.
I was down, but not done.
I knew I could make it a little bit longer.
I could make it to tomorrow, and hopefully, that day would be better than today, and the next would be better than tomorrow. That’s what happened. Each day was a little bit better and a little bit better.
I’m still on a journey to heal all of the hurt and unravel the emotions I shoved aside. That’s hard in its own right. Therapy pokes unpleasantly at the wounds, but it does make a difference.
Instead of a constant dagger lodged in my heart, I feel it slowly inching it’s way out, relieving the pressure and allowing healing. I look forward to hearing a friend or co-worker’s pregnancy announcement without the twinge of “why not me?”
Though it’s scary, I hope for the future.
No matter how bad things get, you can make it. This might be the worst time of your life, but I’m hoping with you that tomorrow will be a little bit better than today and the day after that and the day after that.
So don’t give up.