One of the hardest things I had to do was reveal to my oldest son that I had a miscarriage at the age of 14 before I had him at 17.
We were having another one of our talks, and I felt it was time I opened up fully about my experiences as a teenager to help him be more mindful about taking that leap so soon.
In the midst of our conversation and me revealing the secret of my miscarriage, I found myself fighting back tears as my son searched my face for answers. All that could come out of his mouth was, "Dang Momma, you've been through a lot."
As I reflected, he was right. At that moment, the car ride couldn't seem longer as we rode in silence the rest of the way. I couldn't wait until we got home, so I could close myself off in my room and finally cry.
While I cried tears that were long overdue, I started to talk myself out of crying about it because it had been 18 years since it happened. I had other miscarriages (one that almost cost me my life) and even abortions, but I was numb to feeling anything about any of them. But for some reason, the 14-year-old girl in me still mourned and the wound it left still hurt me, even after all of these years. The day after the talk with my son, I realized why. I never allowed myself to grieve my first miscarriage, and I was still trying to prevent myself from doing so.
The day my parents found out I was pregnant is still a moment in my past that sends chills through my body.
Within a week of us discovering this newfound revelation, I began bleeding. My parents took me to the hospital, and the staff told me that they couldn't tell if I was just threatening a miscarriage or actually having one, so they sent me home bedridden. About an hour after I was home, I went to the restroom and felt a clump come out of me and there it was—my fetus floating in the toilet. It looked like a big blood clot. I remember standing over the toilet paralyzed. I couldn't stop staring at it, but instead of crying about it, I felt like it was the end of the distance between me and my dad even though he wasn't ecstatic that I had to endure a miscarriage.
At 14 years old, I thought I had no right to cry about the child I lost, and that mentality caused me to be insensitive and unsympathetic to miscarriages as a whole. I had no feelings towards my other miscarriages or when I heard about other women having miscarriages, and that was hard for me to admit. In fact, black women have a higher risk of miscarriage than white women. Failed pregnancies usually occur due to environmental or product exposure, previous health vulnerabilities like anemia, or genetic mechanisms that happen during the fetal development stage. And since the hospital told me miscarriages were normal, it didn't register in my brain that there was human inside of me.
Now, here I am, 18 years later, finally trying to allow myself to grieve and accept that I actually lost a human being, even though the reason behind it is uncertain.
In order to deal with the unknown, I just cling to the affirmation that it was what God thought was best for me. This idea makes the grieving process even harder because I'm a person who likes definite answers, but I must now accept the fact I may never know. So, how can I grieve?
In all honesty, I've been involved in a three-step grieving process for 18 years, and realize now that I have been stuck in the first two steps.
I've been in shock ever since I had to flush my fetus down the toilet and tried to only see it as a regular blood clot.
I felt guilty because I drunk white distilled vinegar right before I took the pregnancy test because I heard it would make you have a miscarriage (a truth I hate to reveal), and I hoped the vinegar would work a miracle and change those two lines to one. I wanted the baby gone, but I was naïve about the term and process of a miscarriage. Even now, I still feel guilty when I admit that one detail, and I'm working on trying to let it go.
The last stage I'm striving to get to is Acceptance. It's time I accept that it happened, stop blaming myself, God isn't to blame either, and remind myself it's OK to cry about it and feel the hurt. Accepting the hurt has been difficult for me, but I know it's the only way I can truly heal from it. My goal is to not rush myself through the process or be too hard on myself about getting over it. We live in a world now where we like to just act like it's easy to get over things and move on, and it's definitely not that simple.
If you are dealing with a miscarriage or have dealt with a miscarriage and are wondering if it's okay to grieve, my answer is yes. Even if it takes you 18 years to do it.
Also, do not be afraid to talk about it with others who have been through it or who can give empathy just by being an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry.