“And if we ever leave a legacy
It’s that we loved each other well.”
– Indigo Girls, Power of Two
It was the picture I was dreading to see. At first, I forgot it was even there. Tucked in with the images of my handsome husband and the smiling faces of our two beautiful children, and I had put on lipstick that day, so there was that. Scrolling through, my heart felt the lightest it had in days, and I almost forgot that I was devastated. And then I saw it. I instinctively squinted my eyes, now wet with familiar tears, so all I could see was fuzziness. The blurry edges of a dream and a life that had been so quickly given to me and then taken away. I closed my computer and felt the heaviness circle my heart like a lead blanket. In a way, the sorrow already felt like an old friend.
The faintest of blue plus signs appeared a couple of days before the photo session. Granted I took it with a grain of salt because I had found the test in the back of our bathroom cabinet and after dusting it off saw that it had expired in 2013. As our beautiful photographer and friend began to tuck away her camera on that day the plus sign flashed in my head, and I asked her if we could take a quick photo of the kids touching my belly just in case of the long-shot that expired test proved to be legit. I thought it would make a cute announcement photo.
As it turns out, it would, but not in the way I had imagined.
You and I were rooted together, in the most hallowed of bonds for 9 weeks and 4 days and then all of a sudden I found myself sitting on a shower curtain liner draped over a couch, waiting for you to leave me. I was powerless and helpless as I started to pray, something I don’t do everyday in a traditional sense. I reached out to dear friends and asked them to join my prayers and although they didn’t keep you with me, I find such comfort in that they surrounded you with love and light as you made your way into the stars, the sea, and back into the Earth.
In our last days together, we were celebrating the union of two incredible people alongside some of the most genuine friends that we are blessed beyond measure to know and love. You were dancing and laughing with some of the most beautiful human beings in the mountains of Colorado, one of the most sacred places in the world. I feel that it’s important for you to know this.
You left in the middle of the night. We were then at your great-aunt baba’s house, which is the one place that has remained constant safe haven throughout my whole life, and I am so grateful for that. Your big brother was there too and although I wanted him to go to sleep, he was too worried. I didn’t let him see any of the blood, but I was honest with him about what was happening. He saw the tears – so many tears – and we just held each other. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he felt sad on the outside but not on the inside. In the moment, I remember thinking how profound that was. Maybe he wasn’t sad on the inside because he knew things would be okay. We would be okay. As he hugged me he looked me in the eyes and said matter-of-factly, “Some babies just don’t survive, Mamma. But they are still special.” And off he went, finally to bed. For the rest of the night, I only wanted to live in the mind of a five year old.
You taught me how to surrender to something you have no control over. Something you would do anything to prevent. I kept hearing the words “not viable” and “threatened” but all I could think of was that is my BABY. My sweet, precious baby. Our midwife called me every hour on the hour just to check in. She even gave me her cell-phone number. I knew she was busy with other mothers and their babies, but she never missed a call, and I am also grateful for that level of care. Not even doctor to patient, but human to human, woman to woman.
I continue to fight the feeling that my body failed us and trust that our bodies knew it wasn’t our time. I am trying to appreciate my body for working with you to bring you to where you would rest. We were a team, and although that is not the ending I would have ever chosen, we kept each other safe. We didn’t end up in the hospital and were able to grieve in a placed that felt secure.
I am someone who thrives in resolution. Seeing things through the end. I can’t even fall asleep during a movie, not matter how tired I am because I can’t stand not knowing how things turn out. And this just feels so unresolved. I’ll have moments where I feel okay and then I’ll come across the pair of pants I bought you on a whim while I was shopping with your big sister, and I feel like if you touched me with a feather, I would crumble. I keep picturing what you would have looked like. I see your brother and sister holding you and coming to visit you in the hospital. I can see their bright smiles as they help wrap you in blankets that they too once found comfort swaddled within. They called you “boo boo tummy” and would kiss you first thing in the morning. Every morning. I miss that. Desperately.
When we got home from Colorado, I tossed a stack of pads on the shelf by the toilet next to positive pregnancy test that I hadn’t been able to bring myself to throw away. Because it was so unexpected, I felt like I needed to see that blue plus sign to remind me this me that this was all happening. I sat there and stared at that shelf for a long time. The industrial strength pads next to the test, both symbols of two completely different realities. I still go miles out of my way on my commute home to avoid the ice cream shop we went to after we bought another (non-expired) test. Just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. Last time we were there we were so happy and hopeful and now it feels wrong just to drive by it.
After those early days, my first instinct was not to talk about it. I still can’t bring myself to say the word miscarriage. Even typing it makes my fingers feel slow and heavy. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and stay there for a long time. But then, I felt an intense urge to write and talk. To give you voice. Because to not talk about losing you, meant not talking about you at all, and that was just not okay with me. Since this whole experience, I have had some of the most inspiring and honest conversations of my entire life. The grace that my friends, family, and husband have shown me, and continue to show me, during this time has touched me so profoundly in such a way that I feel has physically reshaped my heart. This support has put me square on the road to healing and from the depths of my new heart, THANK YOU. I know it will still be winding and bumpy, but without them, I wouldn’t have a path at all. I’ve had quite a few friends who have also shared that they too had suffered through miscarriages that I had no idea of. It was both heartbreaking and comforting. Heartbreaking because they had to go through it and comforting in that they had survived it. I deeply want this for every woman and family who experiences this type of loss. We need the safe space to grieve and even celebrate when we are ready. I feel such an emotional shift happening inside me every day as I work through this new existence and am finally at a place where I can say that I wouldn’t want to go back to the way I used to be because that is a world without the glimmer of you.
Someday, I will feel strong enough to frame that beautiful picture of our family of five, with you nestled inside me, embraced by your brother, sister, and daddy. We will always talk about you, honor you, and lay with you under the lilac tree in aunt baba’s back yard.
You were so loved. You are still so loved. We are ALL so well loved, sweet boo boo tummy. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Marissa B. Niranjan continues to navigate this road of loss and joy and is grateful for the opportunity to share her story in hopes it will encourage others to share theirs in whatever way works best for them. We are all in this together.
Speaking of gratitude, I can’t thank Charis Brice enough for capturing this cherished time in our lives. What a gift. She is seriously the very best.