Expecting the Unexpected

“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.

Niranjan-30 - Charis Brice

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. 

Comments

  1. Only you, my dearest niece, could write about this raw, painful experience and loss with such gentleness, honesty, and hopefulness. Sharing these beautiful, profound thoughts in this way will help all of us feel a little stronger and heal a little better.

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    • I love you dearly. Thank you for being part of so many of my big ‘life moments’ – both exciting and painful. I would not have gotten through it without you.

      Like

  2. Oh little one… Words fail me. While I have cared for many families that have lost a child. I have never felt as helpless as the night you called me crying and knowing that there was nothing I could do to “fix” what you were going through… As I have watched you handle yourself with grace and courage, I am comforted. I love so much…..

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    • I love you so so much, mamma! You have brought comfort to so many both through your career and just everyday being who you are. I am so grateful to be your daughter and hope our little one gone too soon feels the same about me. I learned from the best.

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  3. This was an extremely difficult piece to read. My heart hurts all over again, but the healing you’ve experienced with help from your wonderful friends and family warms my soul. I pray you continue to heal and I hope your article will positively touch the lives of people who read it. I love you, Bella Nipota!

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    • I feel your prayers and am so beyond grateful for them – and you!! Ti voglio tanto bene Zio mio!

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  4. My heart is heavy and hurts for you and your family. You are oh so very brave. The strength you carry within is astounding. I am praying for you guys and sending all my love. Thank you for sharing such a precious and delicate journey with us.. I love you

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    • Thank you so much, Kelly! I truly appreciate your support and am sending so much love (and hugs!) back your way. We need to catch up soon, and I hope all is well with you. Thanks again! XOXO

      Like

  5. Oh, Sweetheart. I have no words that would ever express how terrible I feel for your loss. I’m so sorry. Love you so, Cousin.

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    • Love you too, dearest cousin – SO SO much. We really do have the best family in the world if I do say so myself. 🙂 Thank you for everything. XOXO

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  6. I know the pain that twisted up out of my heart is nothing compared to what you feel having lost your tiny star. You are so loved! Thank you for sharing.

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    • Oh, Mamma Sinda. Thank you so much for your love and support for our little star. Moments like snuggling that sweet baby Camilla (AND that sweet baby Mary) of yours sure do help ease the pain. Love you so and can’t wait to see you when you are in Seattle next. XO

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  7. Love this Marissa! I had a still birth at 26 weeks almost 6 years ago. There are many days I’m too busy to think about her, but other days this comment hits home “I feel like if you touched me with a feather, I would crumble”. I also love your sons perspective, “Some babies just don’t survive Mamma. But they are still special.” Good for you for talking about it because like you said, there are SO many women out there that have experienced something similar you never knew about.

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    • Hi Lisa!! It’s so great to hear from you my dear. I actually remember seeing the photos you shared of your sweet baby Bre after she was born. I also remember thinking then (and think even more so now) that I was so happy you were able to honor her in such a beautiful way. Now her gorgeous younger sisters can always look at their gorgeous angel sister. It’s nice to be busy, because if we weren’t I think we would drown in it, but in a weird way, it also feels good to be sad because in those moments I remember that she existed. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and for sharing your heartache. For some reason, the shared pain makes everything feel lighter and more manageable. Like we are all in this crazy world together. Hugs to you and your family, friend! xo

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  8. You so beautifully put words and gave honor to this life! I’m in an endless stream of tears for you. Thank you for sharing in the raw middle, when darkness seems so strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, sweet Ashley. Your tears are my tears. Thank you for sharing them with me and for making the darkness lighter. Hugs to you and your beautiful family, friend! xo

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing this publicly. Having just gone through my third lost pregnancy, I found this incredibly comforting to read. When I didn’t think anyone could say ANYTHING that would make me feel even the tiniest bit better, you did. “We were a team, and although that is not the ending I would have ever chosen, we kept each other safe.” It’s a heartbreaking, yet beautiful way to look at it but for me, it’s helpful to frame it this way. I know you’re grieving and healing, but please know that you’re helping others grieve and heal at the same time.

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    • Hi Sarah! It is so wonderful to be connected to you. You have been in my heart since I read your sweet message, even if I did not have the words to respond until now. I was very hesitant to publish this article. In fact, my pinky was permanently stationed on the delete button the entire time I was writing, but your comment honestly makes it all worth it. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you found something of comfort in it, so thank you for saying that and for making ME feel better at a time when I thought that was pretty close to impossible. Losing a pregnancy is so hard because I feel like you are not only losing a life, but you are losing hope along with it. So much of your body, heart, and soul are invested in the most intimate way while you are growing that tiny life inside of you and to have that all just to abruptly end feels so unfair. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it all, but I want to let you know how brave you are, mamma. I wish you continued healing as you navigate this process and please don’t hesitate to reach out of you need anything at all. In the meantime, I am sending so much love and light your way. xo

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