I love champagne. Good champagne. Every year for New Year’s Eve, I splurge and buy a great bottle of Veuve Clicquot. It’s a wonderful way to ring in the new year. I also pick up a cheap bottle to share with everyone once the good stuff is gone. Even though the second bottle is cheap, it’s actually very good and better, in my opinion, that a lot of the mid-tier champagnes. We celebrate the new year with our friends and family at our shared property near Mt.Baker in Washington. This year is going to pose a challenge:
How do I not let people notice that I’m not drinking?
It’s not like it’s a big party – there are a handful of us, all sitting around the campfire drinking beer or wine. I’m not ready to tell anyone at this point, it’s way too early, I’m only five weeks. Besides, I definitely want my mother to be the first person to know. M and I have been talking about some strategies of fake drinks: pretending to mix in vodka with my cranberry and soda, and that sort of thing. When it’s time for the champagne, do I toss it over my shoulder? Such a tragedy to waste it!
It’s going to be tough. If it comes down to it, we’ve decided we’re just going to deny. We’ll see if it works.
In dealing with my miscarriage, I went over every possible reason I could have lost my baby. Some were scientific, but many were not. One of the things I blamed myself for was for being too smug, too proud to have conceived so easily, especially since my sister in law had been off birth control for nearly a year. I thought I was in better shape, took better care of myself and was more capable of carrying a baby. I thought perhaps the miscarriage was a way for God to humble me. Maybe I held on to too much rage, honking at other drivers when they weren’t driving the way I thought they should drive. I thought that perhaps my heart rate was elevated to such a level in my anger when my puppy was attacked at the dog park that it wasn’t good for my baby, and that I had killed it by not being calm and happy and forgiving enough.
I know all of these things are unlikely and unproven, and that the vast majority of miscarriages are caused to a genetic abnormality that is decided at the moment of conception. However, that did not stop me from wondering if I hadn’t done enough to earn my baby.
With this pregnancy, as new as it is, I think that always in the back of my mind is a tiny voice reminding me of karma. There have been a few times in recent weeks when I’ve done a good deed, not with the intention of buying my baby by acting as a good samaritan, but because I’ve felt like it would be good for my soul. With all the heartache and agony that I’ve been dealing with, it’s as if I need some other kind of nourishment. A pregnancy after miscarriage is ever more cherished than one that has never had to deal with this kind of loss.
On the Sunday after Christmas, I went with M to visit my dad’s grave. I admit that it has been far too long since I’ve gone. Even though it has been nearly 20 years since his death, I still can’t visit him without tears. Even now, as I type, my eyes are welling up. I loved him so much and I still miss him. (It probably doesn’t help that I have the nostalgic sounding Gran Torino song playing on my laptop.) As we stood over my dad’s grave, I read the inscription silently in my head, as I always do. I wrote it for him as my farewell when I was fourteen:
you’re here in my heart
and though we must part
we will meet again
in a land far away
a land without pain
we will be together
just good memories
until we meet again
I asked my dad to look out for me this time, to look after the tiny baby growing in my belly. I told him I was sorry that I didn’t come here last time. I asked him for his blessing, and to be our guardian angel. I have always believed that my dad is with me and looks out for me. On very rare occasions, he has visited me in my dreams. Sometimes, mostly when I was younger, I truly felt him with me. And on that day, as M and I stood there with our arms wrapped around each other, I hoped that he was with us again, all three of us: M, me, and the little blueberry growing inside of me.
For nearly two months now, pretty much all I’ve been doing is trying to deal with my miscarriage. I’ve experienced a huge range of emotions from guilt to anger to jealousy, and of course the all-encompassing sadness. For weeks, the very first thought in my mind when I woke up each morning was: I had a miscarriage. My pregnancy is over. Our baby is dead.
With the passing days, then passing weeks and now passing months, I’ve started to be able to answer my own question: Is there life after miscarriage? I can now answer yes, but not without adding that life will never be the same. I don’t know if I think about my miscarriage every day anymore, but it is still a prevailing thought. I can’t look at my pregnant (and now showing) co-worker without pangs of regret, feelings of loss and more than a twinge of jealousy. After all, today would have marked 16 weeks for me. I might have been starting to grow a little tummy.
Last night, I burst into tears when reading another blog. The author’s beautiful post was a letter to her unborn child at 7 weeks. She called it her “little blueberry.” If you’ve read my very first posts, you would know that this is what I used to call my baby. Each week, I would read the week-by-week guides that walked me through the baby’s development, explaining how big the embryo would be by comparing it to fruit. I made it all the way from an orange seed to a large raspberry before I miscarried at 8 weeks.
Today I had an experience that really put things into perspective for me. I’ve been very focused on myself lately, just trying to deal with the miscarriage. My workplace had arranged for a group of staff to do some volunteer work at a local charity, packing up Christmas hampers for families in need. I was thrilled to be able to take part in this, and decided to also sponsor a particular family by raising money to pay for a hamper full of food, school supplies and warm clothing, plus hopefully get them a few extra gifts. Because of a connection I had made with a wonderful woman via Twitter, we were able to have the opportunity to deliver the hamper and gifts in person directly to the single mother and her two kids.
We packed up food, jackets, scarves, mittens, notebooks and other supplies, as well as a crock pot. With the money we raised, we also bought each of the kids $150 worth of gift certificates to stores that they would like to shop at, and got mom a certificate to treat herself to a spa treatment, plus some bubble bath to enjoy at home. We met the family at their co-op apartment, and upon seeing all the packages we had brought, the mother burst into tears. Her little boy was so happy to see all the gifts. It melted my heart to see him excitedly packing up the bags and boxes into a cart to take upstairs to their home.
I feel like we changed their life a little bit today by giving them Christmas. This was an experience that was good for my soul – something I think I really needed to help put things back into perspective. For the first time since October, I felt lucky.