Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marriage: Surviving Loss

I've talked about falling in love being easy and marriage being hard.  This week, I've found out how hard it really can be.  The foundations of our relationship were shaken by something the size of a pea.  On Sunday, we had our third miscarriage.  Almost 7 weeks along, following all the rules, and starting to feel joy for the first time when the dull ache began in my back.  Fast forward 6 hours to my husband taking me to the ER, the ambulance ride transferring me to the larger hospital, and ending around 3 in the morning with a doctor abruptly saying, "Well, the pregnancy was lost."

I had been scared then suspicious when the bleeding started.  By the time the doctor came in with the news, I already knew but was praying for a miracle.  I wanted a "Dr. House" moment where he said the baby was fine but my spleen had decided to exit from the wrong way.  I didn't care what happened to me, but please God - don't take this child too.  The abrupt declaration by the doctor and lack of ability to explain why it happened left me numb for a few moments.

The second he left the room, it was like the sound came back on and I felt everything.  I sobbed and ached.  My husband held me as I lost it (for the first of many times).  The nurse helped me clean up and dress to go home.  They gave me prescriptions to handle the pain and nausea.  I was told to contact my OB/GYN and do followup to make sure everything was happening naturally.  That was it.

For them, the event was over.  For me, it was just beginning. 

Five years ago, my parents went on vacation.  The third day they were gone, I got a call to come to their house by my brother.  I figured something was really wrong since he would tell me nothing on the phone - but the whole ride I prayed that it was anything but the worst.  Instead, I found out my father - one of my best friends - had died inexplicably while swimming - one of his favorite activities.  Because they were out of the country, there was no autopsy before returning his body to the U.S.  So to this day, I have no idea why my father died at the very young age of 55. 

That day, I felt the worst pain - at that time - that I had ever experienced.  I raged, cried, screamed and swore.  I was angry at everyone from God down to myself.  No one was without blame.  It took me a very long time to work through all the stages of grief - some days, I still regress.  I was sure I would never feel that pain again until the day I (very very long time from now) say goodbye to my mother.

Turns out, I was wrong.  The past few days I've felt like my heart was ripped from my chest.  I've lost the ability to communicate with people I love.  There are no words.  I doubt everything and everyone - going so far as to tell my husband maybe I'm so damaged we shouldn't be together.  Luckily, I'm married to the right man.  He can see through the words to the hurt and depression so he knows I don't really mean that. 

As we talked through things, I realized that my innate inability to really lean on others had been stripped away.  I was physically incapable of powering through - just like when I lost my Dad.  The first two days, I tried to get up and dressed - to behave as normal.  I ended up in a ball of grief in the shower the first day and sobbing helplessly in a parking lot the second day.  The sadness has given way to irrational jealousy but I am aware that "this too shall pass".

I used to think that was a glib and cruel statement, but I realize now it's just a fact of life.  I'm thankful for every word of comfort, sorrow, and reassurance from friends and family at this time.  I'm blessed to have a husband who is willing to carry me when I cannot walk.  I'm grateful for learning to lean and accept help with grace.

Nonetheless, I would give anything to have my hope and joy back.  To know I was going to have that child so loved already by its parents.  The reality is not going to pass but my acceptance will grow and the sorrow will. 

If you have been down this path or fear going down this road, know that you are not alone.  You're not the first to doubt God's plan, to feel that life is cruel, or doubt the very body you live inside.  You are not the first to cry for a faceless dream and it's completely normal to feel everything you feel.  We are not the first, we shall not be the last - and while there is no solace - there is comfort in knowing we do not walk alone.

Can a marriage survive loss?  Only if you stand together.

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