On April Fools Day in 2020, I had my first miscarriage. Exactly one year later, on April 1st 2021 I had my fourth.
It used to be one of my favorite holidays, and the side of myself that loves humor (and pranks) wants to say that maybe it’s karma for all of the mayhem I’ve unleashed over the years (like the time I sent a task rabbit to deliver lingerie to Charlie’s office, or covered our apartment with fake money). Or maybe it’s generational karma, from those times my mom told my dad that construction workers had accidentally bulldozed through our living room or when we teamed up to call Charlie and tell him Just Salad had selected him for a customer loyalty photoshoot (a personal favorite).
Just remembering these moments is an attempt to make a day that is now quite traumatic, fun again. Maybe once I regain the mood to torture my loved ones, I will truly be back to myself. But this year ain’t it.
Contrary to what you might think, I very rarely share things in real time here (I’m a Scorpio, after all). One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve gleaned from Brene Brown over the years is to not talk about something publicly until you’ve fully processed it. I have a hard enough time talking about this stuff privately, which is why some of my nearest and dearest are reading about this for the first time.
Recently, I’ve been able to talk about our losses without crying. So I thought it was time. But even telling Charlie I felt like writing something about it was like picking a scab. And not the fun part! The aftermath when you realize, oops, I’m bleeding again.
Putting some of the pain down on virtual paper really doesn’t seem to get any easier. But it’s helped me tremendously whenever a member of the shitty fertility club speaks out. And even more so when a few of you have reached out to me with a 6th sense that this is what has made the last two years so hard behind the scenes for me.
The infertility label has never really felt right for me since my eggs are DTP (down to procreate) but my body, being hyper-autoimmune, is not interested in having foreign objects growing inside of it. I’ve gotten a lot of the “well, at least you can get pregnant…that’s great!” from well-meaning friends, who have clearly never been part of this club. (I didn’t slap them, which especially now, feels like a small victory.)
But of course, where I do identify, is the heaps of medical trauma. I spent the first year of the pandemic either pregnant (7 months total) or post-partum. Some of the drugs I was given as medical interventions, coupled with the rollercoaster ride of hormones, brought on some of the darkest thoughts I’ve ever experienced. Then there were the sonogram technicians with no bedside manner, the predatory dentist that did two unnecessary procedures with anesthesia while I was pregnant (right before miscarriages #1 & #2), the many many injections, not to mention the carnage coming out of my body.
Oh, and the pandemic! Pregnancy anxiety got funneled into COVID anxiety, and vice versa until I’m not sure where one started and the other ended.
After April Fools Day last year, I knew I had hit my loss quota. But having a baby in someone else’s body meant another year packed with multiple rounds of IVF and egg retrieval recovery, seeing endometriosis specialists, and of course mourning this rite of passage. Trying to move away from the shame of not being fit to grow a human. Constantly wondering if I quit too soon, if one more random change or treatment would be the silver bullet (not to mention, the professional feeling of failure for not being able to overcome this struggle). Slowly, trying to accept that my body is still a beautiful vessel for many other things, even if it never seems to cooperate with my dreams.
And then balancing all those emotions with feeling so damn grateful for the practitioners and friends with incredible empathy who got me through. And for the others who made me laugh or smile without knowing how much I needed that distraction. For being financially able to pursue plan B, C and D. For being born in a time where other plans exist in the first place. For my own know-how and advocacy, and the work that led me here. For knowing the right people to talk to, for speaking up for myself, for knowing what I was willing to try and when I needed to stop. For the most incredible, patient partner.
For the 15 sopping wet used tissues sitting beside me! And the hundreds of soggy soldiers that came before them.
And, of course, for you guys. Every year I try to publish my “year of health in review” where I go through all the nitty gritty of the latest challenges. Because somehow Every. Single. Year. There is one.
In 2020, the theme was clearly infertility and dental malpractice, two story lines that dovetailed a lot. But neither had any sense of closure or resolution until the tail end of 2021.
Every time I tried to sit down and chronicle these last two years, I couldn’t. Eventually I will. This is the first step. And one I really wanted to take because there has just been SO MUCH loss. For everyone.
I get messages from you guys every single day struggling through one diagnosis or another. I have so so many friends who are struggling to get pregnant right now, many who had no trouble with their first born. I don’t know when the planets will shift into a happier time, but right now, we are all feeling it.
So thank you for your grace (no pity, please!), and for respecting my boundaries, both in my inability to share freely, and also not really having the capacity to give advice as generously as usual. Ya’ll know how snarky the weekly Q&A has gotten…
Did I also mention I launched a book smack in the middle of all of this?
For anyone who needs to hear it: you are capable of doing incredibly hard things. There is not necessarily any glory in that strength, but it is a fact nonetheless.
Even this bruised heart is capable of incredible love, for all your pandemic babies, and so much more.
Happy April Fools Day. I hope by next year, I’ll be back to the mischief alongside the mourning.
With health and hedonism,