I will be the first to say that a four-month word was not in my plan. My plan, of course, was a beautiful collection of twelve different words by the end of the year, each representing some virtue or practice I worked to incorporate within my life throughout the year. Rarely, however, does life proceed according to plan, and the months of February through May served as both a difficult and ultimately rewarding reminder of that simple truth. Instead, therefore, of one lovely word a month, I write this, having realized that even though I didn’t take the time to establish a goal or to write well-crafted posts about my experiences, progress, or thoughts, I can still easily apply the idea and concept I started in January.
Beginning in February and carrying through the end of May, my life centered around perseverance. My four-month word. Steadfastness, grit, endurance, persistence, preservation. All of these things, wrapped up in my word of choice, perseverance. In these months I experienced the joy of new life and the heartbreak of an early loss; the cold grip of depression; the normal and not-so-normal stresses of adulthood; a graduate thesis from start to finish; unyielding illness; and more self-examination than I care to admit.
My indecision, and hesitancy about writing publicly on these topics is the primary reason this post is so long overdue. How many women openly share their experience of miscarriage? How many are willing to discuss the toll it had on not only their physical health, but their mental health? How often do we discuss these common and shared experiences with those outside our immediate family, or without the guise of an internet persona? I finally recognized that if I wanted to see a change in how society views and addresses things like miscarriage or mental health, there is nothing more powerful I can do than to be a part of that change.
For nearly a month, spanning February and March, I existed in a precarious state, waiting to learn if my pregnancy was viable. After all the tests, there was nothing to do but wait, and the four weeks spent in limbo were incomparable to anything I have ever experienced. Between March 7th and March 9th, I lost my baby; I felt relieved that the waiting was over, and I then, of course, incredibly guilty for feeling that way. I was crushed by the lost life, that I had so joyously celebrated nine weeks over, and couldn’t help wondering if it was something about me that ended it. I doubted myself, I doubted my ability to ever have children, I doubted my ability to recover, to work past it, to move on. Paired with a post-loss illness that left me running for a bathroom less than sixty minutes after every meal for nearly a month, the demands of my final semester of graduate school, and the unwarranted pressure I placed on myself, my mental health deteriorated. The time between then and now has been filled with hard work, tears, anger, frustration, comfort, love, sleepless nights, threats give up, falling down, getting up, prayer, hope, hopelessness, progress, and above all, perseverance.
I have come a long way since February. I’ve learned a lot. I accomplished some truly outstanding things. I became closer to family and friends; I learned how to accept help from others. I started to understand that making myself and my needs a priority is not selfish, but healthy and absolutely necessary. I discovered that, despite my fears, I want to be a mother, something I questioned before my pregnancy. I overcame incredible odds to complete my thesis, and in doing so, I connected with students on a new level and learned important lessons from them. I recognized at least some of the strength I hold within myself. I am not weak. I am strong. I am capable. I am human. I am loved.
These are the important and beautiful things that resulted from the arduous and distressing circumstances over the last four months. With the unwavering support of my husband, my family, my work family, and my friends, I persevered. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fun either, but it was real, and it was meaningful, and it was mine.
I’ve reached the point where this post is degenerating into my own stream-of-consciousness, moving away from something purposeful and organized into something much more reflective, introspective, and repetitive. The kind of thing that ought to be stopped here, because it’s reached the point of being real-enough without getting tedious (or should it be too tedious? Am I already past that point?). Nevertheless, here’s the part where I conclude this reflection. Next up is a post on “resetting,” my focus for the month of June. Stay tuned, and thanks for sticking with me this long.
As always, grateful for your attention and comments,