As a community of women we believe in sharing stories that may make people feel seen and heard. So we share this story in hope that it falls in the lap of someone who needs it. Maybe you yourself have experienced challenges in fertility, have had to terminate your pregnancy or had a miscarriage, or stillbirth. Maybe you have a friend that is going or has gone through this pain. Either way, we know when we share stories it often helps others and ourselves expand our compassion. Written by Melissa, Founder and president of She.is.beautiful.
For me, having a sister 17 months older than me was the greatest gift of my childhood (life, maybe?!). We have done so many things and shared so many moments along side each other. We have many differences, but share lots of similarities including an extra bone in both of our pinkies #funfact.
So when my sister Sara told me she was pregnant when I was 7 months pregnant it was as if the universe was aligning our future just as we’d hoped. Until it didn’t. Well, it did but just differently than we originally imagined. But that’s the courage mustard up when sharing something so exciting and fragile; knowing that you are also strong enough if it comes crashing down.
So when I picked up my phone in the middle of a work day to hear Sara crying in a doctors office San Francisco, I knew this wasn’t good news. At 14 weeks along she learned she would have to terminate her pregnancy. The world felt like it stopped. 100% frozen. Sara has shared how she has moved through grief over the years in a past blog here.
Watching my sister experience this painful loss was something I’ll never forget. The compassion in which she emerged from this experience with is something I’m not sure you can fully express unless you have personally been through a miscarriage, still birth, or challenges with fertility. When you hear your normally-optimistic-sister share that she wasn’t sure if she would ever feel like herself again, it feels like the world is actually crumbling. Like when someone who told you your entire life that “anything is possible!” could no longer see the light at the end of this, I felt as if the world may actually go dark. In the moment it felt like nothing could be more true. I had never personally experienced a loss that deep before. And there I sat with my big belly weeks from giving birth to my first child, trying my best to hold space and figure out a way I could fix the situation.
It turns out, the world doesn’t need fixers. It needs people to be there, steady and true. People to let them walk their path of pain knowing you’re there with your hands up for them.
This experience and numerous conversations with women with different stories surrounding the idea of motherhood and pregnancy has changed the way I approach the subject. As all women have different experiences around wanting children or trying to conceive children or surrendering to the idea that they can’t have children, you never know someone’s story. Honor that. Honor them. Honor yourself.
While Sara has gone on to have 2 healthy babies of her own, I know this ending isn’t true for many. As we move towards Mother’s Day we hope all the mom’s enjoy their much deserved spoiling and relaxing (can this happen with shelter-in-place orders? I’m challenging my family to it ;) ).
If you have room in your heart, let’s not forget the women who surround us all who have that stories or pain or heartbreak during this day.
Much love to you all, exactly as you are. You are enough. I’ll leave you with this beautiful quote from Glennon Doyle of Love Warrior
“There on the floor, I promise myself that I’ll be that kind of mother, that kind of friend. I’ll show up and stand humble in the face of a loved one’s pain. I’ll admit I’m as empty-handed, dumbstruck, and out of ideas as she is. I won’t try to make sense of things or require more than she can offer. I won’t let my discomfort with her pain keep me from witnessing it for her. I’l never try to grab or fix her pain, because I know that for as long as it takes, he pain will also be her comfort. It will be all she has left. Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I loved well. Here is my proof that I paid the price. So I’ll just show up and sit quietly and practice not being God with her. I’m so sorry, I’ll say. Thank you for trusting me enough to invite me close. I see your pain and it’s real. I’m so sorry.”