I have, for a long time, been a woman who has openly complained about pregnancy.
Pregnancy just never agreed with me. I was never one of those glowing, beautiful women who claims to feel her best in the midst of gestating. Nope, not I. Instead of marveling at the miracle of life, I was hugging a toilet seat, watching in horror as my feet and stomach ballooned to epic proportions, and feeling absolute misery as every ligament in my body stretched to its limit. I just wasn’t someone who loved pregnancy, I told myself, justifying my complaints — the aches, the pains, the heartburn, the weight gain, the stretch marks, the swelling, the tremendous sacrifice of giving up every single piece of yourself for nine months — it’s hard and it’s OK to admit that.
Sure, I knew that logically some women were not able to experience pregnancy and yes, logically, I knew that many women would welcome the morning sickness with open arms. But still, I thought stubbornly, their experience was not mine. Still, I thought, their experience should not negate mine.
So I continued to proclaim my hatred of pregnancy, my loathing for the physical hardships of growing a human being.
I did not understand that my perspective of pregnancy came from a place of ignorance, from a perch of privilege, a perspective that can only be had by those who have not loved and lost.
Because I couldn’t know what it would be like on the other side — until I was there.
I didn’t know what it would be like to climb on the table in the ultrasound room, shaking so much with fear that the midwife would have to place her hand on my leg to steady me.
I didn’t know what it would be like to hold my hands over my face, not daring to look at the screen that held the answer to what I already, deep down, knew all along.
I didn’t know that it would be possible to be brave enough to look, to finally face what I didn’t want to see.
I didn’t know that the motionless screen could hurt me more than anything in my whole life.
I didn’t know what it would be like to cry, when you don’t want to cry anymore, when you are convinced you have cried enough to last a lifetime.
I didn’t know what it would be like after, to try to drive home, to go to the grocery store, to wander through so much life, and feel like you can never, will never, be the same again.
I didn’t know there were so many of us, carrying this secret hurt, this loss that can not be named, the little piece of you that is gone before it had a chance, the hope of what could have been extinguished so quietly.
I didn’t know that looking at that date, the due date that will never come, could hurt so very much, that for the rest of my days I will memorialize the day of April 6th in my head and in my heart.
I didn’t know that I would go for days, for a week, bleeding quietly, that I would tell myself not to, but that I couldn’t help but have the smallest shred of hope that my baby would still be there to the very, very end.
I didn’t know what it was like to dread going into the bathroom, to pray that there wouldn’t be more blood, to watch as life drips from you.
I didn’t know what it would be like to try to pretend everything is OK, even to the husband who created this life with me, because it is not the same for him.
I didn’t know that feeling empty would be so hard.
I didn’t know what it was like, to go from holding a precious secret inside, to getting used to having silent conversations with the little one growing inside of me, to mentally planning and preparing and making way for the person I already loved, to reeling with the knowledge that I am now so very alone.
I didn’t know what it would be like to wake up and hope and pray for morning sickness, to search widely for any symptom to hold on to, for the sore boobs, for the expanding waistline, for anything that would give me a sign that my baby was still with me.
I didn’t know any of it. Until now.
I guess that was the problem all along, that I didn’t understand, that I couldn’t understand. I know that now. And I know that, more than anything, I am sorry that I ever complained about the hard parts of pregnancy. Because I know now that there is something that is even harder.