Laying in my king size bed, with my back turned toward the door, and a pillow over my head, I focused on trying to release. Release emotions, release shame, and release the fetus that just 12 hours before, I had been told was dead inside of my body for the last 4-5 weeks. I had yet to cry.
Just be tough like you know you are, Jade.
I wrapped my arms around myself in a hug, and promised to forgive myself. In that moment, I realized that even though the last 12 weeks of my life had been the most painful time in my life- I hadn’t actually felt it. I had held it all in. I had told no one. I had gone numb.
Not being able to feel after trauma reminds me of a bomb being detonated. When you can’t hear anything but the ringing in your own ears. Well, for weeks after trauma, sometimes months… you can’t feel anything but the low hum of shock and disbelief.
I felt very strongly that I knew what and who caused my miscarriage, but it was easier to blame my body’s failure and refusal to release this dead fetus on everything that’s wrong with me, and everything that I’ve done wrong… Because I am a woman, and I am emotional, and I am crazy, and I wasn’t enough.
Just like every other woman on this planet, I was riddled with self-blame. It didn’t matter what anyone else did to me, or how angry I got at them, at the end of the day, when I’ve peeled back all the layers of the onion, the result is always the same: I had always believed that it was ultimately my fault. I had messed up somewhere along the lines, because I was dumb, or selfish, or weak, or broken, or worse… all of the above.
But laying there in bed, waiting for my dead baby to decide it was time to leave my body, I felt hot, burning rage overcome me. The kind of rage that propels you forward. The kind of rage that says THIS is NOT how the story ends. I am a warrior, a survivor… not a victim. Like every other time I’ve faced struggle, I once again promised myself that one day, when I was healed, I would use my struggle to help others. I always make that promise to myself. Spin your struggles into gold.
Two days later, while sitting on the couch in my cloud of shame and misery, I felt a ‘pop’, and a large gush. As I hurried to the bathroom, I left a shocking trail of blood. There was So. Much. Blood. My pants and underwear were ruined. I didn’t even want to try and wash them. Just get rid of them.
Within seconds, the toilet was full of blood, and the pain felt exactly like the labour pains I remembered from my two healthy pregnancies. It wasn’t as intense, but it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park.
I quickly remembered how comforting a warm tub of water had been while I was in labor, and so I asked my partner to fill the tub. I climbed in while the water was still running, leaving a trail of blood from the toilet to the bathtub, and within minutes, the water in the tub was completely full of blood. The bottom of the tub was no longer visible.
The sight of the tub was shocking. How much blood does one uterus have in it, anyway? To this day the most terrifying part was the amount of blood. I looked like a homicide crime scene.
I drained the tub, and refilled it a second time.
My emotions in that moment were absolutely everywhere. They were incomprehensible. It felt like there was a game of computer pong happening between my head and my heart. I wanted to blame myself and yet blame him…. but, I also didn’t want to blame anyone. I just wanted to understand why this was happening to me. Why me?
The pain worsened, and then I passed clots. The clots were so big that I thought the fetus must be inside of them. I fished one clot so large out, that I shrieked and wailed. I gasped for air. I was sure it was pieces of my baby. I cried so hard over the loss of the child I thought was going to to fix my broken heart, I remember all of the muscles in my body tensing up with contractions and so much emotional pain, it was like my entire body was screaming.
It felt like birthing anger, hatred, and rage. It was the birth of a woman scorned. The birth of a women who was now filled with absolute, pure hatred for the people who had caused the stress that led to my miscarriage.
I suddenly had the urge to gag and throw up. I had to remind myself to inhale.
Yes, breathe. Just breathe. You’re going to be okay.
As I focused on my breathing, I let the clot slip through my fingers and back into the water. I continued to cry harder than I had ever cried in my entire life. I cried for the loss of my baby, and the loss of my relationship as I had known it. I cried because I had never, in my entire life, felt so alone…
I was ashamed of myself for crying. I was angry at myself for not being stronger. I should be tough enough to handle this. I am not the woman who gets destroyed by her miscarriage. That can not be Jade Malone’s story.
But, I had no control. I was very, very broken in that moment. I cried until I couldn’t cry any more. Then, when the crying and wailing finally started to ease up, and my breathing started to return to normal, is when it happened.
The next contraction hit, and suddenly, I felt something large pass… with almost no pain at the site, and more like a feeling of a bubble leaving the birth canal, a strange sense of peace washed over me. I looked down in the water, and I realized that the entire amniotic sac, still intact, had just floated up to the top of the water level.
I scooped up the sac, and with total shock and amazement, I stared at the tiny fetus, through the only clear spot in the sac. I could see my tiny, tiny baby. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to hold my baby in the palm of my hands. Protected by the bubble, and at total rest. No pain for my baby.
With it’s tiny fused fingers and toes, and it’s black, marble eyes, I stared at the baby who never got to be. The baby I had let down. The baby I didn’t deserve, because in my mind, I hadn’t been a good enough wife. I hadn’t gotten the dishes done enough, and I hadn’t gotten enough meals on the table, I hadn’t taken care of my body well enough. I had failed at everything, and this was my punishment.
The tears had completely stopped. The urge to gag was gone. Instead, I was filled with a protective, motherly love for my child. An overwhelming sense of calm and focus. A gratitude for not having to bring a baby into a relationship that was doomed to fail.
Under no circumstances was this amniotic sac with my lego-sized baby inside going down the bathtub drain or being flushed down the toilet, so I asked my partner to get a mason jar from the kitchen. I gently rolled the sac inside, put the lid on, drained the tub, and started to get out.
When I stood is when I realized that I wasn’t okay. I got myself back to the toilet, blood still dripping everywhere, and when I sat back down is when I started passing out.
I had never passed out before, I didn’t know what it felt like. I wasn’t even sure what was happening. All I knew was that as the bathtub drained, so did I. My eyes refused to stay open, and I knew my face would hit the floor if I didn’t say something.
I must have managed to squeak out the word “help” or something, because when I woke up, I had been gently and lovingly laid on the bathroom mat, a towel was covering my naked lower half, and the ambulance was on its way.
After spending the night in the hospital and a few days sleeping it off, I faced deciding what to do with the mason jar. The decision was reached to bury it behind the house. A strange part of me needed to keep my baby close. Secretly, I named him Graydon. My intuition told me it would have been a boy.
Now that I’ve moved, it still pains me to know my baby isn’t close to me anymore. I still wish I could go back to check on him.
The days and weeks and months that followed were hollow. I was not human, because humans have feelings, and I did not feel. The only times I felt were when I was forced to feel. When I was approached in the grocery store by people who hadn’t heard the news. It was painful, but brief. I shook it off.
I started a photo project called “Fearless Moms”, that focused on everyone else’s pain. Everyone else’s miscarriages and losses.
It would be four years later before I felt again.
In the bathroom again, on the floor, 4 years later, I curled up and hugged myself, and once again I wailed. I cried so hard I squeezed my eyelids shut, unsure if they would open again. This much emotional pain surely meant death. And it did. It meant the death of my refusal to feel. It meant I would no longer keep hiding my emotions. It was the death of the old Jade. It meant admitting to myself I couldn’t blame myself or even others forever, and that at the end of the day, it was a cocktail of things that led to my body’s refusal to carry my pregnancy to term. Nobody was completely to blame. Sometimes, it just happens.
This was the release my body, my heart, and my soul needed. Four years later, on the same bathroom floor where my body forced me to say goodbye to my baby, my physical body tensed with what can only be described as emotional contractions. I finally grieved my loss.
I finally felt the hurt.
Not the anger, not the guilt, not the shame, and not even the blame anymore…. just the hurt. The hurt that I had held so deep inside of my body that it had caused physical ailments, like grinding my teeth, migraine headaches and cystic acne. I finally, finally let it go.
When my heart and mind began to heal, so did my body.
Looking back, I now realize that my miscarriage was awful, and I will never be thankful for it happening, nor for the circumstances that enveloped that miscarriage.. but I WILL be thankful for the lessons I learned about feeling pain in order to move on. You have to feel it in order to heal it.
And this is when I learned what it meant to be a woman. Women are born to feel. We are emotional by nature, and it has never, EVER been our weakness. It has always been our strength, our super power. Self-medicating or denying yourself your right to feel, under the false belief that we need to be tougher, stronger, and more like men, is what ultimately will make us sick. Emotionally and physically.
Cry your god damn face off. Scream your god damn lungs out.
Do whatever the hell you need to do in order to HEAL.