Sydney McCall Patel
Pregnancy and Loss in COVID-19
Updated: Feb 17
...learning to trust my miscarriage
by Sydney McCall Patel, Marriage and Family Therapist, Marin County, California
Pregnant during COVID.
First ultrasound at 10.5 weeks due to quarantine.
Alone in a dreary room surrounded by eyes trying to be kind behind masks.
Husband waiting with 2 year old son scooting outside.
“I don’t see anything,” I hear the doctor say.
My heart clenches, my belly sickens, tears start to flood.
I wish my husband were here.
“An empty sac.”
I call him.
“There’s no baby.”
When I come out we hug.
Tentatively through the tears we laugh.
“This whole time, there was no baby in there.”
Our son had named it Ocean.
The optics are strange. I hold a glass of red wine and take a really hot bath with my big empty belly. The sadness moves through me. I try to make room for it. Not jump over it like part of me is desperate to do. I feel new dimensions of grief moving inside. I slowly drop onto sturdier ground, a ground that flows more like a river. I notice there is a peace and calm that pervades this loss. It was with me even when I heard the word, “empty”.
Chromosomal abnormalities like this are the most common form of miscarriages. I’m comforted by how connected I am with so many women in this. I feel a warmth move through my body when I open my imagination to all the women grieving with me. I imagine the billions of wombs that have miraculously grown healthy babies and the wombs that have known how to dispose of the ones that aren’t. I experience awe for this body, for all maternal bodies.
I ponder the strangeness of how taboo even the word miscarriage has become. How long has it been this way? My father said my grandmother had to carry a dead baby inside for two months. He never saw her cry. She died at 53. How much pain did she have to hold alone? My heart opens to her, I feel her more than ever as I fight my own waves of shame writing this. Our shared embarrassment runs deep, but not as deep as my newly discovered determination to speak of the pain we are shamed to even express. I feel compelled to break this outdated trend of silence for her, for me.
We were carrying such excitement, such forward momentum. Now there are moments of bleakness. This quiet stillness feels dull, lifeless. My mind races to find a solution, then the tears come. My body relaxes. Over the course of this time I’ve become familiar with riding these waves of sadness. The waves crash to honor the months of hormones and pregnancy tissue produced, to honor the love, energy and dreams we have been holding. I say goodbye to our Ocean. I feel a newfound tranquility carrying me, one that is perhaps deeper, sadder, calmer than any I have known. I remember that to risk loving is to risk grieving, and the more I allow myself to grieve the bigger and more capable my tender heart becomes.