The realization came swiftly this morning as I glanced at the calendar on the side of my fridge while in the middle of feeding my four boys breakfast: August 24.
Today was my due date for the baby we lost 3 years ago: Izzy. You never forget your due date, do you?
In previous years, this day has brought tears and mourning, even depressive episodes in the days leading up to the due date.
But this year, I feel contemplative, my mind circling back, remembering all the days and all the ways my miscarriage has changed my life.
Grief has a way of rearranging your soul, like a tornado sweeping through and leaving you stunned, sitting among the pieces of emotional wreckage, asking yourself “And where do I go from here?”
I don’t know if miscarriage is like this for everyone; every woman is different. But because I joined this Club (the one no one wants to join), I’ve developed new listening skills, the ability to weep with those who weep.
But I learned that I didn’t always say the right thing, like the one time I told a new friend, “Well, I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again soon.”
She looked at me with wise, sad eyes. “I have no guarantee.” And it was true. Her miscarriage was many years ago and she has never been able to get pregnant again.
I felt ashamed at my assumptions, but through that conversation I learned that sometimes it is better to just listen, to say, “I’m so sorry. That’s really hard,” rather than rely on clichés to give shallow comfort.
My miscarriage gave me the gift of greater compassion for women who are suffering, and not just for women who have lost a baby.
My eyes were also opened to the suffering of women who experience infertility. I had no idea the heartbreaking journey many women go through in their journey to become mothers. But my own grief enlarged my ability to sympathize with those going through this private agony, even though I have never been in their shoes.
I also blogged very candidly about my miscarriage and the spiritual struggles I experienced. I had never written so openly about my inner life before, but the support and comfort I received as a result was life changing.
Even more so, I realized my story was able to comfort others who were walking this same path. So many women wrote me private message and emails, telling me their stories and letting me know that reading mine blog posts brought them comfort.
Later, the bravery birthed by blogging about my miscarriage helped me to write about my son’s learning disabilities, his Autism diagnosis, ADHD, and my struggles to adjust my expectations about motherhood, which looked so radically different than what I thought my life would look like.
The Mothering Beyond Expectations Collective Blog was born. Since October 2016, by collecting and sharing stories of women who are mothering beyond their expectations, this website has been viewed more than 50,000 from readers around the world.
I am so humbled and honored to share these stories every week, to see people respond, to hear them say “me too” and realize they are not alone in their struggles.
It is a gift that brings me great joy and purpose.
Sometimes I think, “What if…if I could trade it all to have that baby in my arms, would I?”
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
As humans we are constantly evaluating, trying to pinpoint the Life Changing Events, the ones that we stop and say, “You know, if this had never happened…”
My miscarriage was one of those Life Changing Events.
When I looked around my table this morning, I felt the ache of my missing child, the one I will never know on this side of heaven. Yet I know that if Izzy had been born, Eli would not be here.
It was never what I expected.
I often think of these lines from the musical Wicked:
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
“Good” in this song has a double meaning: First, it means permanently: I have been changed forever.
But it also means, for good: I am a better person because you were a part of my life.
Looking back over these last three years, I see so many ways my miscarriage has brought goodness into my life and into the lives of others.
Before I knew what the outcome would be, I prayed for the baby to live. When I knew that Izzy was gone, I prayed that God show me why this happened and to bring purpose to my life through this grief.
I was only Izzy’s mom for a few short weeks and her presence brought me so much joy and hope during that time. She is gone now, but by sharing our story, and all the other stories that were born out of that bravery, I hope that I can bring joy and hope to others.
Have I been changed for the better?
I don’t know.
But I do know that I have been changed for good.