This post has been submitted to Mothering’s “Blog about Breastfeeding” event (http://www.mothering.com/community/a/blog-about-breastfeeding-and-win). Follow the link to read other entries, or post about your own experience breastfeeding. Look at the comments on this post for the event guidelines.
When my firstborn was just shy of her first birthday, my husband and I started working on getting pregnant again. I don’t think there was ever a formal discussion about it; we just knew that our family needed another smiling face. The fertile plains produced a pregnancy in record time, and we were on that journey once again.
The nausea kicked in and my body gave me signs that things were progressing. I couldn’t stand the smell of cooking oil and my emotions were running wild. I felt anxious and irritated breastfeeding my daughter as she tugged at my body and clumsily bit at my nipples. When would this phase pass?
Life went on. We visited farmers markets and went on family camping trips. After one such trip, I threw our sleeping bag in the washer. I packed up my diaper bag and my daughter and left to jaunt around town, picking up my husband on the way home. Upon returning home, I went downstairs to check the laundry. Before I’d reached the bottom of the stairs I could hear a hissing sound. It took a moment to register what I was seeing – puddled water everywhere. Everywhere. The laundry machine malfunctioned and had been filling up the drum since I’d left. My husband who is ultra-aware during emergencies melted, so I went downstairs and flipped off all the breakers. I called our landlords, and then he took over as I distracted our daughter from the chaos.
After numerous calls, our insurance company okayed a hotel stay. We moved across town to the (aptly named) Watertown Hotel. It was going to be a beautiful temporary home until remediation specialists could handle the house damage. Amidst it all, I had solace in my pregnancy. Creation balanced the destruction. I hit the hotel’s free breakfast twice without guilt in the morning and pushed my stroller around the busy streets during the day.
Two days in, I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. I sat down on the toilet and saw that I’d been spotting. I searched online for any explanation other than the one I most feared – that I was losing this pregnancy. Further heavy spotting and an emergency visit to my midwife confirmed that I was no longer pregnant. Inside and out, I fell into a deep slump.
I didn’t want to talk about my miscarriage except when the pain bubbled up, and I would try to rationalize as to why this had happened to me. I wanted to remain private about it so I could mourn on my own. Slowly, I opened up to my Mom and my sister-in-law. But there were no answers at the end of these conversations as to why this happened to me. The only thing I felt certain of was that I’d found a weak link in my body.
One month after the miscarriage, my husband, daughter, and I flew to Hawaii to attend our close friends’ wedding. We planned to do a new hike each morning with our little one strapped to my back. I delighted every time a hiker coming down the path marveled at me climbing up with a passenger. With each step to the summit, I grew stronger. I bit into a honey mango as the tropical rains moved across the valleys to the ridge where I stood. I dipped my toes in mountain waterfalls. I breathed in the sweet heavy air.
On one such hike, the three of us faced a steady stream of fellow voyagers on the way to the top. The terrain was steep and the air was humid; we were already talking about our rest once we reached our vista (sure that we’d be sharing it with a dozen others.) When we reached the top, an older couple were preparing their descent. My husband, my daughter, and I were alone in this fertile refuge. A waterfall stirred up mist keeping the surrounding plants lush and green. Birds flew from one side of the cliffs to the other.
I loosened the straps of my carrier and held my daughter close to my chest. She needed nourishment. I needed to honor this sacred moment. And it all came together for me. Things were moving on. My body was healing, growing stronger. My heart was coming to understand that the death inside was as much a part of the process of reproduction as the trod through a healthy pregnancy to labor and delivery. And here in my arms was a dear child who still needed to be held close and reassured that I would give her the very best I knew how to provide.