Why Do I Feel Shame?

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*Please note that this post contains a very honest and emotional account of miscarriage. 

The Weight of Shame

As women, we can often feel shame for things which aren’t within our control. This post is very personal, but through my experience I’ve decided if one woman can feel less ashamed, less unworthy, less a failure by nature and more like the child of God that she is then it is worth it.

When I first began writing this, my husband and I had been trying to conceive a child for over a year. We monitored, we charted, we prayed, and I took my basal body temperature every morning. I read blogs, books, and medical advice. We also tried the good ‘ole “not trying.” We knew I may not be able to conceive, but that wasn’t going to render us hopeless. 

I’d love to say “not trying” worked for us, as it does for many. But when I did finally become pregnant it was from detailed tracking, monitoring, and temperature taking. There was little romance about the situation, but in the end it worked. 

A Burst of Hope

In August 2016, we finally saw two little pink lines on the pregnancy test…and two lines on each and every one of the 12 to 15 tests I took thereafter. 

I finally felt like a true woman. My body could conceive a child. 

But now I keep rereading that statement, as I’m clenching my fist and bracing myself as another painful contraction leaves me dizzy. It is 2.5 months later. My newfound reality is shattered. I’m having a miscarriage. 

Love and Loss

The discovery came from an ultrasound. The doctor didn’t need to tell me, the deafening silence said it all as she stared blankly at the screen. The last picture of my baby.

My body had no idea. I was still sick 8 hrs a day, and I could smell better than a drug sniffing dog. But the ultrasound showed the baby had stopped growing and there was no heartbeat. Our baby had died. Those words hurt more than any contraction could. 

I was sent directly to the lab for blood work. I remained in a silent shock until the phlebotomist asked “do you know why your blood is being drawn?” Breaking down into hysterical sobs I responded, “They think my baby died in utero.” 

Permission to Grieve

Once the tears started I couldn’t stop them. I still felt pregnant, how could this be? I texted my sister immediately. I needed someone to tell me I could grieve. I needed someone to tell me it was okay to mourn. Looking back now I realize how ridiculous it was to feel I needed permission. 

The truth is, many people don’t even believe there was truly a human being inside me. Others, I feared, might believe since I never met my child, how could it be that bad? Some even said (at the hospital mind you)  “you’re young enough to have more!” Did that mean I shouldn’t be so upset? I didn’t know how I was allowed to feel. Allowed. That word, along with “permission” made me feel trapped. 

Empty Words

I waited quite a while to finish this post. I started writing it in the emergency room where I was sent due to possible complications. Perhaps the morphine dulled my emotions enough to write, but once it wore off I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, to explain how I felt. 

A few months later I told my husband I was so sad from the lack of conversation and expression surrounding miscarriage. Women tend to feel trapped and afraid to reach out for help. They may not even be told it’s okay to grieve. Families lose their preborn children regularly, yet we put ourselves into silent mourning. 

We don’t want to hear “You can have more!” or “it probably had a severe defect and this was for the best” or “Don’t worry, this will pass.” 

I love my baby. I will always love my baby. I may have never held them in my arms, but my body nurtured and helped them grow. It wasn’t my fault he died (we named him Gerard)…it was no one’s fault. I shouldn’t feel shame. I don’t want to be afraid to mourn, or worry I may upset someone else from my own pain. I lost my baby. Whether they have met the child or not, I would never wish a parent to feel the loss of their baby. But it happens, and with miscarriages there is too much silence.

We Need to Talk

I endured my second miscarriage mere months after my first. My second child is the reason I chose to open up about the loss of these precious babies. I refuse to feel as though I failed somehow, that I am somehow less of a woman for having not one, but two miscarriages. I am a complete woman no matter my ability to carry a baby to term. I am a complete woman even if I could never have children of my own. I will not feel ashamed, or feel I failed my family or myself. I will continue on knowing this is God’s will.

We all mourn differently. I still mourn the loss of my first, and now my second. I cry randomly, and I sometimes wonder what could have been. The difference between when I first experienced the pain of loss and now is I finally talk about it. I’m a talker, and I need to vent my fears, frustrations, and even anger. I am blessed to have a group of women who have shared their own experiences with me. While I knew I was far from alone, with this community I now FEEL less alone in my loss. 

To all women who have lost a child, in any way, you aren’t alone. You haven’t failed. You are free to mourn in any way you need. 

I won’t tell you it’s okay, because it’s not. But I will tell you that you are brave and strong, and you now have a little one in heaven forever looking after you and your family. You are never alone. Your child/children are at peace in God’s arms, and the first place to heal is putting yourself in that same place. 

Copyright 2020 Carly Jude Mahoney

Carly Jude Mahoney is married to Joe Mahoney and the mother to Birdie (Bernadette) and bonus daughter, Ryleigh. Carly has spent her entire career life working in Non-profit, both for the Catholic Church and the American Heart Association. While her primary vocation is as a wife and mother, she still enjoys assisting non-profits in any way possible. Carly is described as a book worm, a painter, a lover of research and facts, and extremely outgoing. She has a deep love for the Holy Spirit, the holy souls in Purgatory and the Traditional Latin Mass. Her short term goal is to one day gain the title of "That weird Mom" and her long term goal is to help her family into Heaven. Carly originally hails from New Jersey but now resides in rural Northeast Iowa.

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