Donate a Post – It’s Hard to Grieve Alone – by Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha


August 8, 2013 by Katia

This has been such a great week for IAMTHEMILK in terms of collaborations. Yesterday I was featured on one of my favourite blogs and one of Babble’s Best of Blogs, the hilarious and inspiring Finding Ninee.

Today I’m participating in a wonderful initiative. August (Av) is the month of love in Judaism. Whitney of Jewhungry approached me with an initiative I fell in love with right away. Whit writes a food blog with mouth watering recipes and photos. She is doing a series dedicated to love stories told through food. Turns out we were both married and had children born in August. My post goes up later on today.

I am proud to feature Sarah Rudell of Left Brain Buddha on Donate a Post today. If you haven’t read her blog you must. Sarah is a true original. A history teacher, a mommy, a fountain of knowledge, a lover of buddha who would choose to have dinner with him and Voltaire if she was given a choice. I’ve met Sarah at BlogHer and was thrilled to find out she would collaborate with me.


I discovered I was pregnant for the first time in a beautiful luxury hotel in Florence, Italy.

I’ve always thought it fitting that I learned such wonderful news in what I consider the most beautiful city in the world.
I had travelled to Italy with my parents and sister several days before, and my husband would be joining us at the end of the week.
Visiting Florence provided a great distraction as I endured the Two Week Wait {which trying-to-conceivers know is the time we need to wait before we can take a pregnancy test. Technically, I only waited 10 days. But I just had this feeling… And, for some levity, I feel I need to insert a joke in here about hoping Aunt Flo didn’t show up in Florence….}
Early that morning, I snuck into the bathroom before my sister woke up to take the pregnancy test. My husband and I had not told anyone that we were planning to start a family. We wanted the announcement to be a surprise.
I stared at the test stick, and slowly saw that lovely second pink line, the one I had been hoping to see for months of testing, clearly appear, and continue to darken.
I was pregnant! {And the, ahem, 5 other pregnancy tests I had brought along on my trip further confirmed the news each morning, with increasingly beautiful and progressively deepening colors of pink.}
I called my husband, not caring that it was the middle of the night back home, and told him the news. We were thrilled.
I spent a few more days in Italy with my family, and my secret. I was radiant. The excitement and rush of taking this momentous new step in my life mirrored the exhilaration, nervousness, and butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings of my first kiss.
I finally reunited with my husband at the Santa Maria Novella train station, and we enjoyed a few more days of the news being totally our own.
We told my family the exciting news a few days later, over a wonderful dinner outside the Tuscan town of Greve-in-Chianti. The joyous celebration and cheers prompted our waitress to run over, asking, “Did someone get engaged, or is someone having a baby?” She took this photograph of our family. I still love looking at this picture ~ the joy, the excitement, the anticipation. The innocence.
We spent a week in Italy, and although I did miss out on some great wine tastings and had to endure morning sickness, we had a fantastic, grown-up family vacation. We knew all the superstitions about not buying gifts for the baby during the first trimester, but we couldn’t pass up the cute “Ciao, Baby!” t-shirts, or the adorable Pinocchio nursery artwork in San Gimignano.
My husband then stayed on in Europe for another month, as he was enrolled in a doctoral program in England at the time, and I returned home.
I spent my weeks at home by myself enjoying my pregnancy.
Except for the morning of intense stress when I learned of the London 2005 bombings on CNN. I frantically checked our London maps to locate my husband’s hotel, the tube stations he was near, and worried and fretted until I finally heard from my husband a few hours later. He had actually tried to get on the London tube about an hour after the bombings occurred {not having heard the news} only to find the station closed. I was relieved, but even writing this post brings back the fear and anxiety of that morning.
Crisis subsiding, I bought all the pregnancy and mothering books I could. I started keeping a pregnancy journal. Every new pregnancy symptom brought excitement and relief. Nausea? Awesome. Are my boobs still sore? Great!
And then one morning, a little over 7 weeks pregnant, my husband still out of town, I woke up crying. I just didn’t feel pregnant anymore. To my horror, my boobs were no longer sore. I reminded myself that the books said symptoms can vary, and tried to forget about it.
And then a day later, the spotting started.
In horror, I called my doctor, and she said I could come in right away.
I laid on the exam table, and as she performed the ultrasound, she pointed out, very clinically, that she could see the endometrial lining collapsing.
“And that’s bad?” I asked, though I knew the answer.
“That’s bad,” she replied.
There was no heartbeat. My pregnancy would end.
She told me the spotting was the start of my miscarriage, and soon I would begin bleeding heavily. And I’m sure she told me more but I don’t remember any of it.
I held it together until my cell phone rang as I hurried to my car. It was my husband, calling from London.
I burst into tears, and told him the news.
I was wracked with guilt. Was it because of the one tiny sip of limoncello on our first night in Italy, before I knew I was pregnant? The travel, or changes in air pressure during my transAtlantic flights? The stress of the day of the London bombings?
I don’t even believe in “signs,” but I wondered, was this a sign that I wasn’t ready to be a mom?
Making it even harder was that, besides my family, no one else had known I was pregnant.
And now I would go through a miscarriage with my husband an ocean away.
I discovered that this not-telling-anyone is such a hard part of the grief of early miscarriage. It happens to so many women {one in three, by some estimates}, yet we don’t often share these stories because it’s hard to just blurt out to someone who didn’t even know you were pregnant, “I’m having a miscarriage.”
Though I did want to tell the annoying teenage checkout clerk at the grocery store. The day after my dreadful doctor’s appointment, I went out to buy the most sugary, fattening, and unhealthy foods I possibly could, the food I had denied myself for a month, as some consolation. Upon seeing my ironically celebratory-looking purchase of nachos, ice cream, cookies, and cupcakes, he asked, “Exciting plans tonight? Are you having a party?”
I don’t know how I didn’t cry. I think I mumbled something like, “Nope, just really hungry,” though I wanted to say, “Actually, I am going to go home, by myself, because my husband is across the Atlantic, and wait to have a miscarriage, so I figured I would stuff my face with shitty food to console myself. Wanna come over?”
I know he was just being friendly. But it pissed me off.
And then there was the time I did just blurt out what was happening, and that didn’t feel good either.
I had a dentist appointment about two days later. I was still spotting, but the actual miscarriage hadn’t happened yet. As I sat in the dentist’s chair, they asked me to complete the annual update of my medical information.
One of the first questions: “Are you pregnant?”
I managed to hold it together again. I said, “I don’t know how to answer this. I’m technically pregnant, but I am waiting to miscarry.”
The hygienist gave me a strange look, so I had to explain it again.
“Just say you’re not pregnant,” she said.
It was the most awkwardly silent dental hygiene appointment of my life.
And it was even hard to talk about it with my husband. For a time, I resented him for not being there to experience the miscarriage with me.
When the miscarriage did begin, it was terrible, and terrifying. It was incredibly painful. It was nasty and bloody. The combination of emotional hurt and physical pain as miscarriage occurred in its full bodily incarnation overwhelmed me.
And by the time my husband came home a week later, it was over. He hugged me and held me, but he hadn’t been there as the body-that-was-now-clean-and-recovered had endured what felt like trauma. Though we spoke at length every day, it wasn’t the same as having him with me. {I am eternally grateful that my parents were close by, and took great care of me.}
But it was hard not sharing my loss, our loss, with my husband.
It’s so hard to talk about miscarriage.
Even now, it’s hard for me to talk about it. Sometimes I feel like, since my miscarriage was early in my pregnancy, at about 8 weeks, it “doesn’t count.” I know many women who have suffered late-pregnancy loss and stillbirth, and I feel that my grief should pale in comparison.
But it’s such a crazy thing to try to create a “ranking” for grief, some kind of strange calculus that factors in the number of weeks pregnant, the months of trying to conceive, the weeks of actually knowing of the pregnancy, whether your husband was in town when the miscarriage happened, or how many people knew about it. Loss is loss. Grief is grief.
I know we don’t want to broadcast our pregnancies to the world in those early weeks. With my subsequent pregnancies {which were filled with anxiety, but produced my two beautiful children}, we also waited to tell people.
But we shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to share our losses when they happen. It’s hard to grieve alone.
Sarah Rudell Beach is a teacher, wife, and a mother to two energetic little ones. At Left Brain Buddha she explores ideas and practices for mindfulness, and shares the challenges and riches in her journey to live and parent mindfully in a left-brain, analytical life. She encourages her readers to discover the amazing transformations that can occur when we not only indulge, but learn to tame, our monkey minds. 

18 thoughts on “Donate a Post – It’s Hard to Grieve Alone – by Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha

  1. Lizzi Rogers says:

    Sarah, you are totally incredible for writing and sharing this. Such profound pain, written so eloquently and beautifully, and you’re absolutely right – it is TOO hard to grieve alone, and thank God for people like Katia and this series and bringing this issue into the sunshine for some demystifying.

    I wish I could give you a massive hug, but as I can’t, let me tell you this, for real: your pregnancy, your loss, counts. it counts, it *so* counts.

  2. Oh, Sarah. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this experience with us. Those words DO help others who have experienced it, or who may be going through it right now. I can relate to so many of your feelings- a few of my losses were even earlier than that, and the grief is still very real, even just a few weeks into pregnancy. For me, the encompassing fear and anxiety that something was wrong with my body or I would never get pregnant again were as much a part of the grief as the loss of pregnancy itself. Beautiful post. xo

    • Oh Stephanie, I’m so sorry that you’ve had multiple losses. I’ve had friends who were 4 or 5 weeks, and the miscarriage was so painful because of how much time they’d waited to be pregnant, and, as you write, the worry about if it meant something was wrong with them, not just the baby…

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this rawness. Although I’ve never experienced it, I’ve talked to friends and family who have. It’s such an intensely personal experience, but also one that makes other people — who don’t know what to say or do to be a grief — not sure how to respond. And that’s how it is with all kinds of grief The feelings are so real and sometimes those feelings can be even more difficult when we’re made to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

    • Jessica – it is so hard to know how to respond, and I think that’s also why we hide it, because then we feel guilty for making the other person feel so awkward and helpless. Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Sarah,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I miscarried at 13 weeks and also felt like it didn’t “count” but you’re right – the grief is grief no matter the fact that others experience loss that seems worse. Their losses being more “real” don’t have anything to do with the pain of our own experiences, nor do they make them easier. I’m so sorry that you went through this, alone, while your husband was so far away. Hugs, friend.
    And Katia – another great contribution. This series is amazing.
    PS when I was pregnant with Tucker, we didn’t tell anybody for almost 6 months (I wasn’t really showing much).

  5. […] This has been such a great week for IAMTHEMILK in terms of collaborations. Yesterday I was featured on one of my favourite blogs and one of Babble’s Best of Blogs, the hilarious and inspiring Finding Ninee.  […]

  6. You women inspire me in so many ways every day. Your courage and your willingness to come together to create a community and bring a voice to a subject that is considered “taboo” is awe-inspiring. I am glad to be able to associate with all of you from Katia, to Lizzi, to Kristi , to Sarah.

    • Katia says:

      What a great comment! Thank you so much, Shanique. You know the first time I’ve mentioned my own miscarriage it was in a post shortly after I started blogging and it felt like I was putting something very significant out there and with the exception of a few kind friends it kind of fell into a void. The fact that I get comments like yours, is one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve had with this blog.

    • Lizzi Rogers says:

      It’s all about bringing some light on a challenging subject and trying to get it to a point where women no longer feel isolated when they go through it. That’s my ‘soapbox’ vantage point anyways, and it really helps that there are awesomerockin people like Katia and Kristi with these series (Donate a post and Our Land) to try to combat the level of taboo and unfamiliarity with the subject.

      And so, so many awesome women prepared to become vulnerable in words, and share their story. It all counts, just as those losses count, and we, as the legacy of the children we lost, can be proud (if sad) to be part of it.

  7. It’s excruciating to hear that you had to go through the experience of miscarriage alone, Sarah. I am so sorry.

  8. […] Donate a Post – It’s Hard to Grieve Alone – by Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Bu… ( […]

  9. […] first pregnancy ended in miscarriage over eight years ago. Yet I still remember the deep sadness, my heartbreak compounded by the fact […]

  10. […] Donate a Post – It’s Hard to Grieve Alone – by Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Bu… […]

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