The Bleeding Red Dress


October 24, 2013 by Katia

One Halloween two years ago I was sad. Not ‘regular sad’ as Four Year Old would put it, but broken and shattered sad. In what was probably a subconscious attempt to fake it until you make it, I’ve decided I may as well look good. Defiantly I put on my bleeding red dress, a short dark wig, a pair of heels and some fake lashes and rode the subway to work as Betty Boop. The only one in costume, hiding two secrets behind it. How I really look and how I really feel. I don’t look this way and I’m eight days into my new old predicament, baby-less once again after eight brief weeks of him and almost a year of trying.

This is what shattered sad beaten looks like.


October 2011

The costume was not the only lie my clothes told that week. I remember everything I wore. The unfathomable dichotomy between inside and out. That dark brown dress that was meant to accommodate an expanding waistline bought so early in the pregnancy expressed optimism, a ‘to hell with caution and superstition, I did not go through all of this to be cautious and superstitious’. I was wearing my optimism dress leaving the fertility clinic that morning carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and a huge question mark in my belly.

Can you see the scarf I’m wearing in that photograph? Accessories are for when everything else is fine, for when the basics are taken care of. I was wearing that floral scarf to a work function just two or three days into my brokenness, when nothing was fine, when the normalcy, future, family bliss rug was pulled from underneath me once again, but in the most painful of ways yet.

I was at the fertility clinic in the OR, surrounded by some other women waiting for their IVF treatments. I was wearing a hospital gown and I must have looked just like them, in their hospital gowns of hope, but I was crying incessantly wearing my mourning and defeat. I was waiting for the doctor to perform my procedure and she was an hour late. I wanted to walk away. Broken things can still break some more, I wonder if she knew.

It was the people around me who pulled me out of it. My boss who told me she was still praying for a miracle, when I knew there wasn’t one in store for me. Maggie and Kareim whom I’ve met briefly through work and who came to the work function not knowing I was drowning and said “we’re here for you”. The caregivers at my son’s home daycare who knew about this, my hurt and shame and expressed their hurt for me.

When your outside and inside don’t match you’ve got to let some of the outside in. I believe in clothes, but even more so in people.


This has been a Finish The Sentence Friday post on the topic “One Halloween I…”. Please check out our terrific hosts:

Stephanie, my soul repica at Mommy, For Real

Kristi, she can make the phone book soulful at Finding Ninee

Kate, she can make the phone book tweetable and hilarious at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Janine, she’s a Renaissance woman at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic


I am proud to be featured in the anthology: Sunshine After the Storm – A survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, which came out in hard cover last week. To order a copy click here.

80 thoughts on “The Bleeding Red Dress

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Ok. Not to downplay the pain in this post, but I must say that you’re gorgeous in that photo. If that’s what your sadness and brokenness look like, you are blessed in the looks department. But with that said, I love your honesty in this post and I totally get on board with the Fake It Till You Make It philosophy when dealing with tragedy. My mom gave me that advice in the midst of my postpartum depression – in 2010 to be exact – and I took it to heart. Clothing, smile, hair done, normal exterior when the interior was crumbling, breaking, and falling apart. It’s amazing that we can so easily split ourselves into two and show the outside world such a different person than the one we actually are within the four walls of our home. Great post and I’m so glad you have a cute little man these days to help you deal with the losses you experienced before you received him as a blessing.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much friend, you’re far too kind. I know that it’s probably hard to tell when you don’t know a person, as in see them on a daily basis, but I can see the sadness in my own eyes and such a heavy expression. I completely agree with your mom and I’m so glad for you that she got through to you. I wanted to be comforted but was finding a lot of what was being said to me not so helpful. The essay in the book discusses that, actually.

      Thank you as always for your thoughtful and kind comments and you’re right, I cherish my little guy that came out of this journey. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Oh, Katia,… I echo Elizabeth’s comment that sometimes it is about putting forth a brave face, and making ourselves look nice on the outside…. faking it til we make it can sometimes work. And this is such a powerful reminder, too, that those who look completely put together and amazing may be dealing with some demons, too.

  3. I’m so glad you finally got what you wanted. You have beautiful children from what I’ve seen. By the way, you really did look good in that scarf, no matter how you felt. God Bless.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you SO much, Susannah! Yes, it was a long long journey but I got my second one at the end of it and I never forget, I look at him often and feel like his my ‘fellow traveller’. 🙂

  4. dmdeluca17 says:

    Even for wordsmiths…there are never adequate words for such losses.


    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much and I completely agree with you. I’ve often struggled myself with commenting on posts like that. I am blessed with a second child, but thank you so much for the sentiment.

  5. I honestly just want to say and echo what a few others said here, you look so beautiful in the picture and would never have known until reading this all you had been through. I truly am so sorry you ever had to go through any of that and my heart aches knowing you did. You are so very brave for sharing this will all of us and please know I truly was reading this and just wanting to reach out and hug you, Katia.

  6. Jen says:

    Oh Katia, this is so beautiful and gut-wrenching. You just open up and let the world in. I can’t do that. Even now, even without experiencing your grief, I still hide behind doors. Your grief clearly has been a blessing and a curse. I can’t imagine how many people you are helping by writing so beautifully about this.

    • Katia says:

      Sure you can, my friend. You open up about so much. Everything you write about life with Isaiah is opening up. I’m sure there are things I haven’t opened up about that you did. I think this subject is easier for me to open up about now, because I always hope for this exact reaction that I got from you. I always hope that people draw some comfort. LOVE YOU.

  7. findingninee says:

    This is amazing and I, too, believe in people. It amazes me sometimes, how “normal” we look on the outside while on the inside, we feel so broken and vulnerable and shattered. Horrible, even. And nobody sees it. I’m actually a little appalled at the other comments who are just reassuring you that you look beautiful. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? That we can just look like us when we feel ugly, horrible NOISE on the inside? I’m so happy happy glad for you that your story turned out that you have two amazing boys. And they have an amazing mom. I promise. They do.

    • Katia says:

      I know you believe in people, my friend. And YES to the point you’re making on outside normalcy vs. inner chaos and brokenness. I know you understand like nobody else. XOXO

  8. Rich Rumple says:

    Katia, I never knew your story until now. There’s times in life when nothing looks good and we allow depression to rule our thoughts. I have to constantly remind myself that things are temporary and will get better. Obviously, things did get better for you! I didn’t see the sadness in the picture as much as I saw one searching for an answer to her longing. I’m glad it was finally provided. Very deep post!

  9. Katia, I think you might’ve just broken my heart for me. This resonates so strongly, both for (ouch, it’s close) nearly a year ago, and for now, ongoingly, in a different situation. That desperate desire to control *something*… and to seem as if it’s all together and okay, as we break into a million pieces on the inside.

    I’m so glad you got your ‘Time Traveller’, but nothing (I expect) will ever get rid of the echoes of that awful, dark place.

    Beautifully and powerfully written. Sending you *MASSIVEHUGS* and hoping you never end up feeling again the way you did in that brutiful photograph.

    • Katia says:

      I was actually crying when I read your heartfelt comment. It hit me straight in the soul. I know exactly how you feel, Lizzi. You are the queen of all together and okay and that is why people are drawn to you, but I know it doesn’t numb the pain. I am praying, praying, praying. MASSIVEHUGS.

      • Ohmigosh – someone’s been falsely advertising me to you, hun, I am the QUEEN of Untogether and Really-not-okay-at-all! But I do think you’re utterly awesome, and I wonder whether it’s not so much the ‘got it together’ness as it is the preparedness to be vulnerable and share Truths which creates the resonance, perhaps in both our cases, because I certainly know that each time I come over here, I feel like you write straight into the middle of my mind and heart, and you just ‘get’ it.

        And thanks for the prayers. I need ’em at the moment 🙂 Sending you some back *HUGS*

  10. Your post took me back 14 years in my own life. We humans are made to survive these experiences, although they leave a scar on our souls. Hugs xx

  11. Wow. I am completely lost for words. I have been blogging for five months and this is the most incredible, heart-breaking, beautifully written and unforgettable post I have read in all that time. That’s all I’m going to say.

  12. That’s a beautiful picture of you but I think I would have been able to read it. I have one just like it. My husband used to use me as a model a lot as he practiced photography. The pain I know exists behind my eyes in those pictures make me want to throw them away. I am so happy that you have had success.

    • Katia says:

      This is an incredibly touching comment for me, Kenya. Even though I am not that broken ‘her’ anymore, it still comforts me to know that someone would have been there for her. Hard to explain, but thank you.

  13. I agree with all the others – you look beautiful in that photo, but nobody really knows what lies beneath do they? We all have pain and worries and fears to hide – some deeper and darker than others. I love your point that about letting the outside in and believing in people. Very moving!

  14. Robbie says:

    Damn this is rip your heart out beautiful. I haven’t walked in your shoes but I’ve experienced more losses in other ways than I care to remember and this is exactly it.

  15. I too have sat in the waiting rooms of the fertility clinic. We never did IVF but about everything else. I think ya’lls book will help a lot of people who unfortunately find themselves in this situation. The grief sometimes can be all consuming.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for this comment, which I’ve discovered way too late, sorry about that. I’m very hopeful that the book will be helpful.

  16. Dana says:

    I believe in people too, Katia. I forget that sometimes, so thank you for reminding me. I’m so sorry for your loss. And so happy for your that in October 2013 you have two babies to hold.

  17. Any loss is terrible, no matter the time of year, but I especially hate anything that falls around a holiday or special date [anniversary, etc.] because then it becomes a reminder alert of the loss. I wonder if on that day, rather than “fake it til you make it,” the costume was really just giving you something to hide behind. Either way, that puts you miles ahead of me – I would have been curled up in bed for at least a week. We are at opposite ends of the Halloween birth spectrum – with my birthday being at the end of July, I have always assumed I was a product of a wild Halloween party. 😉

    • Katia says:

      “A reminder alert of the loss” is so accurately put and I love your observation about the costume giving me something to hide behind. You’re absolutely right.

  18. This post stopped me in my tracks. I am so very sorry that you have had to go through all of this. I well know that exterior/interior duality dance. Looking back to 1997 when my husband died leaving me with a 3 year old daughter and a 16 month son to raise on my own, I sometimes wish I had a “fast forward” button. One that would allow me to zip into the future to see how things turned out and then zip back to the present. But maybe that’s cheating. Maybe we need to go through everything in order to appreciate the every day.
    I’m so very happy that you are blessed with your two.

    • Katia says:

      I’m incredibly touched to read your comment and would probably never dream of comparing your situation to my own, but as a friend once told me “a loss is a loss”. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me and I think I can relate to everything you wrote here, the fast forward part as well as the message – we need to go through the bad parts to appreciate the good and ourselves for enduring them.

  19. So beautiful that I found myself in tears. That brought back memories of my own losses, nearly 3 years ago now, and how I felt in those first few raw days. Being in the waiting room at my OB’s office, filled with pregnant women, was nearly unbearable. Those feelings feel so far away for me, but reading this, all of a sudden, there they are! That’s not intended to make you feel bad- it’s a compliment to your powerful words. Much love from your soul replica. 🙂

    • Katia says:

      I know you would never say anything to make me feel bad. I understand you meant the post really resonated with you. Thank you so much for that, my dear friend!

  20. Sarah says:

    What a beautiful post. So happy you had a second successful pregnancy and glad I found your blog.

  21. Psychobabble says:

    This was so powerful, it gave me chills.

  22. Sarah Almond says:

    Beautiful Katia. I don’t have any profound words to share, just love for your writing and your bravery of sharing this.

  23. Natalie DeYoung says:

    So full of feeling, reading this one. I see this is what a broken heart looks like. I’m so sorry you know this kind of loss.

  24. Nina Badzin says:

    Beautiful and honest and powerful.

  25. I cannot fathom the pain that you experienced with such a loss but I can understand hiding behind facades. I find that it is so much easier to let it go and just be how you are feeling. I know…harder said than done. This post is an open book to your pain my friend and I know that a lot of women will be able to (very heartbreakingly) relate to it. Much love friend xoxo

  26. twitter: LisasLeben says:

    Having never suffered miscarriage I cannot pretend to know exactly what you’ve been through, but I have suffered clinical depression and I do know what it is like to present yourself fine on the outside while crumbling within. I look at your picture, and while you are clearly beautiful, I can most certainly see the darkness, the tears welling in your eyes. Your eyes are haunting. Thank you so much for sharing your experience so that others may feel less isolated.

    • Katia says:

      And I think the post is mostly about that part – the presenting yourself fine on the outside when you’re so not. I’m sure you could relate to that part. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and your words, so kind and heartfelt, just put a lump in my throat. Thank you!

  27. Courthey says:

    This is a beautiful post. It must have taken a lot of courage to hit the “publish” button, and I’m so thankful that you did and shared it all with us.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, courtney. It did require courage when I just started writing about this topic, but then it got easier. This specific post – some of it was still hard, to share, admit, remember. Mostly didn’t want it to sound whiny. I really appreciate your comment, thank you so much!

  28. […] Thank you discovering my dog’s nose in the left hand side of that photo of me I consider the embodiment of sadness. That reminded me that even when you’re super sad […]

  29. Shauna says:

    Accessories are for when everything else is fine. I like that line.

    Visiting from SITS

  30. What a beautiful post! This brought me right back to my first miscarriage at 10 weeks. I remember voting in the 96 presidential campaign before going to the hospital to have the procedure to take my baby that stopped growing out of me. So, so sad. I felt in between, pregnant, but not. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Kathy, and yes, it’s incredibly sad having the baby taken out of you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and kindness.

  31. “Broken things can still break some more.” Such a beautiful line, Katia, although I’m so sorry that you had to live it. And I’m glad for the people in your life!

  32. Jennifer says:

    I’m new to the blogging world and came across your blog recently when I was looking for bloggers in Toronto. I am so grateful to have read your post. I had two miscarriages before I had my now 18 month old son and have always struggled to put into words how I felt during that dark time. “Broken things can still break some more” really does speak volumes to me. I had barely even heard of miscarriage and then to be living it felt so surreal. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for so clearly being able to describe the feelings that are so difficult to share with others.

    • Katia says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for reaching out to let me know that reading this was meaningful to you and I am very familiar with the feeling you describe of feeling something, not being able to put it into words and then reading it somewhere else. Again thank you for your kindness and best of luck with the blog.

  33. I’m so glad there were people there for you. As someone who has just been through something similar I would like to thank you for your amazing courage in posting this and making something so personal so utterly beautiful and inspiring. It’s nice to know when you are not the only one. I applaud you and wish you all the very best. Thank you.So much.

    • Katia says:

      What a wonderfully wonderful comment! Thank you so much. For a while I did a series of guest posts on this topic with the purpose of relaying that message – you are not the only one. I am so so glad you’ve felt supported. (If you feel like you can benefit from reading more posts like that feel free to look at the Donate a Post category on my blog).

  34. Rabia Lieber says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  35. I believe in people too. Sometimes it’s people that get us through the day. Sorry for your loss. This is a beautifully written post.

  36. Heather says:

    I am here from SiTS but I really like your blog and I think we have a lot in common. I also love the bachelor. I also breastfeed and sometimes I just feel like “the milk”.
    This post, however, is so raw and poignant I just want to send you a huge hug. I have never been through what you have and can’t even fathom how awful it must have been. But I love the way you have written it, and compared the experience to clothing. Thanks for writing.

  37. marianney says:

    While I can’t say I know exactly what you went through here, I too went through a long infertility bout so I can understand your pain there. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, I love your writing. I am so glad to know you were blessed a second time with your new son.

    Happy Sits day ❤

  38. mrsthaywood says:

    I am almost at a lost for words but couldn’t leave this post without saying anything. I could never understand fully your feelings except that through your words I feel that you have allowed me a glimpse. That feeling of not allowing your outside to match your inside is one I feel we have all experienced even if not associated with a loss. I have often worn my ‘costume’ for society simply to avoid the questions asking me to reveal more than I was ready to. Thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself with us.

    • Katia says:

      This is really heartwarming maybe even more so due to the fact that you could relate through a totally different experience. I am so glad you didn’t leave without saying anything 🙂 Thank you so much for this comment.

  39. There really aren’t any perfect words for this sort of pain and sadness. And I do think we often reflect how we feel in our clothes.. in what we “put on” for the world. Many women will benefit from reading this post and at least knowing they are not in the valley alone:)

  40. Your statement that broken things can still be broken more…so expressive and deep. Happy SITS day.

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