Showing up to the hospital to have your dead dreams sucked out of your uterus is a dreadful errand. First, a quick stop at the pharmacy where another cold woman spoke to me in a language that was not mine: “Pills, to make you to do not care.” I actually laughed. That is, if you can call the dry wretched bark of a sound that escaped my larynx a “laugh”. My face contorted into a wry, bitter expression I intended as a smile. Yet another thing that didn’t translate.
Then, you wait. The vibe in the waiting room made it clear that this was D&C day for more than just us. An immaculately dressed biracial couple wearing no rings clutched a sonogram and softly wept, occasionally speaking in hushed accents. A lone hispanic woman with a distended belly leaned her head back and closed her eyes, weary from the weight of it all. Their expressions required no interpreter: sorrow is universal and loss does not discriminate. I’ll never forget them. Their faces are stitched into the burial shroud that covers that day.
Some time passes… seconds and minutes both dragging and hurtling toward our “turn”. I blink, the slow drugged blink of “do not care”. Next scene: I’m on a table. On the wall of the sunless room is a macabre scene of sunflowers and a red barn, on the ceiling: clouds. It’s almost insulting, that someone tried to make this room cheerful. I’d have preferred the sterility of hospital green. The obscene sunflowers stare back at me. I am vulnerable, exposed, broken. But I am not empty. Not yet.
This is the part where the pain begins. (I’ll let you know when we get to the part where it ends.)
D&C is an acronym for ‘dilation and curettage’. This means they literally dilate the birth canal and then either dice apart and skewer or vacuum the baby out. It’s a vicious process, and indescribably painful. Every. single. other. woman I know who has undergone this procedure was put under general anesthesia, but for reasons that remain unclear to me, I was never offered that option.
So many things about that day are inescapably, hauntingly clear.
The Sadness, The Pain, The People.
But the thing I remember most, the thing that is seared into my consciousness, the thing I desperately want to erase is The Sound.
You know at the dentist, after they rinse your mouth, when they suck out the rinse water? Can you hear that sound of choked off air as suction meets flesh, then the gurgle as it is released down the hose? I can. Only this is not the dentist, and it’s not rinse water.
For years, The Sound echoed into the darkest places of me, it reverberated in the emptiness, taunting me, judging me, dragging my failure into full view and brutally morphing it into fear.
Anyone who has ever endured losing a pregnancy, or several, or been dealt the cruel card of infertility can tell you that while the pain is deep, the fear is what cripples you.
Pain is lessened by time, fear is nourished by it.
Fear tells you you’ll never have the most desperate desire of your heart.
Fear tells you you’re broken and a failure.
I am beyond blessed to have two healthy, happy, whole children. I carried them, gave birth to them, and have cared for them well enough to keep them alive so far. Those empty rooms that once contained only screams of disappointment were filled twice over, and my heart is full to the brim, still I can occasionally hear The Sound.
My hope is that if I refused to keep it locked away, if I tell the world, then the echo will have no walls off which to bounce. My hope is that if I talk about the dark places, however small they’ve shrunk, light will find its way in and they’ll be gone.
Why don’t we talk about miscarriage and D&Cs and infertility? Why was it so automatic for me to attach shame to a tragic event that happened TO me? I hope that if you’re going through something similar you won’t keep it in and let it fester. Please, do not bear your agonizing burden alone. Join me, share your story, and together we will #silencethesound.
Writing this post was rough. I found some remaining shards of depression, anxiety, and shame. Ultimately, the process has been intensely therapeutic and I am so glad I chose to take it on. I am eternally grateful to:
BJ, my rock. Thanks for loving me no matter what.
Lauren of By Love Refined for your friendships and for sharing your own story of pregnancy loss. Your humble and graceful response to this particular hardship inspired me to rethink my own, and to seek the closure I didn’t know I needed.
Ryan, for the encouragement, for reading, for the kind words.
Finally, I am most deeply thankful to Jillian of Southwind Jillian who has graciously agreed to join me in the #silencethesound project. Her editing and helped refine this post and give me the courage to go through with it.
Please visit these blogs and watch for more posts about Silencing the Sound here and on instagram.