This is harder on me that I usually admit or even realize.
My husband and I don’t have children, and this is mostly by choice. It’s a conversation we’ve had more times than we can count. The short version lately has become a high-five when we see a little one throwing a tantrum in a store or the tired eyes of friends still figuring out early parenthood. It’s not that we don’t like kids- we do- it’s just not what we want for ourselves. It’s taken a lot of soul-searching and hard conversations to come to that decision, and it’s one we’re confident in.
The reason I said it’s “mostly” by choice is because I was pregnant once. I miscarried. It’s not something I’ve told a lot of people.
We weren’t expecting to get pregnant (ahem, oops) so there was as much doubt and anxiety as there was excitement about our new addition. I started writing a journal to our little invader in an effort to bond with her, but I also experienced a lot of grief and resentment that our plans had been changed so completely. My husband was champ. He was positive when I wasn’t able to be, and later he was strong when I felt completely broken.
I knew I was pregnant before taking a test, and I knew just as intuitively when it was over. Everything that had told me I was pregnant stopped as suddenly as it started. As we sat going over paperwork at our ten-week checkup, I just nodded and waited for them to finish talking so they could discover and confirm what I already knew. During the Doppler, they used reassuring words that didn’t match their worried faces (“Sometimes the baby is too far back to hear…”). I thought I had prepared myself, but my heart has never shattered more than when the poor sonogram technician breathed, in all one word, “TheresnoheartbeatImsosorry.”
The following minutes/hours/days/weeks are now just a blur of tears, hugs, second-guessing, doctor visits, and both physical and emotional healing. It took longer than I expected for my body to get back to normal. My body that had failed and betrayed me.
I don’t write this for sympathy (though I’ll admit it is helpful to get it off my chest). I’m sharing this because I often ask you to trust your own body, and I understand that sometimes that can be really, really hard. After a miscarriage, struggles with infertility, being diagnosed with a chronic illness, unwanted weight gain that feels like a loss of control, or whatever it may have been for you personally, how do you forgive your body? How can you trust it again? It’s tough. That horrible September day wasn’t the first or the last time I’ve felt anger toward my own body.
Lately I’m trying a new perspective, though. I’m trying to remember that my body is human. Humans make mistakes. Humans hurt. Humans stumble, and sometimes we fail despite our best efforts. Even with its flaws, this body isn’t my enemy; it’s as much me as my feelings, my memories, and my story. I would never rage at another human suffering the pain of miscarriage. The kindest thing I can do for this imperfect human body is extend it the same care and compassion I would anyone else. The same goes for you, and your imperfect human body.
I ordered a print for our new office that reads, “I may not be perfect but parts of me are pretty awesome!” I like that a lot. I had a failed pregnancy, I have asthma, and my immune system sometimes goes rogue and attacks my small intestine, but I also got to play roller derby for four years. I ran a whole 10K for the first time recently. I’m a pretty good dancer, or I was last time I checked (it’s been a minute. Like I said, I’m in my late thirties). I’m told I give good hugs. This body has come through for me more times than it’s let me down, which isn’t any more than I would expect from anyone else.
No matter what your body is doing right now, can you extend the same forgiveness, understanding, and compassion? Your body has never betrayed you; it’s just been human. Like you. It deserves nurturing and nourishment like you, too.
You may not be perfect, but parts of you are pretty awesome.
(If I have been insensitive or oversimplified anyone’s personal experience, please forgive me. I know I haven’t thought of every situation or illness, and it is not my intention to diminish your pain in any way.)