After struggling with fertility and suffering multiple miscarriages, one mom explains why she believes hope is like "a powerful virus."
Miscarriage is a grenade lobbed at the heart, mind, and soul. When the dust clears and it's time to salvage pieces of your former self, it's easy to think twice about letting hope back into your heart. Is there even a place for it now? Pregnancy loss takes you through a contentious walk with hope, and it's tough to know whether you'll ever get over the betrayal, especially to the point where you can lean on hope once again.
It sounds sadistic, but my first miscarriage filled me hope. Before then, I couldn't even get arrested, now, finally, I had my first mention on a fertility rap sheet. Sure, it took an IUI to get that mention, but it told me that yes, I did have the ability to become pregnant. However brief that brush with pregnancy was, I was all in. This was something I could work with. It was a golden pebble from the elusive yellow brick road to motherhood. But when a second—and then third—miscarriage followed, that pebble began to look more like fool's gold.
Related: Healing After a Miscarriage
I began to swear off of hope, only to find myself slowly getting reacquainted with it again. And as I have continued to suffer early pregnancy losses—both before and after the birth of my 1-year-old daughter—I've finally come to a less resistant place with hope. I've learned that hope is like a powerful virus, and I'm only human—its favorite host. I've also learned...
1. Hope is stubborn. In the wake of a pregnancy loss, hope is like a bruised and bloodied boxer who got tossed out the ring but keeps coming at his opponent. After taking a blow below the belt like this, there will come a time when hope will entice you to get back into the ring. I and many other moms are proof of that. We continue to be possessed by this stubborn fighter spirit.
2. Hope appears naive, but it isn't. Each chip stacked against me has a label: Advanced maternal age. History of recurrent loss. History of infertility, etc. It's pretty defeating stuff—if you buy into it. Instead, I skip through the remainder of my childbearing years with wide-eyed anticipation, like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on the mean streets of New York. Roll your eyes if you want, but I'll happily risk being labeled naí¯ve rather than step into the boxes statistics want to place me in.
3. Hope is survival. Pregnancy loss takes you through all sorts of lows, but I came to an understanding that if I started to believe that all hope was lost, I'd sink into black-hole depths I'd never experienced before. Without an awareness of hope floating somewhere in my orbit, it would become tougher to summon the will to even see the sun each day. In this respect, hope becomes my spaceship back to the land of the living.
4. Hope is faith. Oftentimes, in the early first trimester when my symptoms go silent and I fear the pregnancy is no longer viable, I double up on hope by listening to faith music. For me, hope sounds like a soaring note or an urging message in a gospel song. Whether it plays out in quick, energizing beats or slow, soothing strings, something about music strengthens my faith and restores my hope. When I'm drawn to seek out this form of melodic prayer, I know that hope is hard at work.
5. Hope is uplifting. What if I told you that next month, you'll be sent on an all-expense paid vacation to the Fiji Islands? Doesn't the thought put a pep in your step? For just those few seconds that you imagined what that would be like, some internal cloud shifted and it felt...nice. That's the delight that feeling hopeful can bring. II've found that the mere practice of looking for a silver lining is good for my mental health.
6. Hope is what you make it. Hope changes form and intensity, depending on who is under its influence. Handle with care, because consuming high doses can be reckless. Conversely, too little hope can leave a deficiency. Calibrate to your personality through trial and error. Me? Even after my depressing trials, I really do hang on to hope and anticipation. And I'm happy to say it's working for me.
Debbie Rigaud is an author of Young Adult fiction. She and her husband welcomed a baby girl in early 2014, and life as they knew it has (thankfully) never been the same. Follow her on Twitter: @debbierigaud.