sharing your stories and remembering your children
By Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
A few weeks ago at the Guardian, Alexandra King wrote an article titled “A maddening grief: my year of miscarriages and how I got through it.” It is a beautiful piece that touches on the various kinds of pain suffered through miscarriage – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Her pain through three miscarriages led to a new hobby: baking bread. She writes:
“Still, in spite of it all, the axis upon which the tragedy/comedy line sits had figured out the coordinates of my New York City kitchen. I knew, in my heart, that it was a sad, bad joke of an impulse. No buns in my oven, at least not for long anyway. But I had to do something. So I banged out sourdough loaves by the dozen. Though many failed for no reason whatsoever, as petulant and unpredictable as my capricious embryos, I couldn’t stop. Even with forearms creased green at the elbow from the daily blood lets at the fertility clinic, where I had turned to try and see if lovely dependable science could figure out why my longed-for babies never stuck around."
King also describes a new habit formed after speaking with a blood technician:
“Then she asks if I believe in God. I am mortified, but I still say no, because I don’t. 'Oh,' she says, not unkindly. 'I was going to tell you to pray.'
Which is why, days later, at home, watching the thick lines of my scoring puff sensuous tendrils into the lid of my loaf, I am surprised to realize, with a start, that I am doing just that. I am kneeling next to the oven, head bent, like a pilgrim at a shrine, talking to the humanist god (or goddess, or both, or nothing). That I am saying, out loud, over and over again, ‘God, please let me have my baby. I will do anything, I will be whatever you need, whatever you want, just please, let my baby stay.” I’m not sure how long I’ve been on the ground. All I know is that when I push my hands to my sticky cheeks, they are white hot, as if the oven’s flames had licked them a long time.”
Baking bread. Praying. For King, these were activities born out of despair. If you read the piece (and you should), she is desperate for comfort in something, anything. Despair often drives us to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. When we see loved ones who have miscarried, we should not be surprised by new habits.
But we should also recognize that the depth of despair that King describes is because a child, or in her case, children, have been lost. Those who suffer miscarriage grieve a death, and until we acknowledge that, until we let that seep into our bones, we will struggle to comfort our bereaved loved ones.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Associate Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University