NOTE FROM DAD OR ALIVE: This story was written by my wife. I had started and stopped many attempts to put onto paper my thoughts and feelings about this time in our lives and realized that, man or woman, father or mother, this post as it is may resonate with many parents out there… On this particular cold and overcast day in January, we were 200 miles apart. This article wasn’t written to invite sympathy, but rather to let other moms (and dads) know that it’s okay to talk about the tragedies, the darkness, and the heartache that occasionally visits our lives. Keeping it inside isn’t healthy and the light will always prevail…
“Where there is light, darkness cannot exist.”
This is such a powerful statement, and it is so true… I live by this daily. Optimism. Positivity. Glass Half Full.
We all have these insane predispositions about what other people’s lives are like. We all see what I like to call “The Instagram Side of Life,” that is the light side, the happiness, the pretty side… the moments in time we choose to share. We share the highs, but feel protective of the lows. We don’t talk about the dark.
Being the wife of a dad blogger is trusting that what he’s putting out there either helps my family or helps others by in some way making them realize they’re not alone in this abyss that is parenting. What I’ve spent the last six months really honing in on is that in actuality, sometimes I need his blog to make me feel less alone.
I want to talk about our darkness.
Let’s rewind about six months ago… My husband and I have been trying to add a fourth child to our family for almost two years… there’s never a “good time” so we choose to just let nature decide. We know and are astutely aware that we are blessed with three wonderful children, but we have both always wanted a large family. I firmly believe that a woman (and certainly a man as well) biologically just knows when she’s done. When her family is complete. And ours isn’t yet, and that’s ok—just like for families who want one child—that’s also ok, to each their own.
So I was really excited when my husband and I found out in January that we were expecting our fourth child! I felt like everything was falling into place—all of the pieces of our family, I was just on top of the world.
I think all women are superheroes. Every single one of them. All parents, really… but moms, we have that extra layer of responsibility in growing another life and carrying them for the better part of a year. We put our own lives on hold, happily, for these little beings.
I’m a Wife. I’m a Mom. I’m an Executive. Always at the same time. Never in the same order. I’ve pumped breast milk on the Acela heading to NY for a long day of meetings. I’ve pumped in edit bays or during conference calls. My staff would get used to seeing me with a muslin blanket thrown over my shoulder and the familiar whir of the Medela lulling them all to sleep in a never-ending creative meeting. My office is filled with kid’s art work. My lunches are spent pulling together goodie bags for Field Day or class party ideas for Halloween. The sticky remnants of those organic lollies that my parents sent us line the bottom of my designer work bag. The struggle is real, folks.
At the end of the day I’m really proud of how I’ve been able to balance all of these roles during this time of my life.
I wear my ability to be a strong woman, a wife, and a mom as a badge through my daily professional life. I’ve always welcomed it, I don’t make excuses for it. I think it makes me a better person and, as a result, a better executive. Multi-Tasker with a capital M.
That is, until the last week of January this year when all of my worlds came crashing down together.
If you are in television you know RealScreen. It’s the biggest week of the year. It’s like TV sleep away camp. Long 20-hour days full of meetings every half hour with all of the major networks and digital media companies… followed by dinners, parties, after parties and the ultra secretive after-after parties. The week sets the tone for the entire year. For me, it’s always the same formula—I want to take sizzle reels that become the talk of the conference. I want to reconnect with friends and colleagues. I want to wear new clothes or shoes or jewelry to give myself an artificial confidence boost. I want a detailed bible of my weekly itinerary… everything in its place. Neat. Orderly. I like to be prepped and ready to rock with no surprises.
What began at 7am Monday at the Marriott Marquis for most people was an insane RealScreen week. I looked myself in the mirror said “I got this!” and walked downstairs into the lobby. It was my first year at a new company and I expected, relished and even embraced the insanity and chaos that is the world’s most influential media executives together under one roof… but what I forgot in all of my prepping is that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.
My Monday started with a massive miscarriage in the hotel lobby bathroom.
In the middle of fifteen back to back meetings I ran back and forth to the women’s lounge under the cloak of quiet grief, miscarrying and delivering a fully intact first trimester embryo and amniotic sac on the toilet. The physical pain and the overwhelming sadness enveloped me. But stopping wasn’t an option.
As a mom, I was devastated. I didn’t know how to act, what to say to my colleagues, or how it was acceptable to feel.
So I said nothing.
Was I supposed to throw it away? Keep it? Bury it? I’d never been in this situation before and the sheer panic of having to get to the next meeting absolutely enveloped me. I kissed it, I took a photo of it, wrapped it gingerly in a paper towel and said goodbye. There’s no instruction manual. As a woman, as a mom, I had no idea what I was supposed to do.
As an executive, I knew what I had to do… I put on a brave face for my grief, my toilet filled with blood and the remains of this life, my pants stuffed with paper towels as I teetered in five inch heels hobbling from meeting to meeting to meeting. Dilated, I pitched and I sold, and along the way I gave myself pep talks… “just one more meeting. You can get through this.” I couldn’t sit down, my cervix too painful and my pants too full. Yet I don’t believe anyone knew a single thing was amiss.
This both made me happy and devastated me all at once. I could survive anything. I wasn’t a weak person. And simultaneously I wanted to scream “I’ve lost my baby! Help me!”
By the grace of God I made it through that day—it takes a lot to pull me down… my motto has always been “I got this” and this day was no exception. I thought I could carry on, rally and bring it home. I thought maybe I could forget it happened until a more convenient time. What I forgot in all of this is my own health. Wife. Mom. Executive… all at the same time. Never in the same order.
When I finally finished my meetings, my mom urged me to call my doctor who reminded me that as a negative blood type, I definitely needed a Rhogam injection, and quickly. All of the sudden, “I got this” wasn’t enough, I needed to see the doctor. I called one of my best friends, got my car out of valet, drove myself to the ER, and collapsed where I stayed through the evening and through the night.
There is no right nor wrong way to act after a miscarriage. But I’d be lying if I said this didn’t hit both my husband and me very hard… and part of what made it so hard was my inability—or unwillingness—to share it with those around me. I recognize the life that’s lost as one of our children. We’ve created four lives who have grown inside me, I’m a mother of four, and that life, however brief, deserves to be known. But for some reason society has made it inappropriate to talk about… it’s not ok to grieve a pregnancy lost so early. And it’s definitely not something you write about. I want to change that—I want to be able to talk about our darkness so that maybe it will shine much-needed light for someone else struggling with the same thing.
I felt like I finally came full circle as I sat down to write this, never knowing if I could or would actually share it–there will be judgment. There will be opinions. There will be people who say I’m crazy. But that’s ok.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” You are not alone.