We seldom speak of the shame within after suffering a miscarriage. The shame is real, and sometimes, owning our story enables us to be rid of it.
The Fleeting Glance
A few days ago, I bumped into our neighbour, Elly. She has known me since I was a little girl, with her son being the same age as I. Mum had shared with her the good news of our pregnancy. Elly never got around to hearing about our miscarriage. That is, of course, until a few days ago.
A few weeks ago, Elly and I met on the lift landing. Her eyes took a fleeting glance at my flat belly. She did not ask, so I did not tell.
The East Coast
A couple of weekends back, Florian and I were discussing about our living situation. He asked if we should move back to the East Coast. Reluctantly, I said we could. I know he loves it there. I learned to love it too.
In the two years we lived around Katong, I had managed to make friends with the people at Oak Health; become familiar with the cashiers at the supermarkets; and banter with our security guard, as well as the ones at our neighbouring building. Still, the thought of returning made me heart ache.
Florian says that memories can be built upon. The memory of walking along East Coast road with my burgeoning baby belly; laughing in bed when we saw our babies moving; singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs for them while baking. These are painfully happy memories. It hurts to go back to an area that brings back this flood of emotions. But this isn’t so much the reason I hesitate to go back to live there.
What it is, is shame.
The Shame Within
I feel shame at seeing those familiar faces. I fear the look of pity etched on their faces if they were to know that our babies are in heaven. It is an assumption that this will be the case. Yet, my fear is great enough for me to not allow even a slim chance for this to happen.
That being said, I have gone back to the East. I travel there once a week for my sessions at Oak Health. And still, I avoid shopping at the supermarkets in case I see the women who work there whom I used to chat with. I try not to walk by the guards at Red House, choosing to take a different route to the clinic. Even if I do encounter them, I fear the quick scan of my body accompanied by quizzical looks. They remind me that what was supposed to be there, isn’t there any more.
There is shame within after suffering a miscarriage. I am ashamed that our pregnancy was terminated; Ashamed that I contracted an infection and my body couldn’t fight it; Ashamed that I allowed myself to be ecstatic over our babies, too soon before they were able to survive outside of my womb.
What is True, is True
At the same time, I cannot deny that at those points in time, our babies were present. They were with us. And our joy was genuine. We celebrated them while they were here. Our triplets were God’s gift to us and it is true that we enjoyed them while we had them.
There is no shame in life, so why should there be shame in death?
When I saw Elly those few days ago, I shared with her about what had happened. And by sharing, I felt a sense of freedom. Our loss shouldn’t be a secret kept bubbling away for others to play Guess with. After all, it is exactly the whispers behind my back that is more upsetting to deal with. By sharing the truth, nothing more can be said.
As we parted at our lift landing, Elly patted my shoulder (which is a rather big gesture of affection in this part of the world between people who don’t kiss and hug), and told me she was sorry to hear of what had happened. I was sorry I didn’t speak of it sooner to her.
The Shame Without
Writing here about the shame within after suffering a miscarriage, I am made aware that there is really nothing to be ashamed of. What I am feeling comes from inside of me. It is not objective. It is not true.
Florian and I had every reason to be happy. We had every right to share the news of our triplets. I could not have controlled getting the infection. Neither could I have force my body to oust it out, as much as I wanted to.
I recently told a close friend of mine, that we cannot control what others think or say about us. We can only control how we react. Similarly, I may not be able to dictate how others think towards me, but I can hold my head up high and be proud that we got through it. We are strong. We are warriors. Even better than that, I imagine that our babies are proud of us.