On Mother’s Day 2019, I discovered I was pregnant. The next day, I lost the baby. It had been our first pregnancy in nearly three years after suffering two miscarriages in 2016.
As I write this, it has been one week. I’m back at work. As I drift through the office, one hand occasionally resting on my stomach, I can feel emptiness there. Just over a week ago, I carried the beginnings of life. It is a strange, hollow feeling to have known and felt the presence of my child, days before any test, and then to know and feel just as definitely its absence.
This past weekend we were supposed to have the girls, and I navigated the week of the miscarriage completely in denial that this would be too much. The weight of knowing we’re the only respite option was heavy on me, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. After a cry on the beach with a friend on the Friday, and with four hours until drop-off, I finally said something. Respite was cancelled, and everyone was very kind and understanding.
I believe that miscarriage shouldn’t have to be a secret – I think talking about helps other women to feel not alone – but I’m also mentioning it now because it’s part of this story of fostering. As much as I wish it weren’t, it’s part of my story.
Without my miscarriages, I wouldn’t have pursued adoption at this point in our lives, and that pursuit led us to fostering. We wouldn’t have known or loved Ana and Baby. I also might not have had so many conflicting and difficult feelings about forever with the kids. Undeniably, my losses have impacted my fostering journey.
And with this third loss – my worst fear realised – I have rediscovered the urgency of taking care of myself and enforcing boundaries to do so. After yet another complete loss of control over something so desperately important, and after witnessing myself still putting others first when I so badly needed to make myself the priority, I have found the clarity to begin to control the things I can – my wellness, my spirit and my not-inexhaustible reserves of emotional strength.
In this one week, I have started eating more vegetables, enjoying multigrain bread with olive oil, and stretching before bed. I checked out three mystery novels from the library, saw Avengers Endgame twice, and yesterday found myself laughing with CT in the kitchen for no reason. I made homemade applesauce for Issy, and banana bread, and saw a few friends. I focussed on me because I know I really have to.
And I realised how much I have agreed to truck along with long-term respite for the girls “until the time is right” out of a sense of obligation and fear of the unknown for myself and the girls – despite having felt deeply since Baby’s birthday party that I want to move on now. I have wanted to do the right thing – but I need to see them settle into their new family without being their old mama again on odd weekends. I want to wave them off into their new life knowing we did everything we could, and to close this chapter. I want to be open to new opportunities. I want to love and help another child – and/or take some time to just love and help myself.
With this third loss, I have no more worst fears. Of course I wonder: What if we try again and have a fourth miscarriage? I dunno, what if we don’t? Does being afraid of it matter, or change anything? No. Am I still standing? Yes. I feel like there is nothing left that I’m willing to part with the energy to be afraid of. Maybe this has helped provide me with so much clarity.
We have agreed to next weekend with the girls as a possible last, or near last, hurrah – nothing certain, of course. I can send all their clothes and books from our house back with them just in case, plus a photo book with our memories together. We will have playdates and try to have some fun. I have now discussed ending this particular journey with our social worker, who has agreed we should move in this direction.
I have loved loving the girls. I want to say goodbye now.