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All love stories start the same way. Girl meets boy, girl and boy date, and that relationship could either end in marriage, or it could end in a breakup. However, for me, the finale came weeks later on my bathroom floor as I miscarried my ex-boyfriend’s baby.
I’ll call him James*. We were co-workers, slaving away at the same part-time job to get through college. From the first time I saw him, with his crooked glasses and faded purple concert T-shirt, I knew he was going to be important to me. I never had the nerve to act on my crush, but when I realized he liked me back, boy oh boy did we fall in love.
It was the kind of love that comes from just clicking with someone, from understanding them and having them understand you unconditionally. As the relationship went on, I started to think that maybe he could be it. After all, people spend years looking for the happiness we had. Maybe he could be the one.
He broke up with me the week before Christmas, claiming he didn’t have time and that he would always love me -– you know, all the things you hear when they can’t say they just don’t love you anymore. I spent the next week holed up in bed, eating éclairs and watching "Grey’s Anatomy." If I had been in a better state, I might have noticed I had missed my period.
Returning to school was terrible. On top of still being heartbroken and terrified of having to face James, I started having unexplained dizzy spills. Over wine I told my roommate I felt strange but didn’t know why –- she told me booze would do that. We laughed.
The vomiting started the next day, and I thought I was just suffering from a hangover from Hell. I couldn’t keep any food down whatsoever, like my new purpose in life was to solely be a puke-producing machine. When I realized it wasn’t a hangover, I called it food poisoning. The flu. Being upset over James.
I tried to hide it, but my friends arched their eyebrows when I would order chili cheese fries and chocolate cake. I wasn’t surprised either when I saw the numbers climbing up on the scale –- with that aforementioned diet, who would have been?
A month after the breakup, I ran in the door and immediately went to the toilet. After throwing up again, I lay down on the floor of my bathroom, wondering what the hell was the matter and why I couldn’t shake this was and oh my God I hadn’t gotten my period in two months.
There are the clichés for when you realize something terrible –- getting a bucket of ice water thrown on you, getting hit by a bus, getting punched in the stomach -– but combined, those couldn’t do justice to the crippling sensation that broke me into angles and sharp edges. I was graduating college in four months and about to start that quote-unquote rest of my life. This couldn’t be happening.
I couldn’t be pregnant at 21.
I thought of getting a pregnancy test, but I knew I’d have to drive way out of town to get it to avoid running into a friend, professor, or God forbid, James. Really and truly though, the test would be a waste. All the signs pointed to the same thing.
And yes, we used protection every time.
The next three days were the worst of my life. I knew I had to tell James, but he had just dumped me. He had just dumped me, he didn’t love me, and I had his child growing inside of me. I am pro-choice, but I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I had an abortion. The terrifying reality was I was going to have this thing inside of me for seven more months, only to hand him or her over to a loving couple who could give them a life I couldn’t.
At the end of three days, I went to bed, exhausted from the crying, the confusion, and the continuous vomiting. I still hadn’t told anyone because if I spoke the words it would all become the kind of real I wasn’t ready to deal with yet -– in hindsight, an immature as hell decision. Instead I just pulled the covers over my head and felt my stomach. Whoever you are, I thought, We’ll get through this though. I guess I’m going to be your mom. It’s my job to take care of you.
Hours later, I woke up contorted in pain. Something was ripping me apart from the inside out, feeling like the worst case of cramps I’d ever had times a thousand. The feeling of globs of blood between my legs was unmistakable. It may have taken me weeks to piece together my pregnancy, but it took only a few seconds to realize I was having a miscarriage.
I didn’t sleep that night. I took six showers before sitting down on the floor of my bathtub. My skin was puffy red from the pelting water, but I deserved to be beaten up. I should have never gotten pregnant in the first place, but it was even more unnatural to lose your seven week, size-of-a-blueberry baby.
A trip to the doctor confirmed everything. She encouraged me to talk to someone, but I felt like no one understood. In a month I had lost my boyfriend, my best friend, and my baby. There was a nagging ache inside that I couldn’t shake. People talk about losing pieces of themselves all the time, but I had literally lost a piece of me.
I searched the Internet, desperately looking for forums, blogs, anything for someone who got it. Instead, I felt like a fraud. All of these women posting horrifying stories of their own miscarriages were married women who were trying to get pregnant. I hadn’t wanted a baby at that time in my life, and I couldn’t find a support group that was called, “Hey, I miscarried my ex-boyfriend’s baby that I hadn’t really wanted but am still really messed up about it.” It felt too disrespectful to equate what I had been through with what those women had.
By the grace of time, the emptiness began to fill –- but it still quite hasn’t completely. It’s like that game you played as a kid to learn shapes, the one with the pegs and matching shaped holes. It felt like someone had put the circular peg in the square hole and just left it there. The circle fit and filled up most of the space, but it didn’t fit all the way. There were just little cracks of air, tiny pockets of space that still, on occasion, make me feel raw and exposed.
I’ve figured out how to hold my head up high. I go to work and hang out with friends and I live -– but I can never quite forget about those cracks. You can never forget what that emptiness feels like.
I eventually told James. We’ve been nothing but strangers ever since. I still see him from time to time, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. For the longest time being around him felt like I was being chiseled and hammered away to pieces. It’s gotten better now, but seeing him is still just a hurtful reminder of everything I lost. For a long time he was disgusted by me. I was, too.
You lose more than just a baby. You lose your pride, your dignity, and your self-confidence. You lose a whole other life that you could have had, even if that life hadn’t been part of the plan.
I eventually realized that even though we may not understand it, everything happens for a reason. For me, that reason wound up being my first real job after graduation -– working as an assistant at one of the nation’s top pregnancy magazines. They never knew about what happened to me, but when I wrote, I could write with genuine feeling because I knew what was at stake. Rock bottom indeed can be the sturdiest foundation for the rest of your life.
This story didn’t exist when I needed it most. If you’re out there and reading this because you’ve been where I have, I’ll tell you what I needed to hear but never did: It was not your fault. A miscarriage in a situation like this is still real and painful. Don’t ever let anyone belittle you because of it. You are not to blame. You are not scary or disgusting or bad. And most importantly, you are never alone.
*Name has been changed