The fact that you can go from being pregnant to having no baby in just a few hours seems unnatural. One night before bed I was sleeping with my hand on my belly, daydreaming about my baby. The next day he was gone and there was no way to get him back. In the aftermath of my first miscarriage, I felt a world of emotions that were new to me. I couldn’t put into words how I felt. I didn’t even know how to grieve.
I felt fear with my second miscarriage. Life afterward felt scary, like something could happen at any point, pregnant or not. I felt out of control of my body. My womb no longer felt like a safe haven for babies, but a place of danger. I had one job: protect my children. And I couldn’t even do that. As a mother of two, I’ve learned that you cannot control your children. But it’s a different emotion when your own body has turned its back on you.
I worked through, and continue to work through, the emotional side of losing my babies. I am comforted by the thought that I will someday see them. I have dreamt of Grace and Haven. In the fog of my mind, my father is holding them up in heaven. Seeing their little faces in my mind makes me miss them more, but I would rather mourn and miss them than never acknowledge who they are.
After two miscarriages, I am not the same. I am on hormonal pills to help my body discover its normal cycle again. Like my mind, my body is lost. My belly has grown from the medication and heaps of comfort food; when I look in the mirror, it reminds me of my early stages of pregnancy. I hate to even see myself. And the periods. Periods after a miscarriage are hell! It’s like a constant reminder from the devil himself that my womb is empty and no longer carries life. I relive that reality seven days of the month.
On my son’s birthday, I found myself in a corner with my hands over my chest, trying to calm myself down from the panic attack. As my heart beat faster and faster, I felt myself slowly slipping away from reality. I broke into cold sweats and my breathing became uneven. I laid on the floor, belly-down, with my hands on my chest to force myself not to hyperventilate. Minutes later, I rejoined the party with a smile on my face. ‘I am fine,’ I told myself. I am a mother, so I had to be fine. There is no time not to be.
My mind became a prison of overwhelmed chaos. Being around people became utterly impossible. At times, I would forget how to form normal sentences. So I do all I can do. I raise my babies. I clean my house. I hide. I diet and then drink a milkshake. I want to cry and get it all out, but my mind hinders the tears. My brain has become a cage and I am entwined in the deep roots of emotional fragility. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to escape. I’m just here and I don’t think anyone knows where to find me.
On the outside, everything looks fine. I say I am. My clean house says I am. My well-dressed children say I am. I have become so used to this cage where I hide my feelings — they don’t know to come looking for me. I haven’t told anyone that I am here or where to look for me if I ever disappear.
These are the hard moments. I have learned that I hold the key to my own cage. All along, I have been the man in black kidnapping myself, night after night. It was all me. I have the control to set myself free at any moment; I first have to release the key from the strong grip of my hands and turn it.
It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay not to be able to explain how you are. It’s okay to need privacy. It’s okay to ask for sanctuary and live in solitude for some time. But you must leave. You cannot stay. It’s only a safe place for a time before it goes bad. You must face what lies beyond the doors. It’s different, it’s unknown, but it’s freedom. You just have to allow yourself to take the first step.
I am not lost. I am not trapped in a cage. I am just grieving. After every storm, there is a sun. Maybe not right away, but it always comes. Sometimes you just have to wait. Be patient with yourself during this wait. Learn something about yourself during this wait and leave a stronger person. This season does not define you.
Whether you are postpartum or grieving, make sure lines of communication stay open so people can help. I have learned to go back to the community that has always been beside me. I have learned to reach out and to not allow my circumstances to become a cage. I make sure my people always know where to find me.
This story originally appeared on Love What Matter