Last year at this time, I was finishing up a month in India practicing yoga with Saraswathi Jois in Mysore. John and I were packing up the apartment we called home while we were there and saying our final good byes to friends. Our 3 year old, Lorraine, was going home with what we hoped would be lasting impressions from her experiences there, and more than a few super cute outfits! And, I was pregnant…
I have always fallen into the “late bloomer” category, but nothing bloomed later in me than the desire to get married and have a family. I was a wild teenager, a confused college student, took on the world in my early 20s, collapsed under the weight of the world in my late 20s, pooled my life’s passion into a career in my 30s, and poured every ounce of my energy into that work as a yoga teacher and studio owner from then on. Even though I had been engaged along the way, it really wasn’t until I started dating John, now my husband, when I was 38 years old that marriage truly felt like a reality. There was a certainty to our relationship from the first date. We talked about marriage and we talked about kids. I wasn’t feeling any pressure to have children, but there was something about being with John that made me comfortable talking about starting a family, and we even discussed adoption and fostering. If you know us, we are those kind of people!
After we had Lorraine in 2012, I was shocked at how many people were “on” me right away with nagging questions like, “are you going to have more?” or “do you want to try for a boy next?” I squeaked out a natural, healthy amazing baby at age 41 and it was the pinnacle of my life — but it didn’t seem to be enough! Another one? I noticed as these questions continued, from friends, acquaintances on my Facebook page, and even from absolute strangers, that I was kind of smiling and brushing it off, but John… John was interested.
When you have a new baby you can be baby crazy. You are so in love and your hormones are all over the map. In my experience, I was surprised at how naturally I took to being a Mom. I felt great and got my organizational systems locked-in, was working, meeting new “Mom” friends, and I loved taking care of Lorraine. We agreed to try again. And we got pregnant! And I miscarried. And we got pregnant again! And, keep in mind I’m almost 43 at this point, and I miscarried again. I was able to get pregnant three more times, but unable to sustain the pregnancy. The 5th time I miscarried at 11 weeks and it was one of the most emotionally and physically traumatic experiences of my life. In addition to my husband, who mainly had to take care of Lorraine while I was miscarrying, I am eternally grateful for the support of friends at The Chopra Center who kept me afloat during this dark time with their kindness and Ayurvedic routines. I was in unspeakable physical pain, ravaged by blood loss, and going through hormonal swings that made me so, so terribly sad that I told John that I absolutely couldn’t go through it again. I sought wisdom from the systems I believe in, mainly Ayurveda and Meditation. I had everything I needed to feel fulfilled, happy, and peaceful. I felt called to honor the seasons of my body. Look, no matter how well you hold it together on the outside, the years are ticking by on the inside, and although I do believe in miracles and everyone is different, when I listened to MY own insides, they said, “we are done!” And that was OK with me. I worried if it would be OK with John.
It wasn’t really. He wanted to keep trying. I reminded him roughly in a moment of frustration that he was no spring chicken either and if he wanted a big family he could have started a few decades earlier, too. This is not just on me. I reminded him of the toll the process was taking on my body and was a little jealous that he still had all that juicy energy that had been sucked right out of me. It was hard on our relationship. The truth is, if I had started having kids 10 years earlier and realized how much I love being a Mom, I would have fewer yoga studios and more children. But I couldn’t have done things any differently, and I wouldn’t change anything now even if I had the chance.
There’s a lot of talk in Mysore, India about “Mysore Magic.” Mostly people are referring to the amazing progress made when practicing yoga there, the postures able to be attained in the Shala that somehow cannot be done again upon returning home, and things of that nature. When I took test after test and kept seeing the “+” appear, the look on John’s face was pure magic, and like all happily, newly pregnant couples, we blissed out and giggled a lot and stared lovingly at each other for the next few weeks, swooning in our secret. We came back from our trip and many things awaited us at home like jet lag, some stressful work related situations that needed tending to, the struggle of getting Lorraine back into a routine, but also the comfort of home and fun reunions with family and friends. The days were filled with things to do, and at night we would whisper about things like what color to paint the nursery and baby names…
What we didn’t expect, and I know I should have after losing so many pregnancies before, was another miscarriage on the very day of my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. I wish I could say it was any less painful, any less devastating, any easier in any way because I had been through it before or because I at least already have my dear little girl, but it’s just hard. At the time, it just hurts deep inside. When the heart breaks, there is nothing else but the breaking. The landscape you looked out on the day before shatters like the mirage it was, and a heaviness settles into your cells. The ghosts of all your demons come to call, reminding you of everything you have worked so hard to stop believing about yourself. I felt lonely, foolish, old, and broken. I had 3 girlfriends who got pregnant just around this time and my happiness for them was mixed with a lot of my own grief. I found myself avoiding them, scrolling quickly past their posts, and trying to distract myself from their adorable stories about feeling fat and doctor visits and decorating plans. It was difficult to practice yoga, go to work, socialize, or even stand up long enough to take a shower. We had only told a few people of course, so mostly I suffered in silence, quietly responded to questions from people at work, and mourned alone. Last week John said, “This time last year we were getting ready to leave India,” and it all came rushing back. Grief can come back like a tidal wave. Letting it pass is a process, and a practice.
When something extremely dramatic, painful, or damaging in some way is happening, there is the tendency is to get wrapped up in a self-centered perspective and only focus on what is happening “to me” and forget that we are all connected. All of our experiences, high and low, are woven together. The pain you feel today is a point on a line that is similar to someone else’s pain of yesterday, or tomorrow. The laughter you share with a friend over dinner tonight echoes back to times we sat around fires outside of caves under the stars sharing stories constructed perhaps of fewer words but being of no lighter weight. This story as part of the story of my life is one I know many of my sisters tell in similar ways, although each unique in experience and personal struggle. It connects me to them, and it strengthened my bond with my husband, too. Our loss after Mysore and the grief I still carry won’t be the biggest challenge of our relationship. As it turned out, though, my last miscarriage was the catalyst for a revelation that would make our future together much, much more interesting… and that story, I will save for another time.