how i blamed myself

After a miscarriage, it’s common to feel guilty and culpable for the loss. Wonder what horrible thing we did wrong; the alcohol we had before the positive test, the exercise we shouldn’t have done. But I didn’t feel like I caused my miscarriages. I had been so conscientious, so careful about everything I ate and did. I researched everything there was to know about pregnancy, and erred on the side of caution with my every move. And I knew rationally the causes were likely something that was beyond my control. But as I peeled back the layers, through therapy, and through my own reflection, I realized I had been unconsciously blaming myself all along. 

I realized I thought I caused my miscarriages by obsessively wanting to get pregnant.

I didn’t allow pregnancy just to happen organically. I have always been a planner, and had this planned to a T, with all my pregnancy tools in place. I waited exactly three months after starting my new job to start trying, to ensure I would receive full maternity leave benefits. I made sure to take three full months of prenatals and folic acid. I was armed with my ovulation predictor kits, my basal body thermometers, Pre-seed, and my VIP membership to Fertility Friend. I had read Taking Charge of Your Fertility cover to cover, and had all the important sections bookmarked and highlighted.

And poof, within three months I was knocked up. 

All according to plan. 

But of course, we know it didn’t go according to plan. My miscarriages turned my world upside down. 

My best friend, a free-spirited non-planner, also got pregnant at the same time I did. She got pregnant on the first try, and was even somewhat ambivalent about the pregnancy in the first place. She did not miscarry. 

I felt like the universe was trying to teach me a lesson. See what your obsessive planning leads to? See how you can’t control everything? If you had been more relaxed about this process and wanted it less, like your friend, everything would have been fine. I finally found a way to blame myself.

Subconsciously, I thought if I had been more relaxed and taken my time with the process, we might have gotten a better egg, or a healthier embryo. Somehow in my rush I had sacrificed quality. And even though rationally I knew that didn’t make any sense, I still believed it for a long time.

A few months after our second loss, my husband and I had breakfast with a friend, a resident at UCLA hospital. He knew through his fiancé what we had been through, and brought it up, offering condolences. I had been used to so much silence around the subject, that I was surprised, but also really appreciative. He spoke a lot, about the medical aspect of it, about some of the situations he had seen. But then he said something that kneaded my gut. “What you really just want to do is just live your life, and when it happens it happens,” he said with a smile and a shrug.

The opposite of what I felt I had done. I had obsessed and made my whole world about having a baby. Everything else in my life was secondary. How I wished I could be that person, that lived such a relaxed, fulfilled life, that getting pregnant would just be a happy, easy, side-occurrence one day. But I wasn’t. And it made me feel so bad.

But then I remembered, this is coming from a guy in his twenties, not even married yet, five years younger than me. He has no idea what this feels like. To crave, with every pulse and every breath, a baby to hold in your arms. The aching longing for motherhood.  When you want something so badly, that it shatters your heart month after month. The devastating pain that infertility and miscarriage causes. He. Has. No. Idea. 

With this realization, I let go of the self-blame. I know now that all I ever did was chase the thing I want most in the world right now.

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