We lay on our bed, heartbroken, the room dimly lit by our bedside lamps. Dark descended so quickly that evening. The grey skies and rain mirrored the sinking sense of melancholy that enveloped us. Just a few weeks earlier, we had been overjoyed to learn that after almost seven years of struggling to conceive, and a few miscarriages along the way, I was finally pregnant again. Now, once again, we were devastated. Our first prenatal scan earlier that day had revealed that it was an ectopic pregnancy. My baby had implanted in my right fallopian tube. The tube had ruptured; I was bleeding internally and would need to have a surgery that would mean losing both my baby and my fallopian tube.
We were unsure what to do with the news. So, we did the responsible thing. I called my mom to let her know. My husband called his mother first, and then his best friend. I sent a message to a handful of my closest friends. I figured it was the considerate thing to do, so that they would understand if I was not myself for a while. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. I turned my phone to silent and set it aside.
Moments later, something so unexpected happened. There was a buzz at our front gate. We hadn’t been expecting anyone to visit. Just minutes after I sent the message, my friend, someone who had become a close soul sister in the short space of three years, showed up at my house. I was taken aback. I hadn’t asked for her to be there, but there she was. I went to the bathroom to clean myself up while my husband welcomed her in. I took a few moments to ground myself, still uncertain how to move through this unfamiliar territory. When I joined them in the living room, she greeted me with a hug, the long, warm, and heartfelt kind that made me feel held and supported in a way that few people other than my husband have ever made me feel. She’s always been a great hugger. My tension eased, along with the unsureness of myself, the uncertainty of how I was supposed to be or act in my moment of vulnerability. I felt her love and compassion. Tears flowed down my face in overwhelm.
She must have offered words of sympathy and encouragement, though I don’t remember what she said. What I do remember is this – the love that I felt and how much it meant for someone to reach beyond the awkwardness and show up in such a meaningful way. The truth is that no one ever knows what to do or what to say to you when you’re going through a trauma or experiencing a loss. It’s always an uncomfortable situation, especially since, as the person going through the experience, you yourself don’t know how to be, either. The instinct is to withdraw, to create distance between ourselves and what we have to face. We put up a wall to shield ourselves and keep the people around us out because it feels easier.
I was, and remain, deeply touched by her bravery and willingness to compassionately offer her support in the way that she did. I’d feared the embarrassment of breaking down and crying in front of my friend, my failure to sustain yet another pregnancy laid bare for all to see. Yet there, in the throes of emotion, I felt unexpectedly comforted. Somehow, in her presence, something in me softened, my defenses lowered, and I sensed myself surrender a little. I was unable to disguise my pain, unable to control what was happening or how it looked from the outside. Accepting that I couldn’t fight the inevitable felt a lot like defeat, but there was nothing I could do but just be where I was. It hurt deeply, and I didn’t need to hide that. I didn’t need to know how I was going to piece myself back together again at the moment. I just needed to allow myself to be supported.
Shortly before she left, I remember her saying: “Love you always,” a simple phrase that went straight to my heart. Those words had become our signoff when we messaged one another, words I’d offered to her on her bad days and during tough times to remind her that she had someone to lean on. They were words meant to reinforce that the depth of our friendship and the value of sisterhood that we’d cultivated could be a source of strength to draw on when curveballs where flung her way. Hearing those words meant everything. There was a long and grueling journey ahead of me, one that required me to navigate the cycles of grief, loss, depression, and post-traumatic stress and anxiety. But there was something really profound about her presence and gentle words that showed me how to be open to accepting love and support, something that I’d end up needing to practice a lot more in the upcoming months as the rest of this difficult journey of recovery of pregnancy loss unfolded.
I can’t fully explain the medicine of sitting in shared company, or why having someone hold my hand and bear witness to my pain made me feel like somehow I’d find the strength to get to the other side of what I was going through, but it did. It didn’t erase the hurt and anger, or stop the tears from flowing, but it made me feel less alone. It was the comfort of knowing that someone was holding space for me at a time when I was at my weakest.
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