When the doctor called to inform me in February of 2018 that my blood work indicated I was going to miscarry, I was immediately embarrassed.
Why had I gotten excited, or shared the news with our family and close friends? Why had I for a brief second been so naive that this would work? I beat myself up for days about how stupid it had been to get excited.
I moved to the couch and didn’t move for eight days. I binge watched Queer Eye and googled one million articles about loss and fertility. I survived on Costco frozen pizzas. It had taken me 14 months to get pregnant that first time, and in a matter of weeks it was over. And I was so pissed.
I learned my embarrassment came from something way more hard to deal with - true, absolute, gut wrenching grief. A grief that I had never felt before. It was fueled by so much anger. Anger at my body, which is a difficult type of relationship to navigate. And rather than work through any of it or realize that it was totally normal, I instead shut down and tried to push it all away.
Immediately my friends wanted to circle the wagons. I kept everyone at bay. I was too proud to share that I needed help. I thought to myself that I could do it alone. I would respond to texts offering to come by and sit with me that I was ‘doing fine’ and would ‘be back in no time’. My friends who ignored my requests left food on the porch when I wouldn’t answer my door.
Fast forward six months. Another loss. And even though it was ‘earlier’ in the process than the last - it felt like Groundhog Day. The labs, the waiting, but this time I was wrecked in a new way. It was like the scab had been ripped from a wound that still wasn’t healed. And suddenly, I couldn’t function.
My best friends flew in to help me, I answered the door for anyone who had food, or a shoulder to cry on, or who offered to do something for me. I finally accepted the hands reaching out to pull me back up. In my pit of despair they were waiting up there, just over the edge, shouting out “let me help you, let me carry this for a while” and when I put my pride aside, I grabbed them and they saved me.
My job requires me to be ‘on’ quite often in front of groups. So many of the events in the days that followed my losses are complete blurs to me. The only way I made it to some of them is because of my best friends who drove me there, set up all our stuff, and were the ‘fixers’ in my time of crisis.
I find ‘go-getter’ women have the hardest time with asking for or accepting help. I run and own a successful business, employ a small team, and manage our small farm. I’m the one typically hosting events, organizing groups, and dropping off the casseroles and helping wherever needed. When someone needs something - I fix it. But why was it so damn hard when it was my turn? Pride? Ego? It's all wrapped up in there somewhere.
I also at this time found myself a therapist who specializes in fertility, loss, postpartum and pregnancy support. August felt like the straw that broke the camel's back. I was in therapy weekly, and finally taking everyone up on their offer to help.
In November, pregnant again, we found out it was ectopic and would require emergency surgery to remove it. Like, you’re at the doctor’s office checking on things and suddenly they are telling you to head to the hospital.
I woke up from surgery calm. Surprisingly calm. Glad it was over. And ready to grab those hands again. Ready to be comfortable with accepting the support my squad was offering me. That loss, while hard as well, felt different because I had learned how to grab those hands reaching out. I had finally gotten over my own ego and realized that we cannot do life alone.
Food, errands, playing with the dogs, helping clean out a weird part of our scary barn - our family and friends were there every second to help me rest and forget about everything for a while.
My husband is an incredible partner, and the one I choose time and time again to go through every moment of life with, but you need your family and friends too. Women especially need their female circle.
I found that my friends who had kids, or who had experienced loss, they felt my losses as their own. And while I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, having someone look you in the eyes and say “I get it” makes all the difference.
Chances are in your lifetime you are going to weather some kind of storm. A really bad one. One that seems never ending. It’ll seem like your life will never be normal again, or you’ll never get over it. One of the worst most rarely discussed parts about grief is how it changes you - and while I mourn the person I was before our losses, I don’t miss her. One thing I learned from reaching out to grab the hands offering to help me was how tough I was, how much support we require as humans and how you are never truly alone.
Another weird bonus to the toughest year of my life was learning exactly how tough I am. You see, 18 months ago if someone would have asked me if I was tough, I would have chuckled and smiled, “of course.” But I had no idea. And while no one desires to be shown their toughest side in crisis, it has armed me with an incredibly deep self confidence I never knew I had.
And that tough girl needed people. She’s still tough with her friends. In fact, they made her even tougher and softer and way healthier.
So maybe it's fertility, or death, or illness, or something big and scary and terrible and it brings on the ‘little black cloud’ that seems to follow you everywhere. Whatever it is, find the hands reaching out. They are there. Grab them. And don’t let go.
About the Author:
Kalin Sheick is an award-winning floral designer in northern Michigan. She and her husband own a small lavender farm where they host intimate events. When she's not flowering for an average of 75 events a year, she's in the kitchen cooking, spending time with her dogs, and posting farm adventures on Instagram.