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MisCarry Me

Content warning: This essay contains graphic depictions of miscarriage and blood loss.


October 13, 2015, will forever be etched in my mind.  

I thought it would be a day like any other, but it became a whirlwind that shook me to my very core. On the surface, it was one of the most chaotic days that I have ever experienced. Yet, in hindsight, it was orderly and divinely purposeful.  

I was about seven weeks pregnant with our third child. I woke up around 5:30 a.m. to the usual nausea that had lingered well into the sixth month of my previous pregnancies. Here we go again, I thought. But soon I experienced sharp pain in my belly. As the pain grew more and more intense, I knew something was wrong. But seeing my doctor meant that I would have to face the reality of his diagnosis. I was not ready for that. 

Before long, I began to feel lightheaded. Concerned that I was going to faint, I whispered a prayer to God, asking Him to help me get my son to daycare so I could come back home and elevate my feet. I believed I just needed a little rest. 

At the daycare, his teacher sensed something was wrong and asked if I was okay.  I told her that I was not feeling well.  She asked me to have a seat; I declined and told her that I just wanted to go home. Instead, she put both of her hands on my arms and led me to a chair. Still feeling lightheaded, I did not have the strength to resist, so I grudgingly complied. She had someone call my husband, then she rubbed my back as I sat in the lobby of the daycare weeping. 

When my husband arrived, my son’s teacher followed us to his car.  Once I was seated, she stood inside of the open door so that it could not be closed.  She looked me directly in my eyes and said, “I know you want to go home, but I really think you need to go to the hospital.” I’d been running from reality all morning, but there in the passenger seat, I came face-to-face with what I knew to be true, this was the end. I called the doctor’s office and scheduled an immediate appointment. Once there, a doctor examined me. He was pretty sure the pregnancy was ectopic and the fallopian tube had ruptured, but he could not say with certainty because there was so much blood on the ultrasound. The pregnancy that I longed for was over, and I was immediately taken to the hospital for emergency surgery.  

***

October 13, 2015, was supposed to be a day like any other, but by noon I was in the operating room.  

When my doctor did his rounds later that day, what he told me still takes my breath away — and it’s been six years. My blood pressure dropped significantly. When the doctor made the incision, blood spewed from my belly so much that I almost needed a transfusion. The doctor said I had been bleeding internally for over six hours. If I had gone home and gotten into bed like I wanted to, I would have hemorrhaged to death and died. Knowing how close I came to my husband and sons coming home to find my corpse stirred up emotions that I am not even able to communicate to this day.  

The road to recovery went beyond needing physical healing. I silently cried out to God, pleading with Him to help me get through the anguish and the unanswered questions. Not only was I carrying sorrow, but also this facade and fear of admitting that I was not okay. 

While my husband went to work and the boys went to daycare, I stayed at home and allowed the silence and the grief to take me to very unhealthy places.  I wondered why this happened, why I had scar tissue that disrupted the baby’s path to my uterus, and why the extent of the baby’s life was reduced to being thrown out with the medical waste. When my family came home at the end of the day, I acted as though the only pain I was experiencing was physical. I had no idea that I was fighting against the help that I had been praying for.

In 2016, I became pregnant for the fourth time.  And although all was well for about eight weeks, I miscarried again.   

At this point, I gave up; I officially threw in the towel. I told my doctor I wanted to be on birth control because I didn’t think I could bear another loss. I took it and, thankfully, it did not do its job. In 2017, I gave birth to our third child, my fifth pregnancy, my sweet baby girl.  

I’ve heard it said that we live life forward but understand it backwards. October 13th spun out of control right before my eyes. But now, looking back on that day, I see the hand of God in the midst of the turmoil. I see how He carried me. I see my steps being ordered, placing me in front of the right person to hear words of wisdom that I desperately needed. I see how I was able to make it to the hospital before an emergency situation became a fatal one. I see, indeed, that He carried me.

One day I will tell my children about the siblings they never met. I will tell them about a teacher that God used to save my life. I will tell them how I limped through the pain and encourage them not to cover it up the way I did. I will tell them that life always has purpose, no matter how short.

To the women who have experienced this loss, this heartache and this heaviness: I know you hoped that things would have turned out differently, but take comfort in knowing that your unborn child never had to experience hurt or disappointment or judgment or injustice. They are forever in a state of peace. Your grief is your own and it’s real. It’s okay to let the process take as long as it takes. You are not alone and there is always hope. Blessing upon blessings to you.


Promises for You is a column that gives voice and space to those who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and child loss at any age. We need open conversations on a continuous basis to dispel shame, give room to grief, and nurture understanding.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Raising Mothers, please consider making a one-time or recurring contribution to help us remain ad-free. If even a fraction of subscribers signed up to contribute $1 per month, Raising Mothers could be self-sustaining!

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Swati Khurana | Mama’s Writing

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.


What fictional mother gets on your nerves? 

In Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy, Mrs. Rupa Mehra is an insufferable mother. She is a widow, the mother of Arun, Savita, Varun, and the dear young, romantic, yet single college girl Lata. Rupa Mehra is consumed with Lata’s marriage, an all-encompassing obsession (spoiler…) that encourages her daughter to choose suitability over a sweeping love. Rupa Mehra shows us that gender has nothing to do with who is an agent of the patriarchy and how matrimony may be the thing that actually kills love. 

What real-life mother do you admire in your community? What attributes do they have that inspire you?

My dear friend Racheal is such an inspiration to me. She has been a professor of and thinker on social psychology. She’s so generous! She mentored me as a new parent in my daughter’s school community and always has an ear to help me problem-solve and talk through social situations. She is really justice-oriented, as she engages in tough conversations, does anti-racism solidarity work, and talks openly about sexism. She recently was diagnosed with glioblastoma, and she has been sharing the most detailed and brutally honest writing with her friends and supporters — a memoir she is writing. Through her grace, she has created a community of care with us. She inspires me to be braver as a parent, to be more engaged in conversations, and she’s also really fun to hang out with, and has an incredible sense of style and great musical taste! She truly encourages me to find joy and beauty everyday in a world that is broken, but also beautiful.

What are three words your kid(s) would use to describe you?

I asked her, and she said: intelligent, funny, “mom-like.”

What’s the best motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten?

My daughter was born a month before Mother’s Day, and my dear friend Chaumtoli Huq (mother of two) sent me a card to remind me to celebrate myself.  Pumping and struggling with breastfeeding, I was feeling myself slowly disappear, and this letter was a profound gift. As hard as it is, I try to create an opportunity on my birthday and sometime near Mother’s Day (I work on Sundays!) to celebrate myself. 

Knowing that your child will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?

A piece I published on my 12-year journey with vaginismus was published online under my “married name” — a name I don’t officially use as I kept my birth name (BTW, Can we retire “maiden name?”) Another very intimate piece where I talked about mental illness was published only in print. My goal is to have revealing conversations with my child that set the stage before she finds out things from Googling. Most of my writing is online, but I hold a few pieces on some topics closer to the chest. 

How does engaging with your child creatively influence your own creative process?

There are moments when I see a through-line when I feel myself becoming more playful. Even at the age of two, my daughter was the most prolific writer I know. She asks me: “Can we walk and walk, and I can tell you about my game?” That “game” is an elaborate story, a novel outline, character traits, a few scenes, with dialogue. Even during the pandemic, during her few Facetime playdates, she has writers’ rooms with her friends, one where they started a novel through a character spreadsheet; another is a TV series. When I see her play, I am reminded how fun writing can be. 

Was there a noticeable shift in your writing before and after parenthood? If yes, how so?

Before I was a parent, I hardly wrote. I was a visual artist in a shared studio, and when I discovered I was pregnant, I had to leave the studio because of the chemicals used by my studiomates. I also had an ethical crisis with the art market and the collector model which propelled my departure from the art world. I began writing during my pregnancy and kept on writing after, slowly taking it more seriously.

I was exhausted, back to work after 2 months of maternity leave with a family of four to support, and I felt like I was making all the wrong choices. Why couldn’t I wait until my kid was in kindergarten to have a creative life again? I remember this one moment, when my kid was just a toddler, I was managing the last few exhibitions and some writing deadlines, and I wished I could be “normal” by not having the appetite to create like an art monster. I fantasized about a “normal” working mom who goes to things like happy hours, maybe even a leisure book club, not a book to read for homework or an author interview or book review. Someone who goes on girls’ trips, and isn’t trying to finagle everything she can to go to a writers’ conference for 36 hours. What would it be like to be a mom like that, to be a mom with mom friends who were not art monsters? Would it be really fun and relaxing? 

And then I reacquainted myself with a painter-mom who has a teen son and saw how curious, motivated, self-possessed, and confident he was. We talked about his childhood and he watched his mom work and talk to artists. I realized that artist moms who are also working moms, raise wonderful children. I thought I was doing a disservice to my child to be consumed by creating. Instead, I am a better mom when I am happy, purpose-filled, and curious. 

Now, after over a year during the global pandemic, being well into middle age, with a stronger writing practice that I incorporated into parenting and my other responsibilities, I am trying to figure out how to take real breaks, even from our art monstering. Time became more seamless with the pandemic, and for a while I mustered intensely and relentlessly using the time I wasn’t commuting — until I realized that I needed breaks and to breathe, to really enjoy the wonder that my child is, and that there actually is so much time to create, that there needs to be time to just be.


Swati Khurana is a New York-based writer, artist, arts organizer, and Tarot reader. She is AAWW The Margins’ flash fiction editor, and is currently writing a scripted audio series set in 1990s NYC and 1940s Lahore, and developing her podcast “Tarot For Us” which uses Tarot readings to have conversations, centering BIPOC women and non-binary artists, writers, and activists. Swati’s writing has been featured in The New York Times, Guernica, Apogee, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Offing, The Rumpus, the anthology Good Girls Marry Doctors, the Asian American Literary Review’s Book of Curses, and as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2019.  You can follow Swati on Instagram at @tarotbooksradio or at  www.swatikhurana.com

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2021 Best of the Net nominations!

After 6 years it’s our first time entering competitions and I wish the best for each nominee. It feels exceptional because how many literary spaces focus only on Black and brown parent writers talking about that subject? I hope they all place and it was extremely difficult to choose coming off this past year.

It was incredibly difficult to choose—but we’re pleased to finally announce our nominees for Best of the Net 2021!

Poetry

Fiction

Nonfiction

Help us congratulate them all!

3 Weeks and 2 Days Late

I’d like to say, “Good Morning,”
but is it good?
It came.
Crept in, burst through in the obscurity of night.
A red, heavy, forceful rupture.

1 week: inconsequential.
2 weeks: a spark of maybe, hushed tones of probably not, but fingers crossed.
3 weeks: the joy of what if seeping in. Imagining your hands caressing a growing belly, the way you’ll tell your son, your husband.
3 weeks and 1 day: a smile, guard coming down, believing maybe. Maybe, it really did happen.
3 weeks and 2 days: a rupture.

How does one explain an experience both sanguine and dubious?
Every month, every week, 
every 
single 
day,
listening for clues, hints, inklings, gut checks.
Any implication the body may deliver—
sore breasts, backaches, headaches, a heightened sense of smell.
Is that nausea, fatigue— what does it mean? 
Even spotting keeps reality at bay. 
What color is it, could it be implantation—who am I kidding?
Body remind me,
what gave you away 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9 years ago now when I first knew it was more than just me that grew?

How does one explain the barrage of so much well-intentioned advice?
Usually starts with sex.
Have lots,
or have it in certain time slots.
What about
acupuncture,
herbal medicine,
did you drink the teas?
Have you tried Clomid or Letrozole?
If you stop trying it will just happen.
Don’t stop trying. A friend of a friend said this doctor is the best.
2nd opinion, then a 3rd and a 4th.
Legs in so many stirrups,
IUI,
IVF,
Track days, temperature, food—
are you wearing socks on your feet?
More romance less science, more science less romance.
If it is in God’s will.
Have you thought about adoption?

How does one explain the absence of clarity?
Is it him, the cancer,
me?
Mysterious piece of my womanhood
broken.
The name is even without fanfare simply,
secondary infertility and
we don’t exactly know why, but
have you both been tested?

How does one explain the unseen,
the unheard, but never unrelenting?
Pain that reminds,
that questions,
that throbs through
your knees to your fingertips, in the edges of your eyes, and meets the depths of your soul.
Pain that reverberates 
in the mundane,
in the hair brushing, dinner making, bedtime snuggling, laundry folding,
in the walking, the eating, the driving, the coffee pouring, the breathing.
Pain that accuses
at every rounded bump you spot,
at every pink and blue announcement,
at the showers, the sprinkles, the gender reveals, the meal train emails.
Pain that exposes 
the missing,
the knowing,
no, the feeling of
arms,
heart,
womb—
ready,
waiting,
empty.

How does one explain the duality of being?
The desire to forgo, to reject all hope.
Let me live on an island of apathy and I don’t care.
Let me inhabit a place of knowing, not anticipating.
Let me hide in my barren cave.
Let me reside indifferent, emptied, accepting what will never be.
And yet, no matter how loud I scream or how hard I push,
hope
won’t
relinquish 
me.

How does one explain this bittersweet dance?
The difference a day makes,
a morning not good.
3 weeks and 2 days arrive.

How does one explain grieving without ceremony?
The death of
a world,
a wish,
a dream
and birthing hope for another.


Promises for You is a column that gives voice and space to those who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and child loss at any age. We need open conversations on a continuous basis to dispel shame, give room to grief, and nurture understanding.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Raising Mothers, please consider making a one-time or recurring contribution to help us remain ad-free. If even a fraction of subscribers signed up to contribute $1 per month, Raising Mothers could be self-sustaining!

Support Raising Mothers

Mama’s Writing | Tyrese Coleman

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.


What’s the best motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten?

The funny thing is that any advice I’ve ever gotten about being a mother or about motherhood has gone through one ear and out the other for me. My children were one pound each when they were born. Sometime during their NICU stay, I stopped listening to anything anyone else had to say about parenting because it felt like no one had gone through anything like what I was going through. So, I realized that advice is relative, not necessarily useful, and mostly just platitudes.   

How has motherhood shaped your priorities?

I’ve always been independent and selfish. Motherhood has made me put someone, or rather others because I have twins, first and think of them more than I think of myself. My priorities are shaped around them and their needs. It’s honestly one of the hardest things I’ve had to accommodate because it’s not in my nature, but kids change you. You may not want them to, but you have to.

What’s your least favorite thing about being a mother?

The [loss of] freedom I had when I was childless. I miss being able to get up and go and do what I want without consequences or considering others. Again, it’s an adjustment and I’ve resigned to the fact that I can no longer do that.

What three words describe you as a mother?

goofy, affectionate, impatient 

What three words describe you as a writer?

adventurous, slow, self-centered (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) 

Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?  

It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think that anything that I write will be a surprise for them about me when they are old enough to understand. One thing I think I’ve tried to be is honest, and I plan to continue being that way as they grow.

What’s the secret to surviving motherhood?

Wine… (I know…that’s so cliché, but things are cliché because they’re true.)


Tyrese L. Coleman is the author of How to Sit, a 2019 Pen Open Book Award finalist published with Mason Jar Press in 2018. She is also the writer of the forthcoming book, Spectacle, with One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor, she is a contributing editor at Split Lip Magazine and occasionally teaches at American University. Her essays and stories have appeared in several publications and noted in Best American Essays and the Pushcart Anthology. She is an alumni of the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. Find her at tyresecoleman.com or on twitter @tylachelleco.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Raising Mothers, please consider making a one-time or recurring contribution to help us remain ad-free. If even a fraction of subscribers signed up to contribute $1 per month, Raising Mothers could be self-sustaining!

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