Contest #133 shortlist ⭐️

23 comments

Creative Nonfiction Sad American

This story contains sensitive content

(Content warning: pregnancy loss)

The first time you have a miscarriage, your loved ones might send you flowers. You might get a beautiful tree to plant from a loved one who has found peace in her own grief. Someone will send a box of chocolates - the finest ones they could find - with a note that says, “Sending love. Hope this helps.” It doesn’t, but you appreciate the gesture. You’ll take a week off work to grieve. You’ll watch movies without really seeing them, you’ll cry until your face is raw, and you’ll eat every chocolate in that box. Even the ones you hate. Nothing tastes the same anyway. A few times you’ll laugh but you’ll feel guilty about that, which will make you cry again. One night the insomnia will be impossible to overcome, and you’ll give up trying to sleep, opting instead to scrub your kitchen from top to bottom at three in the morning. You’ll need a surgery. Your doctor will solemnly tell you that there was a one in four chance of this happening, but he offers some reassurance that there’s only a one in a hundred chance of it happening again. You’re comforted by this statistic.

The second time you have a miscarriage, it’ll be a little quieter. You weren’t able to get pregnant on your own this time, so this was an IVF pregnancy. You thought for sure the medications and the testing and the monitoring would make a difference. You’ll get a few kind texts: “I’m so sorry.” “I’m here if you need to talk.” “Can I do anything?” You’ll also get a few that mean well, but still sting: “At least you know you can get pregnant.” “At least you’ve been through it before.” “You knew it could happen, so maybe you were better prepared this time.” You need surgery again, so you take a few days off to rest. You watch your regular television shows, you cry a couple of times, and you buy yourself chocolates this time. Your doctor promises to run more tests so this won’t happen again. Next time will be the one. Third time’s a charm. He tells you there was less than a three percent chance of this happening. You are not comforted by this statistic. You wish he’d kept that one to himself. By now, you’ve collected a group of friends that you met in online support groups full of people who have felt your pain, and they will hold you up until you can stand on your own again. You’ll love those people for the rest of your life.

The third time you have a miscarriage, even you don’t know what to say. Some of your loved ones will still send texts, and you’ll be grateful for those. Someone will say “at least it was much earlier this time.” You’ll want to punch that person in the face. For better or worse, most everyone assumes that by now you’re used to it. Maybe you are. Shouldn’t it hurt less, though? This time you don’t even bother taking the day off work. What’s the point? No surgery this time. It’s business as usual. You still cry, but only quietly to yourself, afraid that you don’t deserve to grieve this one. You walk around for a few days in a fog. When the bleeding starts, you breathe a sigh of relief. Finally. The beginning of the end. You toss and turn in your sleep, when you can sleep. You pray, whether you believe in that or not, that this is the last time. You’re so tired. You play the blame game like you always do, despite the doctors and nurses assuring you that it isn’t your fault. Despite your partner telling you they know there’s nothing you could have done. Your friends, the ones who get it, are ever sturdy. They love you as fiercely as always. The burden they carry for you and with you is a gift you can never repay. You’ve never been in the same room, but you’ve been in each other’s hearts for a while now and you can’t imagine your life without them. Your doctor says there will be more tests, more experiments. You’ve only got one more shot. You try not to think about that.

Everywhere you look, people you love are pregnant. Sometimes it was an accident and you’ll feel jealous. Sometimes it was hard fought and preceded by losses of their own, and you’ll feel deeply grateful for their success. You’ll feel hopeful that it will happen for you too. You’ll feel terrified that it won’t. You’ll buy baby shower gifts from the list of things you’ve been dreaming about for years. You’ll donate the samples of formula that the companies keep sending you because they don’t know you aren’t pregnant anymore. You’ll stare in the mirror at your empty belly and wonder if you’ll ever see it grow with new life. You’ll feel cramping and wonder if you’ll ever feel contractions. You’ll see blood and wonder if you’ll ever know what it feels like for your water to break. On particularly hard days, you’ll hear a baby cry in the grocery store and wonder if you’ll ever be comforting your own child in the dairy aisle.

I don’t know what happens the fourth time you have a miscarriage. I hope I never find out. What I do know is that if it happens to you once or twice or ten times, you can be assured that you aren’t alone. You can find the rest of us out there, holding you in our hearts, feeling your pain and carrying your loss no matter what number you’re on. We’ll wrap ourselves around you and we’ll tell you that you’ll be okay, because we know you will. We’ll tell you it’s okay to cry and grieve whether you were four weeks along, or twenty or forty. Whether it was your first loss or the latest in a long line of horrible endings. Whether you have children already or are still hoping for them. We’ll be there. And if you tell me you’re going through it, I’ll send you chocolates, because I know that they don’t fix anything – but I also know they don’t hurt.

Hope this helps.

February 11, 2022 19:54

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23 comments

18:48 Feb 25, 2022

You handled a delicate subject with such grace and dignity. People can be stumbling fools when they are trying to console a person in pain. And we are not in the shoes of the person who had a miscarriage. And one who had one multiple times would be justifiably bitter! It does seem like happy people's joy is amplified when you are at your lowest ebb. I would not even know what to say or do. Perhaps just hold a hand and watch a movie with the person is all they need. Not a gift or words that sting or going out shopping to see more pregnant peo...

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Catelyn Crabtree
13:46 Sep 13, 2022

Haley, thank you so much for writing this. I'm only 14, so I don't personally know what it's like, but my mom does. let's just say if all of her pregnancies were healthy, and all of them survived, I'd have 8 siblings; 7 older, and 1 younger. It was really hard for her, and after she had me, she felt guilty that I would grow up to be an only child. It was lonely at times, but I have my neighbors, June and Sophie, that are like my siblings. I have found that I really look up to June, and he's like my big brother. As for Sophie, I always try to...

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J.C. Lovero
02:38 Mar 02, 2022

Hi Haley, First, thank you for being so vulnerable with this story. The use of 2nd person POV was brilliant here; it felt like having a candid conversation with someone. You legit made me cry with this one line: "You’ll buy baby shower gifts from the list of things you’ve been dreaming about for years." Broke my fragile heart... Congrats on the shortlist. Well-deserved!

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19:10 Feb 27, 2022

I feel your pain. My daughter had difficulty even being in the same room with a pregnant woman after she had a miscarriage. We had to leave a restaurant once. Even though I have counseled many women in this area, it is never easy.

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18:47 Feb 27, 2022

What a wonderful first entry! I love your use of second voice, then how it transitions to first (and I'm typically not a huge fan of second voice!) From someone who has had three miscarriages, a lot of this rings true. I also have had four healthy term pregnancies, and I pray you'll get to experience that as well. I must say, when I read that people send flowers the first time, I was like, 'they do?' I had a few very thoughtful and sensitive friends who were there for me, and then my own mother said, 'well, you're young, you'll get pregna...

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Kayla Keiser
21:55 Mar 09, 2022

Hi Haley, I had a hard time posting this short story. I hope you don't mind enjoying this humorous short story. I don't mind if you share it with anybody. I hope you like. .............................................................................. Short Story: Kids, RESPECT your Elders Written by: Kayla Keiser This a fictional short story. I was in the grocery store buying my juices while I happen to be on my phone checking on my Snapchat. And, while i was hanging out a minute longer in the store. I made some comments. Some kid r...

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Susannah Meghans
07:29 Feb 26, 2022

Such a delicate topic handled gently and realistically. I appreciate the view point. Well written.

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05:30 Feb 25, 2022

Well the kids tag is a little misleading, but I totally get why you used it. The second person narrative is a delicate dance, but I think you nailed it here. Following you, hope to see more!

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Maulana Ibrahim
01:24 Feb 25, 2022

are you sure this is for kids? but still though it's sweet

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Aditi Pattanayak
02:24 Feb 23, 2022

okay so I am 9 years old and this is alot for me to handle. I just wanted a sweet short story to fill put my reading log

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Shea West
03:52 Feb 20, 2022

Hi Haley! It looks like you and I approached this prompt with a similar topic. I've been a doula for a decade now and the things you mention here are quite spot on. What's even more important to mention is that the brave use of 2nd POV is what helps give this story more impact. I know that 2nd POV gets a bad rap at times, but I'm stupidly in love with it. I think if you nail the tone well it's perfection in the written form. My only critique, and it was hard to find one, is-- Break your large paragraphs into smaller paragraphs. It will r...

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Zack Powell
21:52 Feb 19, 2022

Wow! This is devastating. And yet so tenderly-written and beautiful. You had my attention from the first sentence and broke my heart by the end of the piece. The final and last sentences were perfect, holy cow. You approached the subject from such a relatable and approachable angle that, even as a man, I could feel exactly what the narrator felt and thought and experienced. Even more tragic that this is marked as "nonfiction," because it genuinely does feel very raw and real and authentic. Thanks for sharing this, Haley. You have a lot of...

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Haley White
01:49 Feb 20, 2022

Wow, thank you so much Zack! I really appreciate your kind words. Writing this was painful and also healing for me. I’m so honored that it meant something to others!

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Maggie Gibbs
20:10 Feb 19, 2022

Thank you for sharing this. I’ve had many friends who’ve experienced this and I never know what to say or not say, do or not do. Nothing seems adequate enough.

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Haley White
01:50 Feb 20, 2022

It’s so hard to know what to say and when you’re going through it, almost nothing helps. Just letting them know you’re thinking about them means the world, though.

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Hannah Free
20:01 Feb 19, 2022

This is incredible, so beautifully written!

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Haley White
01:50 Feb 20, 2022

Thank you so much Hannah!

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Riel Rosehill
19:45 Feb 19, 2022

This was beautiful and I nearly cried. Chocolates are indeed the best for pain.

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Haley White
01:50 Feb 20, 2022

Thank you Riel!

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Sue Hunter
18:53 Feb 19, 2022

Really touched my heart.

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Haley White
01:51 Feb 20, 2022

That means a lot, thank you!

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Melissa Balick
18:36 Feb 19, 2022

Well done. Great story. Sending love.

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Haley White
01:51 Feb 20, 2022

Thank you so much!

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