A few days after the emotional D&C procedure I had for my miscarriage, Ben and I decided that we needed to get away. So, after 48 hours on the couch at home bingeing on Netflix, we packed an overnight bag and headed to the coast. We were aching to be close to the water and to be away from our usual environment where pain was thick in the air. For our wedding, our beautiful friends gifted us a voucher for Polperro, a winery on the Mornington Peninsula. Now that I could suddenly and unexpectedly drink wine, it was the perfect time to use it. We wanted to escape, indulge and do what felt good. Also, now that the miscarriage was over, we wanted to say goodbye to the baby.
Saying goodbye after pregnancy loss:
Once we were on the peninsula, we made a pit stop at the Red Hill Cellar and Pantry for coffee (goodbye decaf) and to grab a few things for dinner (hello cured meats and soft cheese).
I’d booked a table at the winery’s restaurant for lunch but we arrived early so did some wine tasting at the cellar door. Even though it was only a couple of days after my surgery, this wasn’t my first taste of wine. On the day the missed miscarriage was confirmed, we headed over to our friends’ home and you better believe that we drank more than a few glasses together that night. It felt weird to drink wine again. When I sipped my glass, I was sad because I so wished I couldn’t drink it because I was pregnant. At the same time though, I do love wine so I guiltily enjoyed drinking it nonetheless.
We had the most delicious, three-course lunch. We ordered everything that looked good with matched wines and no regard for the price. Afterwards, we wandered down to our boutique villa and settled in. The space was lovely with a plush, king-sized bed, sunken spa, log fire and verandah overlooking the vines, just metres away. We spent the afternoon wrapped in blankets, reading and sipping (more) pinot noir and watched the thunderstorms roll in. It was the first time I’d felt calm and still since receiving the news that this baby wasn’t meant to be.
Come evening, Ben got the fire going and prepared our dinner antipasti board. We went to bed early, exhausted from the past week and sleepy from the wine.
But it wasn’t a restful night. I laid awake for hours, my heart beating fast and an invisible brick sitting atop my chest. Although I suffered from anxiety a few years ago, it hadn’t reared its ugly head in a long while. Now I felt its familiar, unwelcome presence once more. I think I was still dealing with the trauma from the hospital experience a few days ago. My mind kept flashing back to seeing those stirrups attached to the operating table. I couldn’t help imagining what happened during the 25 minutes I was out cold. I kept picturing my body being worked on as if I was outside myself, looking in from the corner of the operating theatre, like an observer. I imagined my feet going into the stirrups once I was unconscious, imagined what the doctors then did to me. It was lost time and it was screwing with my head.
Eventually, close to 2am, I fell asleep so we took it slowly the following morning. We sipped coffee and ate breakfast, which was left for us in the room. As the clock ticked closer and closer to 11am when we had to leave, I felt a growing sense of dread. We were going to the ocean that morning to say goodbye to the baby. The brick was getting heavier on my chest.
But when we got there and I heard the wild waves crashing and smelled the salty air, a sense of calm washed over me. Hand in hand, we made our way down onto the sand. It was pouring with rain which kind of felt appropriate. Arms around each other and with tears in our eyes, we gazed out at the stormy sea and said our goodbyes.
It felt right to be there, down by the ocean, saying goodbye. After all, this is where life began, this is where we all came from. I wonder if this is why being close to the sea always feels like going home.
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. – Isak Dinesen
Just when we were about to turn away, Ben shouted, ‘Look!’ and pointed out to the water. There, just beyond the breaking waves were a pair of dolphins. They were so close, I could barely believe my eyes. My heart grew a little bigger in that moment and I just thought, Wow. This world is amazing. I expected them to swim off and was so surprised when they didn’t. They stayed right near us for about 15 minutes, slowly and gracefully bobbing up and down just beneath the surface. I can’t help but feel like they knew we were there and they were sending us a little message of hope and comfort. They were reminding us that even on the darkest of days there is beauty and magic in this world if you just look a little closer.
Despite the dread and anxiety I’d felt before going there, I now walked away feeling at peace. After seeing those dolphins, I just had a feeling, deep deep down, that everything was going to be okay.
Coming back home afterwards, I bought a box to store all the beautiful, pregnancy memories that became so special to us in the short time this baby was with us. I got the idea from this podcast segment. Inside I placed the pregnancy tests I took (four – I didn’t believe it was real at first), some precious photos, an ultrasound image from when we first saw the lentil-sized baby on the screen (the technician never gave us a photo to take home so I cut an image from the film), my journal pages and a few other bits and pieces. Because we had nothing tangible to mourn, it felt important to gather together these few reminders that this little life was still very real.
Only after we’d done all of these things did I feel like I could start focusing on healing. There was a lot that needed to be healed, both in my heart and my body. But from this moment on, I noticed that we started to look forward more often than back. And that was a step in the right direction.
If you’d like to read more about my miscarriage, you can do so here:
- Miscarriage: A Jumbled Mess of Thoughts and Feelings
- What it’s Like to Have a D&C for a Miscarriage: My Hospital Story
- What NOT to Say to Someone After a Miscarriage
Have you ever had to say goodbye after pregnancy loss? Please know that you can always reach out. A burden shared is a burden halved.