You Will Survive by
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Dear 30-Year-Old Laurie,

Losing a pregnancy is a very low time in any woman’s life. I’m writing to tell you that you survived, and you thrived.

Right now, you are feeling devastated because you had an ectopic pregnancy, lost an ovary and fallopian tube, and then had a miscarriage. No one seems to care because you already have a son and a daughter, so you are lucky in their eyes. In fact, you were ambivalent about this pregnancy and are blaming yourself for its loss.

With kids ages four and two, you had just moved to a new house. You told your 4-year-old’s preschool carpool driver to drop him off at a friend’s house because you were staying there and had no car. She forgot. She left your child on the sidewalk in front of the new house and drove off. Unforgivable. It was cold. You panicked and ran several blocks, but your son was not there. Your heart was pounding. You were crying. But your new next-door neighbor saw you and reassured you she was giving your child milk and cookies in her kitchen.

All of that drama couldn’t have helped, right? That same week, with your father visiting from Detroit for business, the miscarriage started. You were making dinner. He was impatient that it wasn’t ready. At the hospital, it was clear that the pregnancy was over. You stayed overnight, and the next day your mother was there. She bought you a leather coat to make you feel better. Your lost pregnancy was “bashert” (Yiddish for destiny), not meant to be.

I know you never wore that coat, but I also know that you did have a third child, another daughter. All in all, you ended up being very lucky. The ten-year break you took from working at a paid job (believe me, I know raising three children was a hard job) was a gift that your own children were unable to have. You thought at one time that your entire life would revolve around being a mother, but they grew up and were much less needy of your attention. Along the way, you found additional purposes in your life. Eventually, you had an amazing career doing work that you loved.

Losing a pregnancy is a very low time in any woman’s life. I’m writing to tell you that, the words of Gloria Gaynor’s song (in a totally different context), released the year after your third child was born, apply to your life after this sad experience.

… I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive

You survived, and you thrived.

Love,
Laurie

 

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. John Shutkin says:

    Such a moving story, Laurie — particularly for someone who did not (and could not) have experienced such a sad loss personally. And such a wise message to your younger self about how it will all turn out.

    And kudos to Suzy for constantly reminding all of us with her song story titles just how evocative they (and the songs themselves) can be of our feelings. You and Gloria got it exactly right!

  2. Ah Laurie, you survived and thrived indeed!

    Years ago my friend B had an ectopic pregnancy and afterwards could not conceive again much to her sorrow. We all have more to be thankful for than we realize, don’t we.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    That is both a heart-breaking and heart-warming letter to your younger self at a low point in your life. Yes, you DID survive and THRIVE. Things did improve for you, but it was difficult to believe it at that moment. I’m glad you are able to have a sense of perspective now and see how well everything turned out, since it all seemed so awful at the time.

    I had something similar, though it was before I had my children, with an ectopic pregnancy followed 9 months later (with the same IUD in place) by an abortion. I was frightened that, if anything went wrong, I might become sterile and never have a chance to have children. We weren’t ready at that point in our lives, we wanted to wait longer and things worked out for us. But decisions like that are difficult and frightening, though in 1982, at least I didn’t have crazies screaming at me (and I wasn’t in an abortion clinic, but in a hospital).

    Before COVID, you’ve had a wonderful, fulfilling life, which I’m sure will resume again. I’m so glad you were able to move past this moment in your life, on to better days.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Betsy, mine was with an IUD as well. Have there been studies to connect those things? The longer story is very painful, as my OB knew something was wrong, thought I had a cyst, and never told me. So I ignored the pain for too long. I was lucky to come out of that as well as I did.

      • Betsy Pfau says:

        I think it depended on the type of IUD. I haven’t followed the science and don’t know what they are doing with IUDs these days. I know the Dalkon Shield was pulled from the market altogether. My problems were with the Lippes Loop.

        I, too, ignored unusual bleeding for a month and was told that the ectopic pregnancy almost burst, which would have been much worse than it was.

        Gracious, sorry to hear that you, too, ignored symptoms and had such awful consequences. But as you said – you did survive!

  4. Marian says:

    Oh, Laurie, I wanted to reach out through the computer and give you and your younger self hugs for this story. I know that pregnancy loss was a taboo subject until recently, and it’s reassuring that at least now women can grieve openly and heal.

  5. You brought a lump to my throat, Laurie. You told the story well, with vivid details. The milk and cookies were a welcome solace after the frantic search for the missing child. I wouldn’t have picked the Gloria Gaynor song–but it’s your letter, not mine. Well done.

  6. I’m touched that you felt comfortable enough to share this “letter” with us, Laurie. I was struck by how you blamed yourself early on…we are so hard on ourselves. Clearly your feelings are still close to the surface…thankfully you’ve had enough time and experience to put them in perspective.

  7. Suzy says:

    Still one of my favorite songs, it got me through a really low period in my life too. I’m so sorry about your loss, Laurie, I had two miscarriages, and I know how bad it feels. And for some reason, the leather coat that you never wore makes me especially sad.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Suzy, I’m so sorry about your losses. Of course, I know exactly how it feels. It’s bad enough to have a miscarriage, but somehow the lack of empathy from others hurt as much. I think most women love that song — perhaps some men just don’t get it. And I gave that coat away pretty quickly, so I hope someone who needed a coat enjoyed it.

  8. What a powerful and moving story. I’m so glad you persevered and had another child. As a woman who chose not to have children, it is sometimes hard to me to relate to stories of child birth or loss, but your story and the comments in response let me experience a bit of the emotions involved.

  9. Laurie, what a saga, replete with a missing kid, a friendly neighbor, and an impatient father. And somehow, you found time for yourself. You did survive!

  10. Khati Hendry says:

    Yes Laurie, you did survive, and thrived! I hope all thoughts of blame are now gone–maybe sharing your story has helped; you did nothing wrong to cause the ectopic pregnancy. Peace.

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