Alex Elle On Loving Through Loss
Words: Alexandra Elle
Visuals: Ryan Spearman
A lesson in life that requires love to be at the root of the soul.
"Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Deepen your breath, deepen your stretch."
My Bikram yoga teacher is loud, fiery, and sassy. When I was a newbie, I lacked readiness for her energy—it was extremely intimidating. She's an older Asian woman, short and pretty. Immediately after meeting her for the first time, I could tell that she was genuinely well-meaning and about her business. I like her a lot.
Today was my first day back in a fitness studio since the miscarriage and the second day of my first period since losing our baby. I felt like crap. And all I have been able to think about for the past five weeks is how bad I wish I were still pregnant. The yearning grows more and more intense as the days go by.
All I could think about was how I was going to be able to love myself through miscarrying.
While I was on my mat, so many feelings came up and stayed on the surface. Usually, I honor them and let them go. But today I couldn't focus. The sweat dripping from my overheated body seemed to be splashing so loudly beneath me. I was completely distracted. All I could think about was how I was going to be able to love myself through miscarrying. Was it possible?
Visions of my empty womb on the emergency ultrasound screen flooded my memory in vivid detail. The gynecologist’s voice, warm but matter-of-fact, came rushing in loudly. "Maybe you implanted late or miscalculated your ovulation. The spotting might be from implantation," she said. "It's too soon to tell. I wasn't expecting to see a baby today. Don't worry too much. We will take your betas and be in touch." But I knew something was wrong. I know my body.
Snapping myself back to class was hard. The “Why am I even here?” feeling overwhelmed me, and the follow-up call from the OBGYN broke my heart for the one hundred-thousandth time. "Your HCG levels are declining. You should prepare yourself for a miscarriage. We are sorry for your loss."
We had waited so long for a positive pregnancy test, and the excitement we experienced together was unmatched. I was nervous about what this loss would do to my partner and me emotionally. And even though I should've been doing a low plank, all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball on my yoga mat and never unfold.
How was I supposed to show up for myself and not be angry at my body? I wake up with this question on my mind every day. My mantra for the past few weeks has been "Love yourself, forgive yourself," but it's like I've forgotten how. Miscarriage is not at all unique to me, and even with a loving partner, there are moments when I feel completely isolated and alone.
Bikram is 90 minutes long but today it felt like 90 days. By minute 30 I was over it. "Push forward, lean into the posture, relax your shoulders," the teacher instructed us while in standing bow-pulling pose. I love this posture, but today it's kicking my butt, and I hate it. I keep falling, and I can't bear to make eye contact with myself in the mirror ahead. The heat and my mind start playing tricks on me. "You can't do anything right!" says the voice of doubt, the one I have known so well since my pre-teen years. After a year of trying, how did we end up back here having to try again?
Instead of fighting my feelings, and forcing myself to focus on class, I decided to allow myself to dive into the waves of emotion. Everything that came to shore was collected one by one; I examined it all. The truth, the hurt, the love, the pain. Each sensation was allowed to stretch, bend, and flow with me. While my body still yearns to be carrying Ryan and my first child together, I know that it will happen again for us. And as much as I crave to hear the sound of our baby's fluttering heartbeat, I'm aware that in time, the heart song of our offspring will be abundant.
I'm aware that in time, the heart song of our offspring will be abundant.
In our final savasana, I promised myself no matter what, I will stand tall with my body and not be ashamed to feel every ounce of anything that comes up. I'm allowed to hurt right now. I'm allowed to be weak and brokenhearted. Giving myself permission to grieve and grow through this has been the first step of love and self-care after our loss.
Every drop of sweat that was mixed with tears, every stumble out of a pose, every inhale and exhale on and off my mat has helped me. Each hug and kiss from my partner, each time my hand has interlocked with his, and each reassuring word that he's gently spoken in my ear has healed me. At this very moment, I don't have to be too strong to feel the sting of sadness, but I will be resilient. And I will love through this loss.
Alex Elle is a poet, entrepreneur, and mater mea's wellness columnist.
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