This post will be not about travelling as such, but about life, which happens while you travel. And miscarriage. But as it is a travel blog after all, I also have something to say on travelling.
This week I could have been 12 weeks pregnant, the critical first trimester, during which 20% of all pregnancies fail. 20% or one in five is a big number. However, when I found out that I am that one in five, whose baby stopped developing, I felt like I was the only woman in the world it has happened to. I have over 600 friends on Facebook, and I know all but two of them personally. More than half are girls. I know about many of the struggles they face, joys they experience. I never heard about such thing as a miscarriage. It is something you process privately.
I cannot speak for the reasons other women have to hide this. It might be the pain and disappointment, which holds your throat like some invisible hand and chokes you every time you even think of sharing it. It was what I felt too. But I also felt the shame. As if I failed to do something I was supposed to. Or at least my body failed. Mislead, miscalculated, miscarried.
Some words are misleading, and missed miscarriage is one of those words. In my case it was not missed: I very soon found out that the baby stopped developing at six weeks. Nor was it a miscarriage: my body faithfully carried the fetus for whole six weeks after it stopped being alive, and probably would have continued, had it not been taken away with medical assistance. But in any situation, I do not think this word is helping.
And neither does the silence. Not even the silence, but rather the anonymity of it. Of course, during those six weeks I went through many stages of grief, acceptance, denial and back again. And I read a lot of internet forums: an endless chorus of pain, where each girl would chime in to tell her story, beginning with the cliched and honest refrain: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Hearing those stories somehow helped, but they seemed so far away from me, that it felt difficult to connect.
Then a couple of weeks ago I came across a blog of one of girls I know personally (and admire!). In her post she openly wrote about her experience of losing a baby. And I sat there crying, feeling suddenly as if I was hugged and comforted by someone, who understands exactly what I feel. And my sorrow felt lighter somehow, shared.
I thought that the least I can do is to pay it forward. To show my face and not hide it, so maybe someone, who also became this unlucky one in five will read it and feel a little bit less alone. There is no shame in what has happened. None of us failed. You may react to it as just another try for a baby, a routine – and this is perfectly ok. And you also can see it as an end of the world at this point – and painful as it is, I really believe it is also perfectly normal. After all, you can wait with buying clothes for the baby, but you can’t chose a point of time, when you want to start loving it. And sometimes love has already arrived before the miscarriage happens. And then you just grieve, because you lost someone which you have already loved.
Your sadness is not lying only on your shoulders. There are many of us, and together it is easier to hold it all without breaking.
And what does travelling have to do with it?
We tend to assume that travelling equals happiness. We assume that those girls in floppy dresses and hats (or in jeans and sneakers or in a hotel bath robe) lead a worry-free life, while the rest of us have to deal with bills, illnesses, and other daily struggles. As if you can put your life on pause for the journey to better absorb the sun and culture.
But while travelling you can just as well get ill, just as well get sad or just as well have some urgent work to deal with. And in many cases it does not to stop you from travelling (although in many cases it does). I found out about the missed miscarriage just a day before flying to Turkey. And a week later I had a family and work appointments in the UK. I did travel to both of those places in the condition. There is nothing to be proud of or to be ashamed for – it is just how the life went on.
And in a way this change of scenery helped me. I think at home I would have spend most of the short and gloomy November days being gloomy myself. But going to the seaside helped and I caught myself several times sitting on the beach feeling the sun on my skin feeling almost happy – despite the circumstances.
And it made me re-think the role of travelling in my life, to de-glamourise it a bit, but at the same time to set my standards down. It does not have to be perfect, or that well-prepared, or that well felt-through. Because in the end it is just the same life continuing to happen in different locations.