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Boulder, CO

Handmade ceramics for the table and home, intended to use and enjoy. Made in Boulder Colorado. 

 

Journal

A Letter of Love, Loss, and Light

Alyssa Westenbroek-Koster

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I carried you, little Bug, for 17 weeks and 1 day.

My heart hurts now that you are gone.

I looked forward to meeting you for the first time.

I imagined learning how to hold you, how to feed you, how to clean you. I was excited to introduce you to our family and friends. I wondered if you would get his blue eyes or my brown eyes. I anticipated sleepless nights with you. I worried about making the best decisions for you.

And now you are gone.

10 days ago Brian and I held hands and held back tears, when we learned you no longer had a heartbeat. 8 days ago you left my body in a way I had never anticipated.

While I lay unconscious on a table with my legs spread apart, they removed you like a tumor from my body, and scraped my womb clean. They sent a piece of you to a lab to be tested. When I awoke, the doctor assured me that all “the material” had been removed.

But unlike a tumor, which one desperately wants to live without…

I WANTED YOU.

My stomach was firm and rounded. I could see you growing as my belly incrementally protruded more and more, week by week. No one else could see it yet under my heavy fall layers of sweaters and scarves, but we could. B would put his hand on my lower belly and whisper in my ear, “I see Bug.”

Now my stomach is flat and soft.

We had plans for the coming months and year. But suddenly all of our plans have changed on a dime. Our life is back to what it was before you. And though B and I have always had a wonderful life together, going back to what we were before doesn’t feel like enough.

Here I am, one week to the day after surgery. The bleeding, cramping, and soreness are finally subsiding. Those physical reminders of everything that has happened and my literal emptiness are fading away.

Though my body is feeling better each day, my heart aches.

I am able to distract myself with daily duties and social interactions. But in quiet moments my mind comes back to you with a surge of sadness like an avalanche. Cold, dark, lonely, and smothering; it catches me when I’m not expecting it and rolls over me, burying me with incredible force.

This is grief.

I never understood it before. I had heard of it, of course. But now I see with painful clarity that the only way to grasp the ferocious extent of grief’s power, is to find yourself in the rising waters of it.

It’s dark here, in grief.

But there are varied sparkles of light trickling through the black expanse, like stars in the immense cold desert sky.

Brian and I have felt so much love and support. We are truly humbled by it. We spent most of the first week cuddled up on the couch, crying together, and mourning our loss of what could have been. During that time, and over the course of the days since, those trickling sparkles of light have fallen all around us. They have taken the form of text messages, emails and DM’s, flowers, meals, gifts of tea, hand written notes, and the gift of space to grieve together in solitude.

Now I find myself alone at the studio. Trying to work but feeling pulled to put concrete words to my thoughts and emotions.

I don’t typically share such intimate emotions publicly. It is difficult for me to share personal thoughts and experiences with my closest people, much less publishing them for the world to read. I feel vulnerable writing these things, but I also want to publicly acknowledge that for 17 weeks, our baby was loved and WAS LOVE ITSELF (thank you, Ingrid for that reminder). Bug was both a child of God, and OUR child, whom we never got to meet. Going forward B and I will heal. We will remember how to put one foot in front of the other, and our lives will go back to “normal”. But I will always carry what could have been in my heart, as well as the lessons I have learned (and will continue to learn) through this process.

Maybe no one will read to the end of this post, and that’s ok. I wrote it because I needed to write it, not because I needed it to be read. But maybe my story will help someone out there have a better understanding of what their sister or friends is going through. Or possibly, these rambling reflections will provide a sense of community to someone else who has experienced the loss of what could have been, with the passing of an unborn child. Miscarriage is hard. Harder than I knew. And it is rarely discussed in our society. Only whispers pass behind heavy doors.

Friends, please know, that I am in good hands. I am loved and bolstered by my God, my husband, our family, our friends, and our incredible community. I am seeking professional postpartum/grief support, and I find so much each day to be thankful for. Please don’t read my words and worry about me. Read them, and glean what you need to from them. Please take the bits and pieces of my story that will help you to have a conversation about this uncomfortable topic, to support a friend or loved one through it, or to have better understanding and empathize in the future around miscarriage and grief.

It feels strange to post about this topic on my pottery website - but my work is me, and I am my work. Plus, I’m not sure where else to put it.

Please feel free to pass this post along to anyone you feel may benefit from reading it. Post it, share it, email it. Please comment below if you would like to share your thoughts or experience. If you made it this far, thank you for reading to the end of my story. That simple act, acknowledges so much.

With a deep breath, and love,

Alyssa

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