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A lesson of holding on to hope

This honest story is in English because Bruna is from Brasil. She now lives in Aalsmeer (NL) and is learning to hold on to hope after having to deal with the pain of two miscarriages.

What's the process you’re in?

We lost our baby when I was only 3 months pregnant. The baby was born the size of my hand. I personally felt really lost, I was all over the place.

I was carrying that baby, and my body just killed it. That’s one sentence the midwife said to me. She didn’t mean to be mean or anything, but that really stuck with me. My body, as a woman, is not good enough to hold on to a baby. And I knew it was not true, but still it hit my identity.

I couldn’t wear the same clothes anymore because I couldn’t figure out who I was. I started to doubt myself. Am I even a good mom, a good wife, a good friend?

How did you handle all the doubting?

I have been dealing with perfectionism my entire life. I used to be a dancer before, and my dance teacher was always very strict. You needed to watch your weight and work harder. For 2 years of my life I had bulimia. I would throw up because I wanted to look more beautiful. So that perfectionism has always been there. I was always trying to perform and look good for the world.

After losing the baby the perfectionism came back. I was already 3 months pregnant so you could see a belly already, because it was my second child. I had no problem with that, but when I lost the baby I still had the belly. And I started to produce breast milk, but there was no baby to drink it. I felt like I needed to do something about my body. So I started doing all kinds of exercise and eating less. But after 3 weeks I realised that I was doing all this so I could look perfect again. In front of a camera or in front of my friends.

I think it’s a part of dutch culture to say: Don’t cry about it and move on. I wanted to be a strong woman so I thought, 3 weeks is enough. Put yourself together and go on. But after that I broke down again. I realised trying to be like that was bullshit, I need to give space to my emotions. Because at a certain point in my life it will come hunting me again if I don’t deal with this now. 

How do you deal with this?

I am always very scheduled and well planned. But after experiencing this, I realise I’m not in control. I have no clue what will happen with us tomorrow, or at the end of this day. So I want to live with an excitement that I am awake again! That the sun is shining, and that I can have a cup of tea. A mentality of; Let me make this day count.

So I will try to be the best mom I can, the best wife I can and the best friend I can. I want to stop being so perfect and putting pressure on everything. I used to be a perfectionist but now I am learning to be present over perfect.

How do you do that?

For me it’s a daily reminder. I have to choose to change my patterns. When I listen to music that hit my emotions in a wrong way, I need to remind myself that what it’s making me feel is not the truth. So then I have to choose to listen to something else, or read different books. For a long time I stopped checking instagram because a lot of friends of mine around me were pregnant.
A month ago I unfollowed 100 people on my instagram. Because they didn’t do me any good. I wanted to look like them or I wanted to have what they have. And that was not good for my identity. 

What you get out of being pregnant and having a baby is so much more precious than your old body. I would rather have kids then look the way I looked before. You need to allow your body to change and be okay with that.

How does that look from day to day?

For me living here really helps me to focus on what is important to me, like my thoughts and emotions. It took me a while to make this place feel like home. In the winter there is just nothing here. If we don’t want to, we don’t see a single soul.

But now I enjoy it. I used to live in the city and there it’s so much easier to compare yourself to others, or try to be someone you’re not. And I always found it hard to not consume, there was always something I wanted to have. But here I just work in my garden with my plants and in my teagarden. And I have my family and that’s it. And that brings me a joy that all the consuming has never brought me. It has taught me a big lesson of being present: this is my life, and I accept that.

How come you are so open about your loss?

Our neighbour is 80 years old and when he heard we lost the baby, two days later he came to our house and sat on our couch. We are not close with him but he started crying and sharing. When his wife was young they lost their child and they never told anyone about it. He had to bury the baby on his own.
Later on we heard that three of our neighbours also had lost babies and never talked about it. At that moment I realised, how many people actually suffer with this kind of pain but never talk about it.

To me, in my perspective: if I am open, I create openness. So if I talk about this with other people, it makes me vulnerable. Because many times it’s not easy and I cry. But it also shows that my life is not perfect.
A month ago we lost another baby. The midwife didn’t even consider it a baby yet. Because it was just 5 weeks old. She just called it a fetus. People around us were asking us why we were even sharing this, but for me this was my baby. I can’t carry all this pain on my own, we are not made to do life alone.

How is this process working out now?

I know God is with me, and has been with me. But it is my choice to go for it again. This experience is not a definition of my life. But it’s one thing to say it, and another thing to really live it. My identity is not defined by if I can have a baby or not, but in what God says that I am. I want to hold on to that hope, that never disappoints me. I know I am enough in Him.

Overall it’s not hard for me to dream about the future. But dreaming about kids, I realise I’m more careful. I always had in my mind that I wanted a big family. But after losing these two I am like: ‘’oh, do I even dare to dream again?’’ But I am a work in process in that, in letting it go. I can’t be in control and it’s okay to dream.



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