The article talks about the intense internal shifts that the body and brain undergoes. I mean, I or anyone who has experienced it, could certainly have told them that. The moment I was pregnant, my blood started pumping differently, my hormones rioted, my heart felt as if it was swelling to the point of explosion. The momentum forward was terrifying and exhilarating until it all crashed to halt. It makes perfect sense that my gray matter was also undergoing massive renovations at that time. The article I read likens motherhood to "discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live". All these brain changes and hormones prepare you to bond with your child when he or she arrives. They prepare you to be something that has been within you the whole time, just waiting.
My question is, what happens to those neurologic structural shifts in those of us that don't get the opportunity to see the pregnancy all the way through? Few people talk about that. Do those internal transformations get smoothed out and then washed away like pebbles on the beach or are we left to sit in this new room that was built with nothing to fill it? If my apartment was big enough to have cleared a room for a nursery before I miscarried, I imagine it would feel a little something like that. If Motherhood is a new room that you never knew you always had, then miscarriage is much like having an empty room within your home that has tiny toys and tiny shoes but no tiny hands and feet to match them. I found myself feeling like both a stranger and a natural in that room and it's an odd cocktail of comfort, confusion, and pain.
I suppose if those neurological modifications do stay in place, they must end up getting reallocated elsewhere. It's hard to decipher where exactly when you are in the fog of depression, but once that begins to clear, it's not so much of a stretch to start to look around you and notice the places that the extra helping of nurture, protective energy, and maternal perception may have landed. For me, I see it in the way I care for my little chosen family in the city (first kind of annoyingly in the manner of force-feeding them soup and fussing over them incessantly, but then in a more--I'd like to think--tolerable and easy-to-appreciate way), I see it in the way I fiercely protect the ones I love and the things I believe in, I see it in the way I value the small moments of beauty that are given to me on a daily basis because I know for certain that nothing is permanent. I guess in a perfect world those biological alterations are turned back onto one's self and relationships in a positive way.
I remember thinking a lot about postpartum depression when I miscarried. Not that I can speak from direct experience, but if we are going to keep going with this metaphor, I imagine postpartum depression is like walking into a room where you expected to feel at home only to find that you do not recognize your surroundings at all. Postpartum is a phenomenon that also doesn't get enough airtime, but that's not the only thing linking it to miscarriage in my perception. Postpartum is directly related to the emotional and hormonal hangover that exists after having a baby. There are certain expectations of how you are "supposed" to feel after you give birth, and falling short of that only intensifies the pain. In the case of miscarriage you may not have carried a baby for nine months, but you still underwent a massive emotional and physiological overhaul, had all those maternal expectations, and even experienced the pain of contractions or surgical intervention at the end (or both if you're lucky like me). Then you walked away with no baby to serve as a salve to your soul. That physical, emotional, and spiritual hangover after miscarrying is the very substance that makes up the fog I've been weed-whacking through over the last year.
As the days and weeks draw on I can't help myself from continuing to look at this whole experience from a million different angles. Aspects of it make more or less sense and new lenses emerge through which things become more or less clear. Maybe that too is part of the process of how the body and brain heals from miscarriage. At first the physiological shifts make it impossible to have any sort of clarifying distance (so if you are in that place give yourself a dang break!! you're only human!!). We are all subject to the wild ride of hormones and brain chemistries. "Mommy brain" is a thing I always hear new moms talk about and it's surely more than just being exhausted and overwhelmed. It's about learning to walk around with the internal renovations that have occurred over the last 9 months--that is no small feat (moms are superheroes!!) So for the babyless mamas out there who feel they are going absolutely mad, maybe take comfort in the fact that you too are reconciling walking through the world with would-be mommy brain. It isn't easy to do right away, but I think there are ways to embrace the thwarted neurological preparations and make them work for you. Even if those changes happened without a baby to share them with, you can share them with the world and they can become a positive part of the evolving woman who walked through the fire of this experience.