“Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and it’s spectacular.” ~Joseph Campbell
They say all feelings have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The truth is that I’m still in the middle part, but I felt like it was time to share this story with you—not just for me, but for all women who have faced this and for all women who have made a plan and then surrendered as the plan changed.
Two months ago, I had a miscarriage.
The pregnancy was a little bit of a surprise. We’d been talking about it, but weren’t “trying.” (Sidenote: I got off birth control pills years ago when I quit drinking alcohol—best decision of my life, but that’s a different story.)
Over the years, I really learned my body and I’d been able to sync up with my cycle, except for this one time a few months ago when I miscounted the days. Whoops.
I took a pregnancy test. Two lines. I took three more pregnancies tests. All four said the same thing: two lines = pregnant.
Were we excited? Were we scared? Do we celebrate? Did we just mess up our entire lives? Do we move? Do I cancel my work trips in the fall? All the plans. All the feelings. All at once. But the excitement was incredible—we made a baby!
I started telling the women closest to me.
My husband started calling and checking in more than normal.
We were preparing in our own way.
I was early. Only eight weeks.
And I was eager to tell my family in person because I just so happened to have a trip already planned to see them.
But before boarding the plane a few weeks ago, I could sense something was going on. I called a close friend and told her that I was starting to feel attached to the little creation growing inside of me and that I was scared I would lose it. Part of me already knew, even though I wouldn’t find out for another week.
My wise friend said something I’ll never forget. She said,
“Julie, no matter what happens, you’ll be okay.”
She was right. She’s always right.
A week later, when I started spotting, I was in my mother’s bathroom in Louisiana. I had told her the news the night before. I immediately called that same friend, then my husband, then the doctor. Tears and more tears. I knew what was happening.
My sister (my closest friend and a nurse) moved into action, told me what to do, and pulled all the strings for my appointment.
My mother sat on the couch with me, held my hands, cradled my face, and prayed with me.
My father rushed to my side with fierce strength and held back his tears with loving tenderness.
My husband, thousands of miles away, held strong—mentally and emotionally—and kept telling me that everything would be okay. One step at a time. Always, grounding and anchoring me.
They were all strong for me, which allowed me to be soft.
The ultrasound showed no heartbeat and a tiny little thing measuring only six weeks. It wasn’t time.
I walked out of the doctor’s office and paused at the door before meeting my parents on the other side. I cried and held my womb and cried some more.
I cried for the loss of the plans we’d made.
I cried for the loss of what could have been our baby.
I cried for myself, for my husband, for our family, and for all the women who have been initiated into this phase of life.
My parents rose to their feet the moment they saw me. We stepped into the hallway so I could tell them the news without disturbing the pregnant women waiting for their appointments.
I told them what I saw and what I knew. I cried and they cried. My mom cried for her baby and her baby’s baby. My dad cried for his little girl. My sister called fourteen times waiting for the news. My husband remained peaceful, hopeful, and calm on the other end of the phone.
They were steady in the midst of my storm.
My body released everything naturally. It was intense and beautiful. My hormones started to regulate. My heart is starting to heal.
I say this again and again in the work I do, but I believe it to be truer now more than ever….
In order to be fully alive, we must feel it all.
My heart was torn open into a hundred piece two months ago, but not just because I was sad. It was torn open as I learned to feel even more.
My heart held grief and love in a way that I never knew could co-exist. To witness the miracle of my body, the beauty of being a woman, and the strength and resilience of my spirit blew me away.
I am different.
Clear. Focused. Fierce. Tender.
I am more me than I’ve ever been.
A new rite of passage. A new opportunity to deepen within myself.
In many ways this little spirit baby birthed me. I am no longer the same.
Life isn’t meant to be easy, or perfect, or happy all the time. Life is meant to confront us. It will get in our face and push our boundaries and stretch our limits.
Life doesn’t do this to be cruel. It does this to remind us of our strength and bring us closer to our spirit.
In the midst of grieving in a way I’ve never done before, I feel stronger than I ever have before. It’s such a weird paradox.
That’s the beauty of life.
With every twist and tug and pull… With every heartache and break…
Life is making us all. Making and molding and polishing our soul so that we may one day shine even brighter.
This is life.
I continue to welcome all of life—the heartbreak and hope, the pain and the joy, the smiles and the tears. There is room for it all.
Above all things, I trust more than ever before that life is completely and utterly holding me. I don’t have to do a thing. Life has got me and if it’s not this, it will be something else because that’s the way life works.
I feel a deep sense of peace and openness as I finish this note to you.
My heart feels full. Full from love. Full from pain. Full from life. And that is a beautiful gift.
About Julie Santiago
Julie is a former Wall Streeter turned Women’s Empowerment Coach. She’s a certified holistic health/life coach and yoga teacher, specializing in guiding women to find their life’s purpose. As a modern-day medicine woman, Julie combines her business prowess with her love for all things mind, body and soul to connect women back to their hearts. Visit her at juliesantiago.com.
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