How Ocean Helps Me Heal Through Trauma and Loss

by - September 03, 2017

I was living a picture-perfect life. I’m a five-minute walk from the longest left-handed point break in Europe (that I can even see from my kitchen window), dating an amazingly hot surfer, and doing work I love. 

While I wasn’t planning to start a family, it certainly wasn’t far happening and making an already great life even greater. I wanted to have children for as long as I can remember. I even worked around children my whole life, from babysitting to being an au-pair to teaching surfing, yoga, and English to children. Needless to say, children were not really a matter of if, but a matter of when for me. As a surfer, I’d often catch myself wondering how and if I’d be able to surf my way through pregnancy when the time came. Are maternity wetsuits a thing? Then, without trying or planning, I found myself starting to get terrible nausea and strong cravings for carbs. I would eat more bread in the space of a week than I had eaten my whole life and I knew something was up.

I rushed to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test that I really didn't need, I just knew. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing those two pretty looking lines, confirming my pregnancy. I was amazed at how quickly my focus moved from my busy schedule to this little something growing inside me. In that instant, I was ready to become a mother with no worries, no doubts, and no questions asked.

In the following weeks, I’d spend hours scouring the internet to learn about women surfing during their pregnancies and I was a bit surprised by the lack of information. Of course, there were photos of Bethany Hamilton ripping through her second trimester, but I’m no professional surfer and I was really curious about catching waves during those first three months, which are such a crucial time for a baby’s development.

After a discussion with my midwife, I decided to keep surfing and giving lessons, but I slowed down when annoying nausea took over. I also became more aware of what was happening around me in the surf. Instead of paddling hard on the surfboard, I rediscovered my love for stand up paddling. I skipped inversions during yoga, replacing deep twists and backbends with more relaxing styles like Yin and Hatha. I made sure that surfing and yoga were safe for my baby and I. Needless to say, I was enjoying my pregnancy. My partner and I were approaching life and planning for our futures differently, as we approached our first 10-week scan, excited to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

healing, ocean, surfing, recovery, loss, mindfulness, mind, body, hapinness
photo by Jorge Rastrojo

That dream didn’t come true. 

A miscarriage is the loss of so many things: hopes and dreams and an endless list of “firsts.” It is a long journey of grieving, acceptance, forgiveness, and anxiety. It is filled with thousands of questions but no answers. No words could ever describe the pain a woman suffers through a pregnancy loss. It hurts every single day. Some days it hurts a little more and some days it hurts a little less, but the pain will never go away. And while I’ve learned that pain will never go away, I’ve also learned that a woman can eventually learn to live with and navigate it. 

October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month – a time that’s important to remember and honor our lost angels. From anger, hatred, and pain, to sadness and blame, and eventually from acceptance to forgiveness and learning to love the self again, this is a month we give just a little more attention to that learning process.

In the early stages of my own grief, I didn’t find comfort in my yoga practice. I was completely disconnected from my body and mind on the deepest levels. I began to resent my body for being broken, for making me feel embarrassed about my inability to grow a baby inside me, for being unable to become a mother, and for putting my partner and my family through a loss of something so precious. I felt like my body had failed me after doing everything I humanly could to take the best care of it. Other women’s bodies seemed to work on this most basic level so effortlessly, but not mine.

In spite of this, I was craving surfing. I missed the freeing feeling the ocean can provide, I missed feeling light, and I missed feeling alive. The problem was that in my state of health, I wasn’t allowed in the water. So instead of turning to the ocean I turned to my family and returned to Slovakia for love, support, and getting back to my roots. It was after that trip and a little bit of healing that I finally came back to Spain, anxious to get back to surfing – to feel the salty water and warm rays of the sun against my skin and lose myself to the ocean; the moments when I can forget and fully let go. For the very first time, I began to understand that I wasn’t the only person using surfing as an escape from reality.

Before all this, I had a sort of love/hate relationship with the ocean. Its waves always had a way of standing between my partner and I. All our plans revolved around upcoming swells and the schedule of the tides. Our holidays away from home always turned into surf trips, rarely seeing anything but the beach. As ridiculous as it may sound, it was always “the three of us,” with me often feeling like the third wheel. In the heartbreak of our miscarriage though, the ocean is bringing my partner and I all we thought we had lost. It brings us closer to each other in a new and exciting way now. It brings us smiles and tears, it makes us feel powerful and yet completely powerless at the same time. Most importantly, it helps us feel alive. So we both return to the ocean to heal, only we are doing so now as a couple – as a family.

I will be forever grateful for living so close to the ocean and how it lets me surf my pain away. So thank you to Mother Ocean for your waves and for being there for us when we desperately need you most.

It's the little things that for know I hold on to, and which remind me of what being alive and content feels like. I take it one step of a journey at the time, reminding myself that my baby was simply ‘too beautiful for earth’...
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