Let’s open up about miscarriage

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The statistic says 1 in 4. 1 in 4, yet most of us who experience it still suffer in silence. 1 in 4 yet it’s not something that is openly discussed. 1 in 4 of us go through it at least once yet when someone, in casual conversation, mentions that we should start thinking about expanding our family we don’t divulge that we are struggling, or have suffered a loss. We smile and nod instead of talking about our experience, avoiding the pity, preferring to keep our vulnerability to ourselves.

I was recently in conversation with a friend who suffered a miscarriage, her first pregnancy. Her eyes exposed her sadness. I know that feeling that you secretly carry around with you hoping that no one else notices because you don’t want to have to explain. When her doctor told her the statistics on miscarriage she was stunned. She had no idea. Why, she asked, does no one talk about the hard stuff? Write about that she asked, write about why no one talks about this hard stuff.

It’s something that has been on my mind for a long time. Not just in relation to miscarriage but it’s a perfect example of our obsession with making life look easy. We are so reluctant to admit to our struggles. Is it because of the fear of looking weak? Are we afraid of exposing our vulnerable side? Do we think by not admitting to the difficulties we face that they don’t really exist?

Friends, coworkers, acquaintances, relatives get pregnant yet how many people are honest about their struggles? How many people admit that it took them a long time to get pregnant? How many admit to suffering miscarriages? How many talk about a difficult pregnancy? Leading you to believe it was easy. That getting pregnant is a breeze, being pregnant is a breeze.  Yet anyone who has experienced pregnancy knows differently.

It has become commonplace for women to secretly guard their pregnancies until they are well into that 3 month safe zone. Doesn’t this add to the shaming of miscarriage? Logically, I understand why. Having to field questions about your loss is not easy. Dodging the pitiful glances and words of wisdom can be frustrating. But in the end wouldn’t it be nice (not to mention better for women in general) not to suffer in silence, in fear of the secret being discovered? Might it be comforting if hearing about a miscarriage was normal? 1 in 4 makes it very normal. Normal but still not acceptable to talk about openly.

Speaking out and being honest about our experiences can help another woman to not feel so alone when she experiences her own loss or difficulty conceiving. Even more important than this, not opening up about our struggles with pregnancy can in turn lead, however unintentionally, to isolating other women.

I am fully aware that there are many intensely private people that need to grieve alone. If this is something you feel you have to keep close to your own heart by all means do that. You have to grieve your loss in your own way. Yet if you are able, I challenge you to talk about it. Be open about your battle. Let’s do what we can to remove the stigma that sadly, still surrounds fertility issues.

I have been very fortunate in that I did not experience any difficulties getting pregnant, in fact I was pregnant each and every time within a month of stopping birth control. Yet Mr. T. was born with severe life threatening health issues that almost broke me. (http://www.talesfrommummyland.com/2011/03/23/when-do-you-let-something-go/)

My second pregnancy did end in miscarriage. The moment I started spotting my heart knew that this baby was not meant to be. I crawled into bed where I stayed for the rest of the day. I cried. I cuddled Mr. T, who wasn’t yet a year old and didn’t understand why mummy was so sad. Yet the next morning I had to get up early and take Mr. T to Sick Kids for an MRI. More pressing issues overtook the space in my mind reserved for grief. Somehow I was able to push it aside and accept that my body took care of something that wasn’t going to work. Instead of questioning if there was something wrong with me, I looked at it as my body doing exactly what it was supposed to do.

With my third pregnancy I suffered from an immense amount of nausea. I threw up every single day for 9 months. I felt as horrible as I looked. I vomited in bags in the car, in parking lots, in the bathroom on the train on the way to work. I wondered how such an amazing experience could feel so awful. I was happy to be pregnant and every time I felt that baby move my heart swelled. Yet as much as I loved being pregnant, I did find myself wishing it to be over. I felt guilty for wishing it to be over, knowing that this might be my last experience with pregnancy. Knowing how very fortunate I was to be experiencing pregnancy at all.

We all struggle. Each of us in our own way. Let’s open up. This baby making business is not as easy as we are led to believe. Let’s help those struggling know that they aren’t alone. Let’s help remove the stigma. Not one more woman should have to suffer in silence.  We have the power to do that. Life becomes more bearable when we can lean on others to help us through our dark moments.

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8 thoughts on “Let’s open up about miscarriage

  1. I am sorry to hear about your loss. I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, however, I lost my son Alexander when he was a baby.

    People don’t like to talk about loss. I think they worry it’s contagious. Regardless, 4.5 years on, his name is still mentioned at least once a day. It might not be that way forever but spoken or not, he’ll never be forgotten.

    Thanks for sharing a part of your story.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

    • Natalie

      Thank out for reading and for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing that. I really believe that by be willing to share our experiences we can open the doors for discussion. It can help ease someone else’s pain.

  2. Speaking as a woman who has also had a miscarriage, I want to thank you for this post. I am so sorry to read about your loss. Like you mentioned in your post, women do suffer alone and it’s a good thing to open up about miscarriage. My mom comes from a time when women just never openly discussed things like this. It’s almost as if it’s something that needs to be hidden and never talked about. I do find being able to talk about it helps me move on. Thank you again for sharing.

  3. Anthony

    So sorry to hear about your loss. Our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. And although this post may be the same as the others (the heartbreak and the struggle), the difference will be that a man is writing it. I was completely unaware of how big this number was until we became the 1 in 4. And while unfortunately not a lot of women talk about it, it is discussed even less among men. The horrible thing about going through this is knowing that no matter how much pain or hurt or grief I felt, I knew my wife felt worse. It’s almost a feeling of guilt, that I should feel so sad when I wasn’t even the one carrying the child. The worst part was that I felt like I could do nothing to make her feel better or comfort her. She of course felt the opposite and let me know being there was enough. They say that a miscarriage can either tear you apart or make you stronger, thankfully it has made us stronger. I feel for all of you/us that have either gone through it or are currently experiencing it. You will get the comments from people that are trying to make you feel better but unfortunately might make it worse. They might say the wrong things. Know that it is coming from the heart but they are unable to understand something they have not experienced. Know that you did absolutely nothing wrong. Know that while there is nothing I or anyone else can say to make you feel better, it does get easier. And always know that you are not alone. I wish you all the best and hope this issue does get the attention it deserves.

    • Natalie

      Anthony, I want to thank you for your words. It’s not often that I’m left without words but in reading your comments that’s just where I have been left. You are absolutely right that this is discussed less amongst men. My husband was more concerned is comforting me and moving our family along. I don’t even know how he dealt with his own grief. Pregnancy is this zone where men often struggle to find their place, where they fit. As you said, these things can tear you apart or make you stronger and it just drew us closer together. Both the miscarriage and dealing with my son’s health issues just made us stronger both individually and as a couple. Your words have peaked my interest and I think I will look into this a bit further, how father’s handle the grief of loss.
      I am so sorry for your loss and I thank you for speaking out for fathers.

  4. Thanks for this beautiful post Natalie! We’re working on some exciting initiatives regarding awareness, advocacy and prevention for pregnancy and infant loss and supporting maternal (and paternal!) mental health – please join us at Facebook.com/MommyInterrupted.Org & MommyInterrupted.Org as we launch! (P.S. Posting this article to our Facebook community today.)

    • Natalie

      Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing what you have coming and am happy that you are talking about pregnancy and infant loss. I have followed your facebook page.

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