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.