It’s so common. We’ve all heard the statistics. One in four women will experience a miscarriage. That’s 25% of us. One-quarter of pregnancies will end before 20 weeks. (And 75% of them in the first trimester). So why aren’t we talking about this?
Well, some of us are.
But the truth is, it’s hard.
We aren’t always given the stage to talk about miscarriage. In part because we are hanging in the wings waiting to make our grand pregnancy debut, waiting to officially announce our good news — and then out of nowhere — we’re quickly yanked off the stage.
When miscarriage strikes, we’re taken back to the green room where we sit and grieve quietly if we give ourselves the space to grieve at all. Aptly named the green room because we can become sick with envy; watching our friends conceive and carry to term. Or sick with self-loathing and body-shame; angry at the performance we believe our bodies couldn’t handle. Or disgusted by a world that would have us return to a “normal” we fear we might never find again.
Talking About Miscarriage
Thankfully, people are talking about it more than ever before. Earlier this month I interviewed Dr. Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist who works primarily with women dealing with infertility, miscarriage and other maternal and reproductive health issues. Dr. Zucker created the #Ihadamiscarriage hashtag after sharing her own 16-week miscarriage story publicly in the New York Times. She is inspiring women around the world to start talking about their experience in an attempt to dismantle the shame and the silence that so often surround a miscarriage.
We discussed what our self-talk sounds like when a miscarriage occurs. For the first few miscarriages, mine went something like this:
Why, why WHY? What is WRONG with me, why does my body keep doing this? I feel like less of a ________ (wife, daughter, could-be-mother, woman), It must be something I’ve done. It must be my fault. This is humiliating.
Zucker understood that line of thinking completely. She hears it from patients all the time.
“But,” she says, “What if we say to ourselves, ’this isn’t my fault, what if this is normal, what if becoming a statistic doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me but it means that I’m human.'”
I wanted to hug her.
YES, exactly. We are human. Humans suffer grief and loss. But instead of accepting and acknowledging our grief, we are quick to fasten blame and attach a meaning to it. It must’ve been the sushi I ate before I knew I was pregnant, or the wine I snuck from my husband’s glass at dinner. And it must mean I’m not fit to be a mother, that it wasn’t meant to be.
But what if we stopped to give ourselves the permission to grieve? Not because it’s our fault, but because we are human, and because we are sad (or devastated, or angry, or lost). What if we could talk about it and not keep it hushed backstage behind the curtain.
It’s not easy, but we need to do this. If we can bring miscarriage out of the shadows and into the spotlight, we can begin to acknowledge that it has a space on the stage and is part of our story. And our story matters.
An Invitation to Grieve
After her ninth miscarriage earlier this summer, Meagan decided to create a 3 week, self-guided e-course to help other women suffering with the grief that follows a miscarriage. To honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October, Meagan will be giving away five free enrollments of her e-course “An Invitation to Grieve; Healing After a Miscarriage” to MKE Moms Blog readers. If you, or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage and would welcome the opportunity to work through the grief in a safe, self-guided space, please comment below (be sure to provide an email) and we will contact the five selected participants on October 1st. For more information about the course, please visit: http://www.aninvitationtogrieve.com .
Meagan will also be co-facilitating the conversation “Let’s Talk about Miscarriage” at the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion on October 4th from 5:30-7:30. Please join for wine and sushi and be a part of bringing this taboo topic out into the open. The talk is free but registration is requested.