I’ve been trying to write this post for several days. I’ve written and deleted more “introductions” than I can count, and I feel a little like I’m tripping over my words.
I guess that’s because for the first time, the words I’m reflecting on are not all mine.
Since I opened up about my miscarriage a few months ago, I’ve had many women reach out to talk to me about their own. Some were from long ago, but the memories had left deep, lasting impressions in their hearts. Some were from women who had either just experienced one like I had, or were still in the middle of going through it. Every conversation echoed the same feelings of loneliness, heartache and grief.
The common thread between all of them was the fact that these women and their partners and families has been through a trauma– one that is often endured in silence. Miscarriage is sometimes referred to as a “silent grief” because we exist in a societal culture where pregnancies often aren’t “announced” until after the end of the first trimester. This prevents a family from going through the pain of having to announce a pregnancy and then retract it if the pregnancy is lost.
But in a way, this practice also makes it that much harder for a family to share their grief and feel the love of their community.
I always wanted four children. I come from a big family, and I know the chaos and joy that having several siblings can be. When we found out we were pregnant with our fourth last winter, I felt like our family was complete. I landed a short-term teaching contract at a school that I love shortly after, and it felt like all the stars were aligning. I would be able to work enough hours to earn a maternity leave and everything just felt so right.
I started showing early, so after we told the kids, we happily announced our pregnancy at 8 weeks.
A few weeks later I miscarried. It was a traumatic and I had complications, but as I was going through those first few awful hours, I realized something: I didn’t know who to talk to. I desperately needed to talk to someone who had been through what my body was experiencing… and in those dark moments I didn’t know who to turn to. I reached out to a friend, remembering that she had also been through this… hoping that she would be willing to talk to me. Miscarriage feels like this dark, shadowy thing that is so heavy to talk about.
…but talking about it made my grief so much lighter.
My friend was a light in the darkness for me. She listened as I shared my anxieties and fear and helped me fill in what the emergency room doctors weren’t communicating well. She helped me feel less alone.
Four days later, as I was navigating through hormones and grief, I decided to write my story. I openly told everyone about our loss, then felt like I was going to be sick as I pressed “publish”. People don’t really talk openly about miscarriages… it almost felt like I was doing something wrong.
I never could have anticipated the response I’ve had to that post. For me, it was like a weight was lifted. Grief is so heavy. Carrying it alone with my family felt crushing. Sharing my story was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it also lightened the weight of my grief as I allowed a community of women and friends in. I’ve lost track of the number of messages I’ve received about it. It’s been almost 10 months and they are still coming in.
Those conversations were a lifeline for me… and it made me realize just how important talking about it is. It made me realize that maybe I can be a voice for others who aren’t ready to share yet.
It made me realize that maybe I can be the person that I needed for someone else. That maybe through this, I can help someone who is going through a miscarriage feel less alone.
That’s why I’m doing this. I’m hoping to give someone who felt like they couldn’t speak about it a voice. A chance to share their story. A week ago I put a toe in the water and asked one question, unsure of the response I’d receive. I had 60 women respond, and their stories were so raw and real. I was awed by their honesty and their willingness to share so openly.
It confirmed to me that there is something here that needs to be said. The way we “deal with” miscarriages is so problematic. We need to open up that conversation and rethink how we are supporting women and their families as they go through this. Chances are there are people in your circle of family or friends who have quietly experienced this– many online statistics show that 1 in four 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime.
One in four.
I am one in four.
I saw this quote from Maya Angelou that was perhaps written in another context, but spoke so deeply to me here:
I believe that miscarriage just isn’t talked about openly enough. I know the agony of going through it alone. I also know the relief and healing that came with telling my story.
I hope it can come with telling yours, too.
I have several questions I want to ask… and a week ago I asked the first one. Sixty women stepped up and told me the things they wish they had known or didn’t feel prepared for before their miscarriage(s). On this page I’ll share what they told me… and if that can help even one person feel less alone as they go through this, then for me, it will have been worth it.
My hope is that maybe we can start bringing the conversation about miscarriage out of the shadows and into the light.