The shock flooded me as my heavy legs fell lifeless onto the cold, hard, impersonal hospital table, blood draining from my white face, I lay still and confused. It was an early miscarriage, insignificant in the medical world, yet turning mine upside down.
Why didn’t I realize how common this was? Why? Because we actually don’t talk about THIS that much. And maybe THIS isn’t what I want to think about right now either. In truth, I would rather be sharing hilarious antics from my spicy toddler. However, recently sitting with one too many friends in the hours of their pregnancy losses, I am here, and something about the dynamic of this loss keeps coming back to me.
You see, the first trimester a woman is pregnant she is often taught to keep this information secret to avoid the pain of having to explain a potential miscarriage. But that’s just it. While I understand to some, grieving in complete privacy is their chosen comfort, for many it isn’t always possible, or even comforting. I was one of the later.
I felt dirty, gullible, and filled with an inexlpicable shame.
When I found myself telling people I had a miscarriage, I whispered it as if I was sharing a guilty secret. I had this deeply ingrained assumption that miscarriage equated to some sort of inappropriate potty talk you are not supposed to openly discuss. It was strange. In fact, it seemed this was how the world wanted me to process this — My secret to tuck away and move on from.
My bad. Just kidding. Pat on the back. Better luck next time.
But I wasn’t OK. For starters, beyond the emotional and spiritual brokenness I felt, I was also in HORRIBLE physical pain. No one really talks about that piece, but how can they when miscarriage is oftentimes still such a secret?
I wonder though… Is the way we deal with first trimester pregnancy a Hail Mary plea not to get our hopes up? Is the pregnancy not real or official because we haven’t crossed this threshold of increased survival odds yet? It feels real. Where is the space for grief when loss unfolds within this twelve-week oblivion? Great loss hurts immeasurably regardless if our largest anxieties were confirmed or our greatest hopes decimated. So it seems to make sense to celebrate the moments we know we have now.
Which is why by my third pregnancy, I chose to leave this space of anxiety, and celebrate my pregnancy the moments I was pregnant. If I were to lose this baby at any point in my pregnancy it would destroy me with the same hammer regardless if I was expecting the worst or the best. Even though I knew better, I pretty much shouted “I’m pregnant!” from the rooftops to anyone and everyone the second that plus sign glittered onto that ritualistic plastic stick. Because gosh darn it, I was pregnant, and I was excited about that!
Friends would look at me confused as I openly broached the subject of pregnancy “this early on,” but I explained if I had a miscarriage I wouldn’t have anything to hide. (OK… OK… I may or may not be one of those people that when they abstain from a happy hour drink it only takes one guess to figure out, “She’s pregnant!” …So my friends probably wouldn’t have been THAT in the dark too long either way, but still…).
A miscarriage evokes a different reaction and experience in each person, so I make no extrapolations in regards to what is best for someone else in terms of processing this trauma and what information to hold in verses release. That said, speaking for myself, I grew to see that miscarriage is NOT a word that must be whispered. It is more than OK to openly celebrate pregnancy whenever you want to… even early on, because you are in fact pregnant. And that grief you feel friend from your early miscarriage—That is REAL too.
Yes, miscarriage is always a possibility, especially early on. But the part of miscarriage that suffocated my spirit most was having little validation for both my initial joy and my subsequent loss. If it is taboo to tell people you are pregnant early on, then that makes miscarriage feel taboo and often irrelevant as well. There isn’t an easy answer. Having to explain to people that knew you were pregnant, that you now miscarried can be just as heartbreaking as facing people as if all is normal, all the while clothed in an invisible pain.
Your life. Your body. Your health. Your news. But let’s fight the taboo of how we talk about miscarriage.
Please shout your support for all these secret losses expecting parents all too often suffer through in silence.