Miscarriage is one of the most taboo subjects that I have ever encountered. This year more women have become vocal about their beliefs, and experiences. They have been speaking out on personal experiences including abortion, sexual assault, work place discrimination and inequality. So why is miscarriage still so hushed?
I have had two miscarriages, most of the people in my life are only aware of the second one that happened on Christmas day in 2016. We were coming up on four weeks along when I miscarried. In a single moment I lost my hopes, and fantasies for the future. Instead they were replaced by questions and fears. My body was still heavily carrying the signs of early pregnancy, but here I was grieving for a baby that I would never get to meet. My healing process included the hurdle that two of my closest friends had just announced their early pregnancies days before this happened. Somehow without planning three of us had conceived at the same time. In my head I had envisioned our babies growing up as great friends. I guessed at what we each would be having, and who would give birth first. I had no idea that in a few days I would never get to part of that story.
The day after my miscarriage I skipped the annual Boxing Day get together that our group does as there was no way that I could be there surrounded by pregnant friends, children, and everyone celebrating. I spent the day obsessing over social media hoping that someone would post a photo of the gathering as I was having serious fear of missing out. When I wasn’t obsessing over missing out I spent hours googling what I could have possible done wrong. I went back to work the next day and threw myself into my work as I had to keep myself busy from obsessing over what I could have possibly done wrong. This was my coping mechanism, and I had used it well in 2013 when my mum had passed away so suddenly and unexpectedly.
The next few weeks were a blur of sadness.
Friends that I hadn’t told yet were checking in to see how I was feeling and if I was looking forward to what should have been an upcoming ultrasound appointment to check my pregnancy progress. Instead of answering their texts and messages with fun little pregnancy symptom stories, I was trying to keep composed while I informed them that I had miscarried.
After my miscarriage I also experienced isolation from friends for the first time. My friends that were happily into their second trimester were eagerly registering for their showers to come. They made a group date of shopping and an afternoon hang out, even the non pregnant friends that already had kids were invited. I learned of this group date days later when I saw the pictures with captions of how much fun they had shopping, and hanging out.
I felt like my closest girlfriends were treating me like the pregnancy pariah.
They obviously were not, and instead were being considerate and didn’t want to put me in an environment that was full of baby stuff. Instead if felt like the whole world was advancing without me. It was new feelings of loneliness, and isolation that had come along with my miscarriage. I deactivated my social media accounts shortly after this. I needed a break from the ultrasound photos, pictures of adorable children, and seeing the hashtag “momlife”.
After my miscarriage I listened to people tell me “you should have rested more”, like I was back in 1860 and had servants to tend to my needs. “You shouldn’t have worked so hard” was my favourite criticism; I am an accountant, so obviously all of those keystrokes and numerical calculations must have contributed to my miscarriage. I also endured phrases like “it wasn’t meant to be”, “at least you can get pregnant”, and was asked, “When will you try again?” It is not really surprising that women don’t speak of their miscarriages when the response is so negative and invasive when they do.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month lets break the silence.
If you have a friend or family member who has experienced miscarriage, here are three things you can do to help:
- Check in on her every few days for at least a month or so. Just let her know that you’re thinking about her.
- When you speak with her let her talk about it for as long as she needs to.
- Share this post, or any story on miscarriage that you come across with her so she knows that she’s not alone.