Thank you all for the kind responses to my Huffington Post piece, The Storm That Follows a Lost Pregnancy. One comment, though, got me thinking. A Facebook friend said, “That must have been hard to share.” In some ways, it was. I was nervous to have people who know me read my story; but I was not scared to have other people, the entire internet really, read it. Maybe because even though I’m giving my name, to strangers I still feel like I’m anonymous.
But why should I feel anxious about sharing it with the people in my life? Shouldn’t those be the people you want to share your struggles with?
I think there is still a pervading feeling in our culture that pregnancy loss, and infertility, shouldn’t be talked about. These issues are still hushed-up, still only whispered about, still stigmatized. Some people think that these things should be private, that they are nobody else’s business. And while it’s true that others should respect our privacy, is the real reason we feel these topics should be private because there is a sense of guilt and shame around them?
While trying to get pregnant, I saw differing ways of handing loss. Many women who miscarried said they wished they hadn’t told everyone they were pregnant because then after their loss, they had to “untell.” My feeling on this was…so what? I was pregnant and now I’m not anymore. Maybe then people can offer their support, if only to lend an “I’m sorry.” OK, it’s fair to just not want to talk about it to acquaintances you don’t know well. But keeping quiet also means we suffer alone because the world does not know the sorrow we are going through. Everyone will just expect us to carry on as normal, when inside we are in mourning.
After my Huff Post story, some people I know sent me private messages to tell me that they went through something similar, and I had no idea. Other people, mostly mom friends I’ve met since having my son, said they had no idea what I had gone through. And why would they – I had not talked about it. It’s hard to bring miscarriage into normal conversation. And if you do, you often just gloss over it because it can make people uncomfortable. I remember once a few months after losing my baby, I got a compliment from a very good friend on a necklace I was wearing. I thanked her and said it was to remember my daughter, and it stopped the conversation short. My friend and her husband were visibly uncomfortable. But why should they be? Why can’t we acknowledge miscarriage the way we do other deaths?
There is no word to describe someone who’s lost a pregnancy or a child. We simply don’t have the words to talk about something that so many people go through. And I want to change that. It wasn’t hard to share my story, because that’s what I want to do as a writer, a blogger and a woman. To talk about the things that we don’t talk about.
Do you have a story you want to share?