Why we need to talk about miscarriage

When you have a miscarriage, it feels like you are the only woman in the entire world who can’t just sneeze and pop a baby out of nowhere. You venture out, and suddenly everywhere you look are babies, and baby things. Every woman you walk past instantly sprouts a baby bump. Once quirky cafes morph into the HQ of enormous NCT groups, shops fill up with tiny cute clothes, the pavements are littered with shiny new families, and social media becomes one long list of other people’s happy announcements. You feel like you’re the only one who’s body has let you down so completely.

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But the statistics say something completely different: around 1 in 8 couples will have trouble conceiving, and 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. How can this be if you’re the only one?

The reality is that you really, really aren’t. But nobody talks about it and so nobody knows.

It is commonly agreed that it’s ‘best’ to wait until at least 12 weeks before announcing your pregnancy. I’d never thought about it much before, it seems sensible I guess, in case something goes wrong. But what this actually means is that it is commonly agreed that if something does ‘go wrong’ that its best that nobody knows. In a world that is gradually and cautiously coming around to the idea of talking about tough subjects such as mental health, for some reason miscarriage is still one of the great taboos.

Suffering a miscarriage was one of the hardest times of my life, and it is the tough times when you really need the support of your friends and family. But how can anyone support you if they don’t know that you’re struggling. I was already confused and upset by the fact that I felt like I was grieving something that had never existed, and what made that even harder is that to the outside world it never had. The pressure to feel normal again is never greater than when nobody knows that you aren’t.

When I went back to work everyone thought I’d been off with a nasty bout of tonsillitis. Seemingly endless people would come up to me each day with a smile on their face asking cheerily if I was “feeling better yet?”. I wasn’t. And I wanted to tell them all to shut up and stop asking me that stupid question. I felt angry at people who were just being nice, which made me feel even worse. Not only was I biologically inept, I was a horrible person too.

Over the coming few weeks we gradually took the decision that we needed to tell a few people around us, particularly because most of our friends are either pregnant or have had children recently. We needed their support, and we needed their sensitivity. With each person we told it felt like a little bit of the weight had been lifted. It felt like it actually was ‘ok to not be ok’, and that made me feel, well, more ok! But the greatest surprise was that nearly every woman I told had been there is some way too, whether personally or someone very close to them. The more people I told, the more people opened up to me and shared their stories – although always in hushed voices, after an over-the-shoulder glance that no-one was listening. And I began to realise that I wasn’t the only one – far from it. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the people who do get pregnant straight away, and go on to have an exciting and uneventful pregnancy culminating in a problem-free birth and a healthy baby are probably the odd ones out.

In my personal life I was starting to feel like I was gaining some control again, but I was still really struggling with work. I was called into a fairly unpleasant meeting with my seniors, who said that they knew I’d been having a tough time but my “negative ambience” was affecting the practice. I was absolutely devastated; if I’d been feeling negative about work before, I felt about a thousand times worse now.

For a few days I felt like this was something I simply wasn’t strong enough to bounce back from positively, I just couldn’t pretend to be the person everyone wanted me to be. But eventually I realised I needed to do something to take back control of my emotions and how I was feeling at work. So I did something pretty unorthodox. I sent an internal email around the entire staff team – people I was close to, and people that I wasn’t – and I told them what had happened. I apologised if I hadn’t been myself, and that it was not intended as an excuse, but I hoped it would help if people understood why. I didn’t need anyone to acknowledge what I’d written, or to feel like they needed to say something, but in fact nearly everyone did. And almost straight away I began to feel the huge pressure of trying to pretend everything as tip top sliding away. After apologising for not being myself, and people accepting this, I had taken the first step towards feeling like me again. It was such a huge relief. But they didn’t just say how sorry they were, almost every person said how brave it had been to send the message.

It was a brave thing to do, and I was terrified at the time that I was making a huge mistake – there is still a very British negativity around ‘airing your dirty laundry’. But isn’t it sad that it is considered so brave. Shouldn’t it be fairly normal to talk about something that affects 1 in 4 women in their lifetime, particularly at a time when you desperately need other peoples support, or at the very least their sensitivity.

I’m glad I waited a few weeks before beginning to open-up, because you have to reach a place where you can accept that you aren’t in control of other people’s reactions, and cope with this. That took me a little time. Some people won’t know what to say, and a few will probably say the wrong thing – and that doesn’t mean they don’t care. But the biggest thing I’ve learnt by sharing my experience (be it with close friends, work colleagues or strangers) is that 99% of people are kind. So really you don’t have to be that brave. It is honestly so much easier than the pressure of keeping it all inside.

Each time one woman is brave enough to share her story of miscarriage or infertility, they open the way for so many more to share theirs and little by little it becomes less scary, and more normal. I am absolutely not saying that it is the right thing for everyone to talk about, so nobody reading this should feel a pressure to do so, but it is definitely wrong for any woman (or man) to feel you can’t, or that you shouldn’t talk about miscarriage, and we need to change that.

13 thoughts on “Why we need to talk about miscarriage

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I didn’t realize how common miscarriages were. I knew they weren’t rare, but wow 1 in 4 women. I’ve never been pregnant before. But being a childless woman in my thirties sometimes seeing women younger than me having children makes me feel a bit worried about my own future. Am I too old? Coincidentally, today, I’ll be visiting a friend who just had her first child. I am so happy for her, but it’s hard to not think of my own situation. Thank you especially for that last paragraph. Sharing your story can be so difficult, but it can open you up to new people and create a sense of community as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly- and maybe knowing how many people it affects makes talking to someone in that position slightly less daunting. Fertility is always a deeply personal subject to every woman, whether or not they want children and whether or not they’ve yet experienced any issues with it. I think every woman worries, and hopefully reducing the stigma surrounding that would make every one of those women worry slightly less. Sending my love 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally agree. When I lost my baby, I was just at the 12 week stage and ready to announce my pregnancy, sadly I didn’t get the chance. I now try to tell as many pregnant friends, family to announce their pregnant as soon as possible. My opinion is that if people know about your pregnancy they can maybe have some empathy. In all honesty people can be cruel in their comment regarding miscarriage.
    ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure they can, and this is why I did value the fact that I was in control of when and who I told. The hardest part is letting go of that privacy and opening yourself up to others reactions. But other than one “do you think you exercised too much and that’s what did it” every single person has been kind without exception. Maybe I’ve been lucky. Equally I feel if was talked about more people would have a much greater understanding- both of themselves and others. If I’d known how common it was I think I’d have spent less energy blaming myself and assuming I’d done something wrong, or their was something wrong with me. Being honest can be tough, but it’s rarely wrong..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I blamed myself too. That’s the hardest part of misscarriage, when you don’t get a answer as to why it happened. I don’t think I’ll ever get over my loss but I have to be happy that I have 2 beautiful daughters ♥️♥️ it took me 10 years to have my first daughter and another 7 to have second daughter. 7 years later I had a misscarriage 😦 I gave up after that. Discussions like this can help and make people aware of our feelings. X

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh my word.. I can’t begin to imagine how traumatic that must have been. I’m so happy for you that you have your lovely daughters now, but it in no way undoes what you went through. Brave lady ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey lovely. This is such a brilliant post. It is so true that miscarriage and baby loss still aren’t spoken about enough. And it means so many women go through the physical, emotional and mental pain alone. I was lucky to have my Mum’s support, as she had lost her first baby. But I still felt lonely and isolated. However, because i’ve always been open about my mental health, I was always open about the miscarriages too. It helped and so many women have opened up to me about their experiences. But more than anything I want something good to come out of the loss of our four babies. And that’s my desire to help other woman who are going through this heartbreaking experience. Sending you big hugs and lots of love Lucy xxxx

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  4. I absolutely love this. Thank you for sharing.
    I had a miscarriage in February at 16 weeks, and I was very open about the experience. I had several women inbox me, saying they had one too, but never spoke about it. Some of them still had partners who didn’t even know.

    I find what you did to be extremely courageous and I want to thank you for being open about your experience. I am sorry you went through it at all, but thank you for turning it into a way to help other women and their partners know that they are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences. Having been through it I always find it makes me feel quite emotional hearing about other women, it just breaks my heart knowing how hard it is. Well done for being so open, it isn’t the right thing for everyone but I hope that if more people are that’ll make other women feel like they can share, if they want to. I was at a party recently and there were 6 women round the table, and I know at least 3 of us have had a miscarriage in the last 6 months.. but I also know that I’d have no idea about that fact if I hadn’t opened up about mine. So we all would have thought we were alone. That really struck me.
      Keep going, keek doing whatever it is you need. And know there’s a whole load of us out there to support you if you ever need us 😘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much; just reading your response made me tear up. It’s so nice to know that there are others here for support. That must have been a powerful moment for you- seeing the impact of being open about it and being surrounded by the other women. It’s powerful; I’m sorry for their losses too. We are most definitely not alone. I hope you know I am here for you also! Thanks again, I really appreciate it. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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