I don’t believe that there are worse ways to lose a baby. I have never listened to someone else’s story and thought that it was worth less based on whether the pregnancy was planned, or how many weeks they were. In fact, I’ve always thought a molar pregnancy must be one of the hardest and most confusing ways to experience loss.
As always though, we don’t afford ourselves, and our own story, the same courtesy. As the blog has grown, I’ve had more and more opportunities to add my voice to the conversation, from speaking at conferences to being interviewed on podcasts.
This has been amazing, but something has been niggling away at me. I’m banging on about how common this stuff is, and my experience is the most common of them all. What gives me the right, when there are so many who have been through deafening infertility, recurrent miscarriages, and unbearably late losses to keep talking about my single early miscarriage?
More than that, what will people think if I write about how my pregnancy was never planned in the first place? How in fact we even visited an abortion clinic.
I have been suffering with what I’m going to coin Pregnancy Loss Imposter Syndrome, and I bet I’m not the only person. Here is a list of reasons I’ve given myself for why my voice is not valid in this unbelievably important conversation:
- I am only 28, I have lots of time
- We weren’t married
- My pregnancy was unplanned
- We briefly considered an abortion
- I have only had one miscarriage
- I was only 8 weeks pregnant
- There is no reason to suggest we will have any further problems
- We have not tried again, as it hasn’t been the right time
There you go, that is me laid bare. And there are many pieces of truth in that list; facts that are completely right to acknowledge, and to seek comfort in. I know I am lucky for much of it. But let’s just re-wind to the first two sentences of this piece:
I don’t believe that there are worse ways to lose a baby.
I have never listened to someone else’s story and thought that it is worth less than mine.
These words are completely true, I just wasn’t applying them to myself. There is a lovely phrase that says: “treat yourself like you would treat your best friend”. That is the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone going through infertility or baby loss. Listen to your story, your feelings, your reactions as though you were listening to your best friend. Now treat yourself with the same compassion.
Most recently, I’ve been working on creating an online support group for members of the veterinary community affected by infertility and pregnancy loss, because there’s a crazy number of us. The scary thing about this is that I’ve put myself out there in my professional peer group, not just an anonymous corner of the internet. This is when my pregnancy loss imposter syndrome got really loud.
But, with the help of some friends, I’ve realised something important. My story really is very common – and that is exactly why I should keep sharing it.
Pregnancy loss is common. This does not mean it is easy, or it is worth less than any other form of grief. My 1 in 4 early miscarriage absolutely tore me apart. It didn’t make the blindest bit of difference that we hadn’t planned it, or that “at least it was early”. I took absolutely no comfort in the fact that I was young, or “at least you know you can conceive now”. The more at leasts I heard, the more guilty I felt for the magnitude of my grief. It quite simply broke me, in a way I could never have predicted, and would never have understood until I experienced it.
This is why I’m going to keep sharing my story, exactly as it is. For the next 1 in 4.
I want the next person who faces any kind of pregnancy loss (and infertility, molar pregnancies, missed miscarriages – I could go on – are all losses) to know how valid their story is, and how valid their emotions are.
There are no at leasts with pregnancy loss. Your story matters. Your grief is real. You are not alone. Please, lets stop beating ourselves up.
I am not an imposter or a fraud. My story is important because it is so common. It is because it is so common that we need to start the conversation.