It’s commonly reported that nearly one in four pregnancies end in loss. About one in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. In 2018, evolutionary geneticist William Richard Rice of the University of California, Santa Barbara, reported that most human pregnancies end in miscarriage. As one of my obstetricians said, in an attempt at consolation: “Ask ten women if they’ve miscarried. Nine will say yes, and the tenth is lying.” In fact, women may miscarry before they realize they are pregnant, or they miscarry at home and do not report it.
And yet, despite knowing this information, my losses (I had four) felt like a personal affront. The “facts” didn’t help me. That’s the thing-knowledge and emotion are two very different things.
In recent years, there has been more in the news about miscarriage, emphasizing how common it is. The message is, “You are not alone.” And, yes, it is nice to know that other women also go through this. But, I still feel like we are all going through it privately. We are all in our own personal hells, concealing from the world the truths of the physical and emotional pain we are enduring.
There is an unofficial “rule” that women should not announce their pregnancy until it’s past the precarious first-trimester mark. I abided by this rule without considering why. I think some of the silence around miscarriage starts with the silence around pregnancy, in general (at least pregnancy in the first trimester). Now when I consider why, I’m left to conclude that women associate embarrassment, shame, and guilt with losing a pregnancy, so we, too, “think” it’s best to remain tight-lipped.
The problem, of course, was that when I did suffer a loss, I felt so alone because nobody had even known I was pregnant and my loss seemed like too much to explain. And, yes, there was the embarrassment/shame/guilt factor. Talking about my losses felt like shouting from the rooftop, “Hey, I totally failed to do this thing that my body was supposedly made to do!”
When I started sharing my losses with other women, the vast majority of them said something like, “Oh, yeah, I had a miscarriage when…” Even my mom confessed that she’d had a miscarriage between my birth and my sister’s birth.
When Michelle Obama opened up about her own miscarriage, she said, “I felt lost and alone, and I felt like I failed. Because I didn’t know how common miscarriages are. Because we don’t’ talk about it. We sit in our pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
To this day, every time someone tells me of their own loss, my reaction is one of shock-and compassion. How did they go through this, and I had no idea? Why are we all hiding? Let’s stop hiding. Let’s stop the silence. That is the only way to healing and, if we’re talking about it, we can do some of it together.
This post was written by Kim Hooper, with content excerpted from All the Love: Healing Your Heart and Finding Meaning After Pregnancy Loss.
Originally published at https://alltheloveafterloss.com.