Somewhere along the line, “miscarriage” became a taboo word — as if it should be stored in a brown paper bag like a liquor bottle.
It’s an experience many women have gone through, and yet few are comfortable sharing. It’s the pain of losing a small baby for some; others feel as if they’re wearing a badge of shame, like they failed a woman’s most primal action.
A few times, I’ve witnessed a Facebook friend announce her pregnancy, only to later delete any mention of her coming arrival, hoping to erase any proof that this little life ever existed. I’m not saying it’s a wrong approach; we are all allowed to grieve our own way. I simply wonder why so many wish to not recognize this short life. Why is talking about the death of a baby off-limits?
We talk about everything else. Just flip on Facebook and I get to read about divorce, birth, potty training, bowel movements, and any lame thought that pops into a head, as if verbal Tourette’s has taken over the keyboard. I’m guilty of this, too, but I question why we avoid topics that can really help a suffering life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of women lose a baby before the actual birth; this means stillbirth (20 weeks of gestation) or miscarriage. It amounts to about 16 percent of births in the United States. Mothers who feel alone — but in reality are surrounded by women who know the devastation a grieving parent is wading through — are often looking for help to understand what just happened.
A common slap-in-the-face to those who lost a baby in utero is caused by those closest to the family, those who are either callous or ignorant of what’s going on around them. Yes, there are many parents who have experienced this type of loss, but there are even more who have not, so the situation leaves them speechless. They may have no idea what to say, so they often say the wrong thing. To those, I write: Don’t dismiss this life, don’t dismiss the grief, don’t say “it was a clump of cells” or “it’s your body’s way of getting rid of something unhealthy,” because it really was something loved from the second it was realized.
Ann Romney recently revealed her miscarriage in a CBS interview. She described the shock and excitement after learning she conceived while in her 40s. Romney then shared the story of losing the baby and waking her husband so he could drive her to the hospital at 6 in the morning.
It was the first time Romney spoke publicly about the loss; in fact, Romney endured multiple miscarriages that weren’t revealed. Thanks to the Internet, one can simply Google “miscarriage” to be connected to a slew of families who suffered the death of their fetus. Many of those who write a blog say it was therapeutic to share, a chance to connect to others dealing in death.
More and more mothers are rejecting this idea that miscarriage isn’t supposed to be talked about in public. Instead, they hire photographers to shoot pictures of their tiny babies, celebrating the months they shared together, living in one body.
Programs like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep bring grieving parents together with professional photographers to capture those few moments these families have together. Some choose to share these photos; some put them away for themselves to remember what was lost. I think it’s touching to remember these brief but important lives.
Again, we all have a the right to grieve how we want, we earned it, after all, but to those mothers carrying on after a miscarriage, who feel like they’re heading down a dark tunnel, remember: You are not alone.
Mothers are out there who can share their stories to help ease your own. Your baby, your loss, your devastation doesn’t have to be a secret.