Let’s start talking about miscarriage openly and honestly – it’s time to break the taboo
When Chrissy Teigen shared her devastation at the loss of her son Jack halfway through her pregnancy, she was met with an outpouring of support, but she was also criticised for sharing her grief publicly. There is a discomfort around grief, and many people simply do not know how to react to someone grieving a loss of any kind.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet for something so heartbreakingly common, miscarriage has remained an event that people tend to keep quiet. How we talk about pregnancy and its various joys, indignities, and triumphs has changed for the better – we are no longer expected to ‘glow’, it’s ok to acknowledge that it’s necessary to brace for a sneeze or cough lest you pee a little, and women are free to declare that for some of us, pregnancy is simply not an enjoyable experience. However, discussing miscarriage is a different matter.
There is still a stigma around miscarriage; many feel compelled to keep their pregnancy quiet prior to the 12-week scan, as this is traditionally when you will undergo testing for any genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. But then of course it’s difficult to drop a miscarriage into conversation if no one knew you were pregnant to begin with. The result is that many women and their partners suffer through a miscarriage in silence, unsure of how or if to share their loss.
Four out of ten women at Sassy Mama have suffered pregnancy losses, and we wanted to share our miscarriage stories and lend our voices to the conversation. We hope that more women feel comfortable talking about their own miscarriages, and that we can work together to normalise the conversation around pregnancy and infant loss so that no mama is left out there suffering in silence.
“I was around seven weeks into my second pregnancy when I had a miscarriage. Some light spotting turned into heavy bleeding and cramping and I was left in no doubt about what was happening. It was an awful experience, and it made me feel so very sad, but I felt the loss of a pregnancy rather than the loss of a baby. I had already told several friends that I was pregnant, so I was forced to let them know what had happened. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, as some of them shared that they had miscarried in the past too. I knew statistically how common they were, but to hear from people I actually knew was very comforting.
For me, the hardest part of the experience was not the miscarriage itself, but being pregnant again afterward. The joy that had accompanied my first pregnancy was absent; instead, there was fear – fear of getting too excited, fear of going to the toilet and seeing blood, fear of another miscarriage. I have such admiration for women who persevere through multiple miscarriages, I can only imagine how much harder it gets to remain positive and find joy in the experience.
People often comment on the 4.5 year age gap between my kids and I struggle with whether to tell them the reason, not because I’m uncomfortable but because I’m worried they will be. Recently, I have had more and more conversations where people have been comfortable sharing their pregnancy losses, and I think this is such a positive thing. I hope that anyone who experiences a miscarriage feels comfortable talking about it as much or as little as they need to, and takes comfort in talking to others who have experienced a loss. But perhaps most importantly, I hope they know that there is a whole spectrum of emotion associated with miscarriage, and wherever you fall on that spectrum is ok.”
“I had 2 miscarriages when I was trying for my second child, and I talk about them as much as I can. Because I’m on a mission to make moms who go through this not feel alone anymore. To stop women from feeling like this is a taboo to speak about. A miscarriage can happen to 1 in every 4 recognised pregnancies. This means the number is even higher if we consider cases where the woman didn’t even realise she was pregnant to begin with. And yet there is so much hush around this topic, like it’s a curse not to be spoken of lest it happens to those who speak of it.
In my first miscarriage, I had celebrated being pregnant and was just reveling in the bliss of it all, when I started bleeding at five weeks. If you google what a foetus looks like at five weeks, it barely looks like anything close to resembling a baby. And yet the loss was so real and so painful. I got pregnant again fairly quickly and when I went past the five-week mark, I felt safe. I even saw the heartbeat at six weeks. Then at my eight-week scan – nothing. The doctors and ultrasound tech at KKH were simply AMAZING through all of this. So sensitive and gentle with me that day. I will never forget being sent to the special room with the super accurate ultrasound machine. Nothing was told to me yet. I was anxious. And I’ll never forget when she scribbled “NHB” on the piece of paper. What did that mean? No Heart Beat? And indeed that’s what it was.
After this loss, I went into a terrible depression. I couldn’t get out of bed for days. I couldn’t talk to anyone for weeks and even months. I quit my well-paying corporate job overnight. It was a dark, dark time. When I slowly re-emerged, I decided to start a small home business instead of going back to corporate life, a business related to pregnancy. And while networking, I met editors from a local parenting magazine who wanted to write my story. I agreed because of how alone I felt during my depression. I don’t want anyone to feel this alone. I wanted women to read this and think: Yes, I feel heard!”
“I had a miscarriage after I had my first child. We were trying for another baby and since I got pregnant so easily the first time around, I really didn’t expect anything to go wrong. It was early in the pregnancy when I had my miscarriage. To my surprise it didn’t affect me as much as people around me thought it would. I ended up feeling guilty for not feeling more miserable than I was. Actually it made me feel incredibly lucky to have had my daughter. If it had happened for my first baby I think it would have been a lot harder. But having to look after an active toddler that needed loads of attention and who was giving me so much love made it much easier. At the time, knowing that miscarriages happen quite often also helped me accept it and move on. I opened up to friends who shared their experiences with me and I realised I wasn’t alone. Luckily, I soon became pregnant again and this time the pregnancy went to term and I gave birth to my second child.”
“Miscarriage sucks. While trying for our first we had the misfortune of experiencing multiple miscarriages. With our first pregnancy, we had a great 6-week appointment with a visible heart flicker but by 8-weeks there was no heartbeat. A missed miscarriage. For me one of the hardest parts was waiting to miscarry; after a torturous week of waiting I opted for a D&C. Our second pregnancy was a whirlwind. Immediately at 6-weeks my levels were not progressing as they should be and it was deemed an unviable pregnancy which we chose to medically terminate. I was devastated. One miscarriage felt normal; two in a row was crushing and it only got worse…
We ran a lot of tests looking for answers but like so many on a similar path there were no answers. We did get a massive surprise though when the doctor called us and asked us to come to her office in 30 min and that’s when we heard “I have seen this once before…” Turns out we were still pregnant; it was a fairly rare heterotopic pregnancy which is a multiple pregnancy where one implants in the uterus and the other is ectopic. Immediately going through another loss was mentally exhausting and an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening, comes with its own unique challenges.
After getting pregnant fairly easily the first two times, the last thing I expected was to struggle to conceive again. Struggling to conceive is an entirely different heartbreaking, emotional, and exhausting journey, especially after loss. It took us almost a year to get pregnant again.
This week I am 28-weeks with what will hopefully be my triple rainbow baby. Hitting that 3rd-trimester milestone is a lot more emotional than I expected it to be and one that not so long ago felt impossible. Pregnancy after multiple miscarriages isn’t the same and I feel a bit robbed of the blissful innocence and pure excitement of my first pregnancy. With our first positive pregnancy test, we were so excited and it was a magical time. We were headed home for the holidays and shared the news with our parents in person at 5-weeks. I started shopping, reading books, and daydreaming of the nursery. Our current pregnancy was of course met with happiness but also intense fear. In my mind, I just kept thinking “I can’t lose this one too.” We waited to tell our parents until 15-weeks, just this past week shared the news with our extended families, and have barely shopped. I have been lucky to have a relatively easy pregnancy so far. People always ask how you are feeling as it relates to nausea or other physical symptoms; for me, the hardest part has been mental and not knowing whether we will get to meet this one.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve a miscarriage. We were fairly private about our losses and subsequent fertility struggles. We shared the news with the family and close friends that we wanted to and that was enough support for us. For me, I was never embarrassed or ashamed of our losses but I valued not sharing the news with everyone because it allowed me to maintain a sense of normalcy in my life socially and at work that wasn’t consumed by the sadness. It was and still is a profoundly sad time for us and just because we are expecting now doesn’t make it hurt any less. I think of the ones we lost every day and wonder who they would have been. As we share the news of our current pregnancy it has become important to us to be open and vulnerable about our journey because so many couples are also experiencing their own struggles and it is very normal. Miscarriage, pregnancy loss and infertility can feel like a lonely road but it is important to remember that you are not alone.”
If you have suffered a pregnancy loss or stillbirth and are seeking support, there are a number of organisations and individuals who can help. You can also speak to your OBGYN or GP if you need a referral to a support service.
- KK Hospital Women’s Mental Wellness Service
- NUH Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Clinic
- Child Bereavement Support (Singapore)
- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group Singapore
- More Mindful
Lead image via Getty, image #2 via Pixabay