Many women who experience pregnancy loss hold the details as a closely-guarded secret, never talking openly about the experience. When I lost my pregnancy at 21 weeks, any time I talked about it, even with close friends, I could tell the other person was uncomfortable and the subject changed quickly. Eventually, I just stopped bringing it up.
I didn’t want to make people feel awkward or
uncomfortable, so I dealt with my miscarriage on my own, without talking about
it to anyone. The desire to accommodate other people’s feelings is pretty
common for women and a major contributor to the silence surrounding pregnancy
Other’s judgement was also a concern. There was a fear people would assume I’d done something to cause my miscarriage, that I was responsible for my body’s failure. If life in the 21st century has taught us anything, it’s that people can be cruel, especially online. That lesson, that the internet is a place fraught with trolls and bullies, carried over for me into real life.
I assumed if people knew the details of my loss, even the tiniest, most insignificant part of my ordeal, they’d come after me with metaphorical torches and pitchforks. So I suffered in silence, alone. I stopped trying to share my experience. Stopped trying to explain it to people in the hope they’d offer some magic words to make the heartache go away. Stopped trusting people to be kind and compassionate.
As the years passed, and social media grew to become the behemoth it is today, I found I wasn’t alone. I was able to share my story and grief with others who’d experienced miscarriage. The stigma was still there, though. We talked about our losses in closed groups and private chats. We shared our fears and sorrow, but only in whispers.
Recently, there’s been a shift in the conversation. Celebrities like Hilaria Baldwin are taking to social media to share their stories to help break miscarriage taboo. In April of this year, Baldwin shared her miscarriage story on Instagram and the post went viral. She wrote, “I have no shame or embarrassment with this experience. I want to be a part of the effort to normalize miscarriage and remove the stigma from it.” The post currently has over 120,000 likes and has been shared thousands of times across multiple social media platforms.
Baldwin isn’t alone. Public figures the likes of Michelle Obama and Beyonce have also spoken out about their miscarriages in recent years. Understanding miscarriage can happen to anyone, goes a long way in destigmatizing loss. As the conversation around miscarriage and pregnancy loss advances, women can be more comfortable sharing their stories and experiences.
The stigma is beginning to recede as women’s health and reproductive health gain attention and a wider, more public audience. People are opening up about their grief. Telling their stories. Sharing their pain. And the misconceptions, prejudice, and misinformation will, hopefully, slough away, allowing women, like me, to own our grief.