Why I Don’t Talk About My Miscarriage


I know why I stopped talking about my miscarriage. Despite the best intentions of my loved ones and friends, I didn’t feel like the majority of their reactions acknowledged how deeply I felt about my experience. More often than not I received what felt like off-the-cuff or trite replies. People intended no harm, but the words stung more often than not.

The worst part is that these conversations made me feel terrible for taking the experience so hard, and for grieving for something so brief and intangible. So, I stopped talking about my miscarriage because few that I spoke to recognized it for the loss that I felt it was.

 

The Pregnancy

After 12 months of trying, I found out I was pregnant. Joy! I figured out an approximate due date and added each week of the pregnancy to my calendar. I made appointments with my doctor and downloaded an app to follow the growth of the baby. I figured out when we would have our ultrasounds and the cut-off date for any vacations. I wondered if we would have a boy or a girl. I looked at maternity clothes and thought about what I might want for each season. I thought about how best to wrap up my job for maternity leave. Almost everything I was thinking about revolved around that baby. It was a list of seemingly inconsequential items that, as it turns out, were actually very meaningful to me. They made the pregnancy feel real.

 

The Miscarriage

When I started to approach the end of my first trimester with very few symptoms, I began to get suspicious. Then the bleeding started. First a little. Then more. Then the pain came. It was off to the hospital. Then, lots of waiting and tears. Finally, an ultrasound confirmed there was no fetal heartbeat. There were decisions to be made (that I found very difficult) about how to treat my inevitable miscarriage. I opted for a D&C to close out the experience. I desperately wanted to pretend that I was OK and simply move on with life, but the loss took me down both physically and emotionally.

 

The Aftermath – and Why I Stopped Talking

I was emotionally fragile and in physical pain. I wasn’t interested in discussing my experience, but there were people in my life who needed to know for various reasons. There is no right way to react to a very individual experience. Different people will prefer different approaches, this I know. There are, however, some less-than-ideal replies to such news. Most of these answers went something like:

“You can try for another baby later.”

Of course I can. That is a rational answer to my emotional problem. This was a baby to me. With a due date and first year, all imagined out. And it had already taken me 12 months to get this far. I didn’t even know if I would get pregnant again.

“It’s really common to miscarry.”

This is also very true. Although I know people say it to bring comfort, my pain does not feel common. It is acute and personal.

“Well, it’s just the body’s way of saying it didn’t get it right.”

This is probably also true. But when I was emotional and having a hard time thinking rationally, this statement only made me wonder if the miscarriage may have been my fault – even though logically I knew it wasn’t. I also hated thinking of my imagined baby as “not right.”

“What is meant to be will be.”

I think this is just an instinctual reply to an uncomfortable conversation. But it was annoying to hear nonetheless. What is the purpose of this pain and why does it have to be this way for me?

“At least was early on.”

This is probably true, too. I can’t even imagine the grief involved in a late-term loss. But this baby was also 12 months in the making. Worst of all, this statement made me feel downright foolish for grieving so hard for something that perhaps wasn’t even real after all. I was mad that I had to justify that the pain I felt was real.

 

It Isn’t All Bad

Now that I’ve had some time to heal from this experience, I can see the good things came from the conversations I had with people about it. It was surprising to discover that a number of women I know have had similar experiences. These conversations are empowering. Women and couples who have been through the experience seemed to speak on the topic in a way that I could relate to.

If I hadn’t personally had a miscarriage, my response to a friend in a similar situation would very likely have been one (or a mixture) of the list above. I really wasn’t aware of how much of an impact the experience had. I wonder if the name “miscarriage” has a role to play in how others react to the news. It’s a tidy and detached name that does a poor job of even hinting at what actually happens. The experience isn’t best described as a “failure” or “mistake” like the word suggests. I prefer to call this experience by the name that better approximates the experience I had, and that others around me have spoken of. This is why I still don’t talk about my miscarriage. But I have a lot to say about my pregnancy loss.

Related: 23 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Pregnancy After Loss
Topics:Loss
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4 Comments

  • Thank you so much for writing this article. Your experience was so similar to mine in terms of reactions from family and friends. Its so comforting to read this and know I’m not alone. I did have my rainbow baby, plus baby #2– two beautiful girls.

  • “Well, it’s just the body’s way of saying it didn’t get it right.”

    This one hurts! I asked for tests to be done after our second miscarriage and the news came back that our baby was a little boy and he had Down Syndrome. And then our doctor said it was my body’s way of saying it didn’t get it right. What a horribly hurtful thing to say! Our baby was planned, loved and wanted. I would sell my soul to the devil to have just one more moment with that “not right” little person because he meant the world to me. I never went back to that doctor, her comments were unforgiveable.

  • When we were trying for our second, we suffered 4 miscarriages, including one at 12 weeks, right after I had publicly announced the pregnancy. (Our first had been conceived after 2 years of infertility, so we were torn up reliving all that on top of the losses and the worry that we’d never have another child. It’s a hell I’d never wish on anyone.) The comments I got were so ridiculous: “but you’re so young!” “It’ll happen, don’t worry” “just be thankful for the one you have” (that one always came from people with 2-3 kids themselves), and on and on… I swear, if I had a dollar for every one, we’d be rich.

    (Btw, we did have our rainbow baby, and then completely defied all odds with a total surprise baby, but those four years of infertility and miscarriages changed me, and really showed me the true colors of those around me.)

  • <3 I love this – the ending gave me goosebumps! Thank you so much for sharing so openly to help educate people, and I'm so sorry for your loss. What a perfect post to kick off October's Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

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