At a recent girls’ brunch, a friend I’ve known for years, shared unexpectedly, in a very emotional moment, that she had experienced a miscarriage earlier in the year. She explained that although she had wanted to tell us girls about it, she was hesitant since miscarriage is still such a taboo subject in our society. She tried to pretend that everything was fine, suffering in silence through others’ baby announcements, but in the end, her still very raw emotions took over.
Most women keep their pregnancies a secret until safely past the first trimester, the riskiest period. This means that if they suffer a miscarriage, they are forced to grieve alone and in silence. There is so much unnecessary shame surrounding miscarriages and there seems to be an unspoken understanding that we’re just not supposed to talk about it, even if it would help to do so. That doesn’t make sense to me.
While I’m obviously sad about my friend’s loss, I am perhaps even more sad that at the time of her miscarriage, when she needed us the most, she couldn’t talk about her loss and receive support from her friends. She shouldn’t have had to pretend in front of people who care about her that she was not suffering. Although I understand her hesitation over sharing this information, I feel terrible as I imagine that the isolation only exacerbated her pain.
Approximately one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. This means that there must be millions of women out there who have mourned the loss of a child. I once heard from a woman who had a miscarriage that she thought that she didn’t know anyone else who had a miscarriage, but once she began to tell people about her loss, others came out of nowhere to say that they’d been there, too.
These past few weeks have made me realize that I likely have other girlfriends who have silently suffered a loss. And chances are, you do, too.
I’ve been mentally rewinding conversations I’ve had with my girlfriends lately and second-guessing all the things we talked about that could potentially be upsetting to someone who has miscarried. As a new mama in my thirties, with so many girlfriends who are expecting and so many of us starting families, it can be easy to get caught up in excessive baby talk. When I hear that someone is expecting, I want to talk all about baby products, wacky body changes, cravings and aversions. When someone has just had a baby, I just want to talk birth stories, maternity leaves, developmental milestones. There’s just so much to talk about and at this stage in my life, I find it all really exciting and interesting. But moving forward, I need to remind myself to curb the constant baby chatter and be extra sensitive about the possibility that I may be in the presence of others who are silently grieving.