Miscarriage: Can We Please Get Rid of The Taboo?

This is the most delicate blog post I’ve ever written.  You see, last night during a routine phone conversation, an enormous bombshell was dropped.  A mind-blowing, perception-changing ball of knowledge that was upsetting, maddening but mostly just sad.

One year ago, almost exactly, I was grappling mostly with the medical repercussions of my miscarriage.  I had a lot of hemorrhaging, and I had to go to the ER twice.  I was ordered on bed rest for a few days, and needed help watching the kids while I recovered.  Some nearest and dearest to me helped out, pitched in.  Those who were assisting me seemed utterly clueless about what I was going through physically and emotionally.  The usual platitudes that we’ve all heard were uttered: “For the best”, “Better off”, etc, etc.

I was reeling from what in the world had just happened, so I got on the old laptop and did some internet searches, mostly looking for medical explanations.  But it turned out that I had experienced a remarkably similar pregnancy to Julie, and I found and read about her experience (the Google is Strong with Julie, and that is a wonderful thing).  Her humor, honest depiction and searing pain shone through that post, and made me stop feeling like a freak because I wasn’t as accepting of the situation as all those around me wanted.  It was a remarkable breakthrough for me.  Soon after, I found Stirrup Queens.

A few days later, I started my very own blog, and three posts after that, Mel included me in her Friday round-up, and I discovered the whole, wide, wonderful world of y’all.  The End.

Except, not.  I discovered yesterday that at least one of the “clueless” people around me at the time of my miscarriage had suffered multiple miscarriages of her own.  She’s most likely not alone, among those closest to me.  Yet, they chose to remain silent about their own experiences while I was bleeding from my body and my heart.

WHY?  Is it a generational thing?  Do they themselves feel like they should not have felt pain after their own losses?  Are miscarriages so demoralizing that you don’t even want to admit that they happened to you?

I’d really like to change this.  I understand that you don’t want to talk about your miscarriages during casual dinner conversations, or even most of the time, but when those around you are suffering from one, what is the harm in speaking about your own experience?  Am I missing something?

The statistics say that 1 in almost 3 people suffer from a miscarriage at one point in their life.  That’s a LOT of people.  It would be helpful if we all could support each other when the shoe falls.  Feeling less alone helps the healing process immensely.

Can you take the pledge to help others (in real life and in bloggy life) to know that they are not alone?  That miscarriages are emotional and physical hell? That the platitudes make us feel like this?

I will.  And I will carry this pledge with me as I age.  May the next generation not have to suffer in silence.



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20 responses to “Miscarriage: Can We Please Get Rid of The Taboo?

  1. I’ll take the pledge with you. I am keeping quiet about my losses right now, while I’m in the thick of it, but I am always willing to be open with others who might share there struggles with me, and I hope to go a bit more public with my own struggles as time goes on.

    I’m sorry that your “clueless” support person didn’t share her story with you at the time, and didn’t know better how to help, even though she had been through it herself.

  2. I’m there. Just trying to figure out ways to get it out there besides this community that we have. As wonderful as it is, we need to spread it wider so people don’t feel like they have to remain silent.

    I’m sorry you felt so alone. How lucky you found this community 3 days later, that must have been wonderful. It took me until well after my second miscarriage to find it. And I will never look back!

  3. I am taking this pledge, too. It is so hard to talk about pregnancy loss … I don’t know why. But it’s so necessary … because there are so many of us, feeling alone in this experience. But how do we start to talk about it, except in the face of another loss that people might not be willing to share in the first place?

    • Good point. I was actually thinking that when people tell us they had a miscarriage, we should share our experience with them so they don’t feel alone. But it would be great to able to be able to take the stigma away altogether…that may be too utopian an idea…

  4. I’m taking the pledge!

    The day after I learned of my missed miscarriage, I was sitting on the couch with my dear friend Heidi. Heidi has never had a miscarriage, but is wise in the ways of grief after dealing with the loss of her husband when she was 31. Knowing how much it helped her to talk to others who had experienced the same thing, she called up a friend who’d had a miscarriage the year earlier, and asked her to talk to me.

    Having someone say, “I know it’s awful. I have been there. You will get through this,” was the most amazing thing. It didn’t make the hurt less, but it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t alone. Everyone who has a miscarriage deserves to have someone who has been there say those words to them. More than once.

    • I’m so glad you had such a helpful friend around, in your time of need, though that’s awful she lost her husband so young. I could not agree more that it DOES feel better when you know you’re not alone.

  5. chhandita

    I promised myself long ago that I will NOT stay quite about this whole IF journey (miscarriage included). I too want to take this whole stigma away from this process. I so want to organize a support group. (We have nothing of that sort here in India. I found you all when I needed it, but what about the others who Do not know about this wonderful online community? I know I am going off the tangent, but I have been thinking this for sometime now. 🙂

    • I’m so glad to have found you too! I agree, there seems to be a huge void in terms of support groups for those who have gone through miscarriages anywhere in the world, except Japan, which seems to have a cultural and religious process in place. There SHOULD be, though. Hm. Let me think about that…

    • Esperanza

      I’ve thought about that too. The other day a mom on a list serve I frequent was devastated by her third miscarriage. I told her to PM (Personal message) me and I’d direct her to the blogs of other RPL mamas that I know. She never did though, and she posted as anonymous so I couldn’t track her down. I felt so sad for her. This community is so amazing, the three months I dealt with my ectopic alone, before finding it, were horrible. All I had then was my Fertility Friend TTC after loss board, which was helpful but not the same. I wish there was an easy way to share this community with those who need it.

  6. So wonderful! I love this post. I’ve been speaking about it much more in my life. When people ask when we’re having kids, I explain. It makes people uncomfortable, but I hope it also makes them think and realize this baby thing is so damn easy.

  7. They “why” of silence has to be addressed since no one really needs permission to tell the truth of their lives. As someone with no experience with miscarriage, I don’t understand why one wouldn’t talk about it. How can you not? I understand perhaps not bringing it up with the dry cleaners et al, but when something like this happens to you and the conversations with people in your life come to the point where you think about it, why not tell the story? What keeps women from doing this?

  8. Esperanza

    YES PLEASE! I talk about miscarriage and how it totally devastated me ALL THE TIME. When it happened I told everyone. I wrote about it on Facebook. It was a very, very, very difficult time for me and I wanted people to know that. I didn’t think I should have to hide the fact that it happened. I had been trying for a while and most people knew that too (I wasn’t drinking while I was TTC and I didn’t want to lie about why that was, so I just told people) which I think helped them to understand why I was so upset. I also told people what I did and didn’t want to hear from them. I told them specific things not to say and what I did want them to say (I’m sorry. This must be very difficult for you). In that way I got the support I needed and hopefully educated my friends a little on how hard it is when people go through it. I do understand that people don’t want to talk about miscarriage to the general public, as there can be insensitivity and misunderstanding, but I do feel that as miscarriage survivors we owe it to others in similar situations to talk about it with them, if they bring it up. I’ve talked about my loss very openly, some feel too openly, and I’ve never regretted it. It fundamentally changed me and it deserves to be recognized as such.

  9. Kate Bentley

    I am a hand-in-the-air fellow RPL who has never kept my miscarriages secret – the infertility treatment I did – because I learnt that when you are down, it is very hard to accept a lack of understanding from those you really want to rely on. So you keep it to yourself to stop them falling into the trap of disappointing you. The obvious next step is to say, but why not give them the chance to disappoint you and then tell them if they do?…because all of this is hard enough already. And emotional, and hormonal and everything in between, that sometimes you have to take the path of least resistance, even if it means losing out on some support – I think there are times when you can’t imagine anyone else feeling like you do.

    I am out the otherside now and looking to find ways of supporting those still suffering – I am more than happy to take the pledge – but I thought it might be good to write reasons for the sometimes deafening silence

    love to all xxxxxx

  10. My hubby and I decided we were sick of the taboo and now talk openly about our two miscarriages to anyone who will listen – just so people know they’re not alone, and so they won’t go through the confusion and loneliness we suffered through before I found this community.
    A couple of weeks back – on my first un- due date, I went to get a tattoo and he posted an open note on his facebook page sharing our story and urging other couples to do the same. It was amazing.

  11. Thank you for this. When we do shows on miscarriages, I’m always amazed at how little even the medical profession knows about recurrent pregnancy loss. Thank you for sharing.

    Dawn Davenport
    Host of radio show “Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility”

  12. I have two friends who aren’t speaking to each other at the moment. Both of them have recently suffered miscarriages, and neither of them knows about the other’s loss. Of course, I can’t blab because it isn’t my secret to tell, and I hurt thinking about how much understanding and support they would find with each other, if only miscarriages weren’t such deep, dark secrets…

  13. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree. I posted about my miscarriages on Facebook for last year’s Nat’l Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, and I plan to do so every year because I felt so alone when I didn’t know anyone else “in real life” who’d had a miscarriage. -ICLW #35

  14. Lut C.

    I’ve been thinking about this, mostly why there is so much silence.

    It must be cultural. I did a sociology course in college way back when, which explained that in Western culture all bodily functions must be hidden as much as possible. It’s why we spend so much money on deoderant and scold our children for burping, etc. etc.

    Death is also well hidden in all its forms. The custom of having a wake at home has disappeared (not everywhere, I know).
    Miscarriage is death, so it is something to keep hidden as well.

    When I had my miscarriage, I didn’t want to say so to all and sundry.
    (Not at work especially, but that was for other reasons).
    I think there will be circumstances when I’m willing to share, others when I’m not.

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