When you’re in your third trimester, everyone knows you’re pregnant and talks to you about it.
When you have a newborn, you go to the grocery store and other folks peek into the car seat to see your teeny tiny sleeping bundle of joy.
When you lose a pregnancy, no one around you can tell what’s going in your life by looking at you.
You have to say the words, those painful words, if you want to share your news with others.
Since today is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I wanted to explain why in the world I’ve shared about my miscarriages with strangers (people on the internet, not, uh, strangers at the grocery store).
When you’re open about something that’s not well understood by those who haven’t gone through it, you risk hearing unhelpful things, or worse, hurtful things. In an effort to comfort you, you’re told that you’re stressing too much, that at least you can get pregnant, that you’re young, that it’s common, that maybe you should change your diet, that maybe…maybe…maybe.
But despite opening myself up to that, so much more good has come out of it.
Why I’m open about miscarriages…
So others know they’re not alone
I get emails like these:
I had a miscarriage at the beginning of this month and stumbled upon your twitter account by accident last week. Your strength and courage each day has given me the guts to get up and get back to my life in the hopes of trying again. :) I couldn’t go another day without telling you that. I hope so much that everything works out for you. Thanks for your courage and for sharing your story for everyone to read. It’s not an easy story to tell.
And so many comments, DMs, and messages thanking me for being open. Telling me that I was helping by sharing.
I take great comfort in knowing I’m not alone. In hearing the stories of others. In knowing that I’m not a freak for being 28 years old with two consecutive miscarriages and having hope that someday I’ll welcome a second child.
So others know how loss feels and how to empathize
We haven’t struggled with infertility, but reading countless blogs of women who are open about their infertility and following others on Twitter who are honest and blunt has helped me be a better friend. It has helped me understand what helps and what doesn’t, how it feels, and what they’re going through. Similarly, I hope my openness about pregnancy loss gives others a sense of what it’s like. No, you can’t fully understand how much something hurts until it happens to you, but you can get a good idea.
So if reading about my miscarriages has helped even one person to feel more able to be there for a friend experiencing loss, it was worth being vulnerable.
Look, I get it, it’s scary stuff. It can be weird and hard to say, “I am so sorry you’re going through this” to a friend. But not saying anything hurts so much more.
So others know they can talk to me if they ever go through this
Because I’ve shared about my own pregnancy loss, I hope my friends and family who go through losses know they can come to me for support and understanding in the future. There is a club of women who have experienced the disappointment, heart ache, and loss and they have gotten me through this. It’s a crappy club to belong to, but it’s supportive and uplifting. I hope I can be the same for others. (Though I hope more that no one I love experience this.)
Because it helps.
When someone says, “You’re so brave to share!” I think, “I don’t know how to go through something like this and not share.”
I process through writing, I take comfort in community. It only makes sense that I process and reach out for support through sharing.
It also helps when others articulate how I’m feeling. Reading someone’s story of loss and the feelings that accompanied it was cathartic in those early weeks. Again it was the, “I’m not alone” relief combined with the “Yes. Exactly. You get it.” feelings.
Even today, I watched this and cried. It can be unpredictable when the Feelings hit, but it helps when others are open.
So I try to be open.
I’m not sure why we’re not more open as a society about pregnancy loss.
I’m afraid of making you uncomfortable with my vulnerability, I suppose.