pregnancy

When it comes to miscarriage, oversharing should be welcome.

“The truth is, talking about miscarriage makes us uncomfortable. But forcing women to suffer through the pain of pregnancy loss in private doesn’t help anyone.”

Sam and Nia live their lives in public.

Every day, the photogenic American Christian couple share a slice of their family life on their video blog. You might be delighted by their upbeat little messages to the world, or they might make you queasily despair of the exhibitionist direction of the human race.

Recently, they shared the news of their miscarriage. And whatever you think of the way that they announced their pregnancy to the world, it’s difficult to watch that video with anything other than empathy for a couple finding their way through the first stages of loss.

You can watch the video below. Post continues after video.

Or, at least, I thought it was. Criticism for the young couple talking about miscarriage have come thick and fast. Some say it’s their “own fault” that they are making this announcement, because they told people about their pregnancy “too soon”.

Others are calling out the fact that Nia refers to the fetus they lost at X weeks as a “she”, when it’s highly improbable that they had any real idea of the sex.

And some are suggesting the whole thing has been staged to boost the following of their vlog.

talking about miscarriage
Sam and Nia as pictured in their video announcing the miscarriage. Image via YouTube.

The truth is, talk of miscarriage makes people uncomfortable.

Miscarriage is meant to be a “private” business, wrapped in so much whispered secrecy that if and when it happens to you, as it does to one in four of us, it side-swipes us with shock.

And if happens to you in the early stages of a pregnancy, as it has to Nia and Sam, you then have to deal with a gross mismatch of the scale of your grief with the level of sadness and compassion the outside world has decided you’re allowed to feel.

“Really, it’s just like a heavy period”.

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“In the old days, you wouldn’t have even known you were pregnant.”

“At least it happened early, before you could get too attached.”

None of these words are helpful when it is you who is bleeding through the experience. You hear them (you might have said them yourself, once), but they are a world away from how you feel.

Because how you feel, most likely, is devastated.

talking about miscarriage
British singer Lily Allen has suffered from two miscarriages and in 2010, her son was stillborn. Image via Getty.

It’s complicated. Because for most women, their relationship with their fertility is complicated. It’s become a well-worn cliche that we spend a significant chunk of our adult lives trying to achieve non-pregnancy. And then we spend an intense period trying to be pregnant above all things. Many of us struggle and stumble between these two states, and things that seem unimaginable in the first are devastating in the second.

I had no idea that a miscarriage would derail me in the way that it did. I was beyond surprised that the words “I’m sorry, but we can’t find the heartbeat,” threw me so far off kilter I could barely stand to leave the room. I had so little idea of how that would feel that I had gone off to the appointment, quietly suspecting the worst, on my own.

I learned some lessons from that experience. One of them being that when you are crying uncontrollably in the street at 3 in the afternoon, schoolgirls will look at you strangely and cross the street to avoid you, but older women will come and put a firm hand on your arm and offer help.

It is not an unusual story, but it’s one we’re not used to hearing.

And that matters, because women in my shoes that day – the ones who are leaving ultrasound clinics without having to pay the bill – will then go home to grieve in private.

talking about miscarriage
After the birth of their daughter Blue Ivy, Beyonce and Jay Z revealed they had previously had a miscarriage. Image via Getty.
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They won’t take days of work. They won’t tell their boss, or their colleagues. They won’t tell their Facebook friends. They will struggle to talk to their partners about it, because they will feel a little embarrassed that they are being dislodged by waves of sadness for something that felt – to their other halves – more like an idea that a reality.

They are isolated by our refusal to acknowledge that not every pregnancy story has the same ending – the Facebook post with the pink squally bundle in a stripey blanket.

For those women who have been there, pregnancy will never be the same.

No matter how cautious you are – and women who have had miscarriages will be very cautious about embracing the joy of an early pregnancy, publicly or privately – when those lines appear on the pregnancy test, you change. It’s impossible not to. Whatever happens, the future is a different place now. And it can be a terrifying one.

Every woman who has had a miscarriage and becomes pregnant again knows that every trip to the bathroom feels like a mini-trauma. Every morning that you do not wake feeling like you want to vomit makes you anxious. Any quietening of movement will see you hysterical. You may utter the words, “just wake me up at nine months”.

These are the tiny dramas that make up women’s lives. They are what make us resilient. They are what give us perspective.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced his wife’s pregnancy and told followers they have had three miscarriages along the way. Image via Facebook.

So if we do want to share that loss, if we do want to talk about it, make a video blog about it, or post about it on Facebook (as Mark Zuckerberg did) it should be celebrated as what it is – a gift to every other woman, or every other couple, who is struggling through pregnancy loss right now.

Because it’s the thing we’re not allowed to talk about, when when we see it in each other we nod, and we say, aloud or silently, “I was there. I felt like that. And I survived it.”

And that is worth sharing.

You can follow Holly on Facebook, here

Have you had a miscarriage? Do you have any advice to share?

For more posts like this.. 

Just last week we watched as her husband told her she was pregnant. But now, some devasting news.

Actress Jaime King on the struggles and agony of five miscarriages.

Jessica Rudd opens up about being pregnant after suffering from a miscarriage.

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