Sunday 27 June 2010

Miscarriage is not a dirty word

Last week, I wrote up a story about my first pregnancy which I lost. When it happened the only thing I'd heard about miscarriages were whispers about friends of friends. No-one I knew (or as far as I was aware) had had a miscarriage. I knew about them, but I thought they happened to an unfortunate few.

So, when it happened to me I was devastated, terrified and convinced something was wrong with me. Skip and I wondered to each other if we'd ever have a baby. We'd pretty much told everyone that we were expecting, so everyone knew about the miscarriage and the way people reacted varied greatly, people were sad for us, of course, but there were those who ignored it and those who let us grieve. I discovered a lot about people at that time.

I was honest with everyone I came across about what had happened, which made some people uncomfortable and then there were the others who said: "Oh I/my wife/girlfriend, had a miscarriage too".

I was shocked and surprised. It was like there was this big dirty secret people couldn't or wouldn't share. Like it was something to be embarrassed about or something that wasn't appropriate to discuss. I felt outraged. I had lost a baby and I wasn't supposed to mention it in fear of upsetting people? All these people had had miscarriages and they too kept shush about it. Why? It seemed unfathomable to me to experience something that affects you so greatly and then deny it's happened.

Since then, unfortunately a large number of my friends have had miscarriages. I hope that my talking openly about mine helped them feel like they weren't alone, weren't a freak and it was possible to go on and have a healthy family. I wish that it was something that could be discussed more openly, instead of with hushed whispers.

When I fell pregnant again, we still told close family and friends before the 'magical 12th week'. I felt, that if it happened again, I'd want the support of friends and family. I know that not everyone is the same.

When I wrote my about my miscarriage here on my blog, I felt a brief flutter of worry about if I should post it in conjunction with Kidspot. Was I selling out a personal story? Then I realised the whole point of the Kidspot Baby Club is for woman to openly share their experiences, which I think is so, so important and why I agreed to support them in the first place. When I had my miscarriage it really helped to go online and read of others experiences on similar websites and know I wasn't alone, that it is a too common occurrence.  When I read the comments from those who came and told me about their miscarriages, I knew I'd made the right decision.

As the old cliche goes, knowledge is power and I think women should share their knowledge, their experiences – good and bad. I also know that a lot of women who have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth want their lost babies to be acknowledged and not thought of as a dirty secret.


  1. The group of women that I met up with regularly for coffee after Amy was born, we talked about miscarriage and other things, one of our friends miscarried twice before succesfully having a sibling for her daughter. And I always knew my mother had had 2 miscarriages between me and my brother - that said, all the other women I've come in contact with, none of them even thought about miscarriage. It wasn't spoken of and I was shocked to see women at 6 weeks pregnant, announcing to all and sundry AND buying baby things. I always worried that something would go wrong and then they'd have all this baby gear. It just seemed odd. Like you said, I've no doubt that lots of miscarriages happen, but in that group of women, it was a dirty secret and not spoken about.

  2. I don't understand why it is such a dirty secret?

    A girlfriend of mine lost her son at 14 weeks, though she had to deliver him it was still considered a miscarriage. She does alot of work with TLC (Teddy Love Club) to help other Mums with their loss, and I think it does wonders to help open people's eyes on this subject.

    I hope that you speaking out will too help more women realise that they don't need to suffer in silence ...

    Love to you x

  3. I think most people just don't know what to say. To myself I think "oh that's terrible I hope your ok" but it just doesn't sound right.
    And does this person want me asking 'if they're ok'? because I know I wouldn't be ok but I just don't know how to talk about it without making the person upset.

    I think it's a feeling of helplessness too, knowing that nothing I could say would make them feel any better, and knowing I couldn't possibly understand what they would be going through..

  4. As a person who has never been through the trauma of miscarriage, I find it hard to gather the words to comfort those who have.
    I find it sad that people feel they have to keep their feelings and personal experiences bottled up, it must be awful to feel that way.
    The feeling of helplessness as also a feeling which is hard to deal with, not knowing quite what to say is hard too. But it has nothing on coping with the loss of a baby/child.
    I guess all you can offer is a shoulder to cry on, an understanding ear. Thats would be my first instinct.
    Being warm and sympathetic, and simply saying "Im here" is what I would do.
    Thank you for sharing your story Corinne, I have no doubt that it would be difficult to speak of without bringing back all those feelings of loss, but you're obviously a very strong individual and that is deeply admired on my behalf.

  5. Thanks so much to everyone for commenting.

    I really hope that I haven't come across as attacking people who haven't had miscarriages as that isn't my intention. I just wish that as a topic it was more openly discussed, so that people who haven't had a miscarriage feel more knowledgeable and able to support, and those who do suffer one feel less isolated and more able to speak up about what they're feeling/experiencing.

    I just wish that it wasn't a taboo topic, as I sometimes feel that it is.

    This is just me, though. I'm not a guru on the subject and I'm sure there are plenty of others who feel differently.

  6. My parent's first child was stillborn, and I didn't realise the huge impact it had on them until they supported me through an amnio (and all the associated implications) early in my first pregnancy.

    I don't necessarily think that miscarriage is taboo, but I do think that it is tragic and horrible. People do their best to avoid dealing with those types of things.

    Your message is a valuable one though; if you do feel able to share, you may help to ease someone else's burden.

  7. This is not a comment about miscarriage specifically, but I completely understand the confusion at why some women or mothers feel the need to hide certain aspects of pregnancy or loss or motherhood. For me, it was the first 6 weeks after delivery. I had major baby blues - not postpartum depression, but hormonal baby blues. I would cry for no reason throughout the day & I sometimes felt sort of tired & apathetic about the idea of being a new mom. For me, it was completely traumatizing because I had wanted a baby for so long & I expected it to just be all happy & giddy those first few weeks. When it wasn't, I thought something was wrong with me. Then as I finally broke down & told a couple of people, everyone said, "Oh that happened to me too!" And I was thinking, "WHY DID YOU NEVER TELL ME THAT COULD HAPPEN??" Because I would've felt so much better just knowing that it was normal for a lot of women & that it passed.

    I just think sometimes we have a tendency to cover & hide those things we are insecure about. Maybe it's a miscarriage where you just have more questions than answers or baby blues where you don't feel like you expect a new mother to feel or any other of the ups & downs of life in general or of motherhood in particular. It's just easier to put up a shell rather than be vulnerable & admit that you really went through something hard.

    I admire your strength in posting that & I'm sure many women are identifying with your experience.

  8. Hi Corinne,

    I had a traumatic miscarriage at 16 weeks that started in Target at my local shopping centre. I grabbed my toddler and somehow made it to my car, drove home and called my husband. It was awful. I remember having to check if he was still alive. The people at the hospital treated me like a total idiot and it took me a long time to get over the whole experience.

    I'd had 3 kids and never even thought about miscarriage. I'm glad more women are speaking up about it. Knowledge is power.


Thank you so much for your comments! I'm always thrilled to hear from you.

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