Why I didn't tell anyone about my miscarriages for so long and how you can help those who have had one feel love and support.

A few months ago, I wrote about my experience with miscarriage.  It was a hard post to write, as I felt like I was reliving each one of my three miscarriages all over again.  I cried.  I was mad.  I doubted.  I felt hope.  And then, healing begin to happen.  I received text messages, phone calls, messages on Facebook, comments on my post and notes from both friends and people I’ve never actually met in real life.  It was truly amazing how sharing something so personal and vulnerable made me feel so much love.  Since my most recent miscarriage in January of this year, I’ve talked to a lot of women about it.  Some expressed their sympathy but couldn’t relate having never gone through it.  Others opened up to me about their own experience.  We’ve hugged, cried and bonded over our losses.  And almost everyone I talked to about it asked me the same question: Why didn’t you say something?

Ever since writing that post, this one question has been echoing in my mind.  Knowing there were other women who had experienced the same thing as me, why didn’t I reach out to them?  I was hurting, confused, frustrated and full of pain and sadness, as I’m sure they were.  So why didn’t I say something?

As I’ve thought about it (and I’ve thought a lot about it) and talked to others about it, I’ve had some insights come to my mind.  I feel fairly safe saying that I think many women who have experienced a miscarriage have felt these feelings and had these thoughts and each one or a combination of them is why they don’t say something: shame, disappointment, rationalization, pressure and confusion.

Shame
I can say that I definitely felt shame and embarrassment when I went through my miscarriages.  These are some of the thoughts that went through my mind:

  • I have two healthy kids and had no major problems getting pregnant or during pregnancy, so what in the world was the problem?  
  • A woman’s body is supposed to know how to do this, right?  
  • I don’t want people to think that there is something wrong with me.

If you’ve had a miscarriage, you know that this thinking is irrational, but in the moment, it is your reality.  You are trying to come up with some reason why things didn’t work out the way you hoped or wanted and as a result, you feel shame.  If you haven’t had a miscarriage, please don’t discount how women could be feeling this way.  We know it doesn’t make sense and we don’t want to feel this way, but we do and all we really need is a hug.

Disappointment
In my case, and in so many cases, a baby is what we had been hoping and praying for.  Getting that positive pregnancy test is a moment of wonder and awe and excitement.  When you get that positive test, you start to hope and plan for your unborn child’s future.  You wonder if it’s a boy or a girl and what they’ll look like.  Going to the doctor and not hearing a heartbeat or starting to bleed unexpectedly is one of the absolute worst feelings in the world.  Having those hopes and dreams crushed can cause a disappointment so deep that it’s hard to share with others, even if they know how it feels.  For me, I felt a little like if I could keep it inside and not say anything, that maybe it wouldn’t feel so real and heartbreaking.

Rationalization
My husband and I have two beautiful kids.  They bring us happiness and joy and make life worth living.  When I went through each of my miscarriages, I tried to rationalize my feelings by telling myself things like:

  • Well, at least I have two kids.
  • Other people have suffered worse than me.
  • I should be happy that I wasn’t farther along than I was.

I thought that by trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t be feeling the things I was feeling, that somehow that would make me feel better.  But I have to tell you something: when you are going through a miscarriage, you’re not thinking rationally.  You are trying to think of something, anything, to help you cope.  To try and work through the pain.  You might decide that saying something to someone will cause them to think poorly of you, so it’s better not to say anything at all and just try to work through it yourself.

Pressure
Choosing when to start a family or add to it is a hugely personal decision.  But for some reason, many people think it’s a question that is free game.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, friends, co-workers and random acquaintances think they should be able to ask this question and you shouldn’t feel intruded upon.  As though it’s a question that maybe you’ve never considered before (insert sarcasm here).  For me, I am the oldest child and grandchild.  I was the first to get married, the first to have a baby and the first to get pregnant with our second child.  I knew people were wondering when we were going to be adding to our family.  Even if they weren’t saying something, I knew they were thinking it.  Whether the pressure you feel is real or perceived, it definitely has an effect on if you feel safe saying something to people when you experience a miscarriage.

Confusion
I had my first miscarriage in November 2015, another in February 2016 and another in January 2017.  While I don’t claim to have all my feelings sorted out, I do know that it’s taken some time to try and work through everything.  I am someone who likes to have all, or as many of, the answers as possible when explaining or sharing something.  Because I had so much going on inside my mind, I didn’t feel like anything I said to anyone was going to make any sense.  I didn’t know how to process everything because I had no frame of reference.  So I kept it to myself and didn’t say anything.

What changed my mind?
Ultimately, I found that sharing my experience was like a breath of fresh air.  Keeping everything inside was hurting me and those around me.  I truly felt like I’d been holding my breath, trying to convince myself that I was fine, all the while I was drowning.  Until I said something to one person.  And then another.  And another.  And then I started typing the words into my computer.  Letting go of everything inside me and sharing the burden with others started the healing process.  Telling people about my miscarriages has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. One friend said to me, “We are part of a club of women we never wanted to be a part of.”  But thank goodness we can be there for each other.  To hope and pray for each other.  To hold and cry with each other.  To be a source of strength and hope to each other.

Why I didn't tell anyone about my miscarriages for so long and how you can help those who have had one feel love and support.

To you who have gone through a miscarriage, I’m so sorry.  I know how it feels.  I am here for you.  The pain will probably never go away completely but the ability to bear it will increase.  You are strong.  You are brave.  And if you don’t feel like there’s anyone you can talk to about it, please contact me, whether we know each other in person or not.  Everyone needs someone to talk to.  Hard things become so much easier to go through when you know there’s someone in your court, cheering you on or holding your hand when things don’t go as planned.

To you who haven’t experienced this, please know that I’m not bitter or upset at you.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt sometimes when I see you with your newborn baby or pregnant belly, or when you unknowingly make a comment about “being lucky”.  All I ask is that when you come across someone who’s had a miscarriage, that you don’t try to brush over it with trite phrases or meaningless words.  We know you’re trying to help, but most often, all we really need is for you to say “This sucks and I’m here for you.”  Often, hearing “I’m sorry” is enough.

To everyone reading this, I hope–really, really, hope–that we can start today in our efforts to stop the stigma surrounding miscarriage.  I don’t understand why, but it’s become a taboo.  No one should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed because of a miscarriage.  It’s not an easy or comfortable subject to talk about.  I get it.  But I think recognizing that is a good first step.  Awareness and resources for how to talk about it is the next. 

I know this was a long post, so thank you for sticking with me to the end.  Obviously, I feel very strongly about this topic and I hope that something I said helped you see things in a different light, no matter which side you find yourself on.  Because as cheesy as it sounds, we’re all in this together.  We women have a voice and we can use it to uplift and strengthen each other throughout all facets of life.

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Comments

  1. Ahhh I so get this! My husband and I do not have any children and we've lost two to miscarriage. It's unbelievably painful and challenging. I've never written about either of them in the moment but I tend to open up more as time passes and I feel able to talk about it. It's hard though and I appreciate you sharing this.

  2. I am so sorry you have been through this, but I know your words are helping others even as writing them helps you heal, too. Thank you for sharing your story so that others can find comfort or have insight into how to help hurting friends!

  3. I am so incredibly sorry you have had to go through this Shani, but appreciate you opening up so that others may find comfort in knowing they're not alone. Prayers for you and your family, and let me know if I can ever do anything!

  4. First, I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts. I know you are a blessing to many who have walked through that. I had a miscarriage about five years ago, and it was very hard to talk about. I've opened up a little more over the years to friends, but it's still difficult. I do appreciate you sharing because it's comforting to know that others can relate to all those feelings and emotions we've gone through.

  5. My heart goes out to you for having loved through this, but also for going through the process of sharing. That's so hard and you're amazingly strong! You're right- it's a club we don't want to be part of, but then we are. Hugs to you!

  6. I think a lot of women are able to write or talk about miscarriage better after some time has passed…for me…I was able to talk about it, to write about it when I lost my baby last October…but with time it's gotten harder. I guess it's the feeling of "Oh, won't people think I should be okay by now, that I shouldn't still be talking about what happened all those months ago?" The pain isn't as desperate as it was at first, but it certainly isn't gone, and I don't know if it'll ever be gone.

  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for opening up and sharing. There's such a stigma around miscarriages but it definitely happens a lot more than people think.

  8. I too am sorry for your losses. I am glad that you have found healing in sharing, and by doing so you help to heal others. Much love from one momma to another. <3

  9. Shani, thank you so much for opening up and sharing something so personal. Tears welled up when I started reading this, as it really hits home with me. You're right, the pain doesn't go away, but it's good to know that there are others who understand and who are there for you as well. I'm sure that this post is going to be a comfort to others as well. πŸ™‚

  10. I first read this post yesterday but was on my mobile and didn't have a chance to comment yet. I so agree about the disappointment thing. It's like I was going through so much heartbreak and I just wanted to shut myself off from everyone else. And I didn't want the comments from everyone, you know? I really do think that like you said, just saying "I'm sorry" is probably the best thing you can say.

  11. I had my first miscarriage before my first son in Sept 2015…I kept quiet about it too. I think I didn't want to have the awkward exchanges with anyone about it. Through it I learned people don't really know what to say…that being said I've decided like you have to start talking about it because then maybe it won't be as awkard for people on the other side!!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you have gone through this. I agree that this stigma around miscarriage is unnecessary. With opening up the discussion about the experience I think will help turn the matter into something that is not taboo.

  13. You are SOOOO strong for talking about this! I am so, so sorry you are going through this & im praying for you!

  14. It's so important to share our experiences. I lost three sweet babies to miscarriage and it was other women who went through the same thing and made it through who helped me heal and navigate my grief!

  15. I am so sorry for all the pain & hurt you've been through. I can only imagine how hard that was for you to share. You are so strong Shani don't forget that. Even though I have never been there I have a great set of ears so please if you need them :). Hugs & ALL the love to you

    Lauren

  16. Thank you so much for opening up about something so personal, Shani. I am sure it must not have been easy, but I am glad it's helping.
    Hopefully you'll never have to go through this again, but if you ever do, we're all here with opens arms and ears.
    Hugs, Vanessa

  17. Thank your for being so open and honest. I've not had a miscarriage, but through watching friends go through a miscarriage, I've wandered how I would react. I tend to be introverted and fairly private when it comes to hurt and emotion, it's hard for me to let my guard down. I think I would experience many of the same emotions you experienced, and I think I'd be hesitant to talk. It's encouraging to hear your thoughts.

  18. I'm so sorry for your losses Ashley. πŸ™ It is a huge challenge. I think everyone processes pain differently and at different rates. For one person, they can talk about it sooner and for others, it's later. I hope in reading this you felt a little less alone. πŸ™‚

  19. Thank you Kaycee. And I'm so sorry for your loss as well. It is hard to talk about and because of that, I think so often that people just don't have the words for it, both those who have experienced it and those who are trying to offer comfort.

  20. It really is because by talking about it, we are making ourselves vulnerable and in many cases we are reliving the pain and memories. But I hope that by talking about it more openly, it won't be such a taboo.

  21. I'm so sorry Rachel. I remember when you commented on my first miscarriage post about your experience. I feel a little strange talking about it sometimes too because I don't want others to think that I've moved past it or that it no longer bothers me. That pain will always be there, but with time it becomes easier to bear.

  22. Thank you Rachel. It absolutely does! I read that 1 in 8 women have problems with infertility and that 1 in 4 women will experience a pregnancy loss. That is a huge number! I hope that opening up about it will encourage others to open up too.

  23. I'm so sorry Kristin. It's never easy to talk about loss, but it does help to know others have gone through it and know how you feel.

  24. I'm so sorry Justine. πŸ™ Yes, that's absolutely how I felt! Like, maybe if I ignore it and pretend it isn't there, it won't hurt as much. So many people don't know how to respond that it kind of makes it worse to say something and risk it being awkward and uncomfortable when you are already feeling vulnerable.

  25. I think that everyone just processes pain differently, you know? For some, it might pass more quickly and others take a long time to open up. But yes, I think that talking about it does help in the long run, especially to help increase understanding and awareness.

  26. Thank you Kristen. It's a hard topic and having gone through multiple miscarriages, it doesn't get easier. It's such a painful and personal experience that it makes you question so much about yourself and so it's just never discussed. Hopefully time will change that.

  27. I'm so sorry for your losses Laura. It does make it so much more bearable when others who have gone through the same experiences are there to help you through it.

  28. Thank you for taking the time to read through and comment Angela. I hope that this post reaches others and they will find strength and comfort in knowing they are not alone.

  29. Thank you Lauren! I know we've never met, but I feel like I know you through our blogging group and I really appreciate that.

  30. Thank you for your kindness Lora. I am more of an introvert as well, especially when it comes to sharing personal things. I didn't want to talk about it the first two time it happened, but the third time, something changed and I felt like if I didn't open up about it, that it would consume me. So I poured it all out onto my computer and shared it with the world, hoping that if it only reached one person who needed to hear they weren't alone, then it would be worth it.

  31. Shani, thank you for sharing your story. While I've not had a miscarriage, my husband and I are struggling with infertility and you're right – the questions become tough to handle. I laugh it off when I get asked when we're starting a family, but it doesn't necessarily make it easier. Thoughts and prayers for you, your husband, children and angel babies.

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