That’s how many years it took to get pregnant again.
That’s how many days I got be pregnant again before I miscarried.
That’s how many months have passed since my miscarriage.
That’s how many books I’ve read to keep my mind occupied during the empty spaces when my mind wanders to what could have been.
That’s how many failed infertility treatments I had over the summer. There would have been more except money ran out and emotions ran too high.
That’s how many tears I’ve shed thinking about my child I’ll never get to meet.
That’s how many people I’ve talked to who’ve been through something similar (including my friend Jeff). Not surprising, though, because roughly 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage.
That’s how often I blame myself for what happen, even though in my head I know it’s not my fault. It typically difficult to pinpoint the cause for one and I know blaming myself doesn’t change or help anything but yet I do it.
The rest of my life.
That’s how long I’ll continue to mourn. I know over time, like any loss, it’ll get better but it’ll still be there.
That’s how many children I have and will have. And I feel lucky and blessed that I got the one I did. For so many reasons.
I know my story isn’t unique. There are hundreds of thousands of women like me. And the fact that we’re still so afraid to talk about miscarriage frustrates me. Because it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that happens. Instead of keeping it a dirty little secret, we need to be supporting each other, comforting each other, and being there to help one another through our grief.
How to help is difficult. It’s hard to know what to say to someone. There are lots of things you shouldn’t say like “Everything happens for a reason” or “At least you know you can get pregnant!” or “You can always adopt”. Why these are wrong and completely unhelpful is a post unto itself. And if you say them to someone experiencing a miscarriage, know that we know you mean well. There’s no malicious intent. But those statements still hurt. What would be more helpful is “I’m so sorry” or “I’m here if you need to talk” or “Is there anything I can do?” or simply just bring us tissues and let us cry or talk about it, even if it might be uncomfortable to hear.
That’s what we need.
What else do we need?
We need people to stop asking “when are you having kids” or “why only the one” and my personal favorite, “you’re so lucky you only have one” (yes, I’ve had that said to me. Yes, I had to refrain from launching into a tirade). A) it’s none of your fucking business and B) if you need to make it your business, quit assuming it’s by choice. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But you don’t need to concern yourself with anyone else’s reproductive issues or choices. Even if you’re related.
We need to destigmatize miscarriage and bring into discussion so we can get those dealing with it the help and support they need. Just like with mental health, keeping it secret because of shame or discomfort doesn’t make it go away. And I’m grateful to celebrities like Gabrielle Union and Mark Zuckerberg for openly discussing their fertility and miscarriage issues. For whatever reason, in this country, it takes celebrities to discuss issues to make the rest of us feel like it’s okay to talk about. But with this, if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.
We also need more stories like my friend Justine’s, who shares what it’s like to know you’ll never have a child and to learn to accept it. We’re saturated with stories of people who tried and tried and then, miraculously, they had a baby. And then another. And then another. We’re bombarded with the message that if you never give up hope, a baby is in your future. But that’s not always the case and women need to know that you can still live a full and happy life without children (Note: I’m only referencing the women who want to have kids and can’t. Those who choose to remain childfree have a different set of issues to contend with).
We need people to know it’s okay to grieve openly. To talk about their losses. To know that “miscarriage” is not a dirty word.
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, please know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to grieve in isolation. I’m here for you, even if we’ve never met.
And know that your baby, your pregnancy, no matter how brief, mattered. Just like mine did.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you can, please light a candle at 7PM in your time zone (I think that’s how it works. I’m struggling with understanding) to create a wave of light for all the babies gone too soon.