Why Women Should be Entitled to Tell Their Stories of Pregnancy and Child Loss

Content warning: miscarriage

I learned today via BBC News that Meghan Markle suffered a miscarriage earlier this year. She is described as having felt “an almost unbearable grief”, as did many thousands of others at that time. 

UK statistics indicate that an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Around 11 in 1,000 pregnancies are ectopic. About 1 in 100 women in the UK experience recurrent miscarriages (3 or more in a row).

Having never been one to be interested at all in the private lives of high profile figures, I would ordinarily skip past such an article. However, having experienced two pregnancy losses myself, I found myself reading on. What she stated about holding her firstborn child whilst she was losing her second hit a nerve. Is it kind of harder when you already have one (or two in my case) beautiful creations, as you have greater insight into the ‘what could have been?’. Who am I to say.

She has described witnessing “my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine”. So true. Our partners want to ‘fix it’ and make it all alright. They can’t, nobody can, and that’s the helpless position they are in. However much a woman may share their feelings of loss with them (or not), there is a limit to the possible empathy as it was simply not their body. 

Following my own experience of an ectopic pregnancy; a totally unexpected pregnancy followed by emergency surgery, all within the space of 12 hours (there you go –  I have shared and it feels good in a way) I found myself seeking out connections with others who had been through the same thing as me. My research led me to an online forum via The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, an ambassador being the actress Amanda Redman MBE. Every time I saw her on my screen, which felt like quite a lot at the time (or was that just me?), I felt an infinity with her, a sense of knowing. Despite the support of our partners, loved ones and friends, there can be a tendency to not naturally open up to them and instead seek out support from anonymous others online who truly get it. 

Common feelings associated with pregnancy loss include guilt, for what you may have done wrong, for the baby that never made it, for the family members you let down for not giving them a child, sibling, grandchild. Shame and embarrassment that your body couldn’t do what it was meant to. These are not easy feelings.

Chrissy Teigen, model, candidly shared her experience of pregnancy loss on social media including photographs of her on a hospital bed following the delivery of her son, who was delivered half way through her pregnancy. This picture showed the raw, real emotions of her loss and the undignified situations that can be found within a hospital room. She has been criticised for this public display that also included pictures of her cradling her little bundle.

She has since published a personal essay on her experience and with regard the backlash about the photographs stated “I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them.”

I’m certainly no model, celebrity, or anyone with a following, but writing this has helped me in some small way and who knows, someone else may have been able to identify with some of these words. Letting others speak and share their loss publicly in whatever way they can express, whoever they are, can only be a good thing, right? 

If you don’t want to hear about it then just turn the page or switch off, but spare just a little thought for the relief it may have brought even just one person – that can only be another good thing right?

Some useful organisations:

https://www.sands.org.uk

Photo courtesy of Nynne Schroder

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