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I am having my second miscarriage in a row. I am waiting for my body to expel a much wanted pregnancy that in our sense of joy and good fortune, my husband and I had already announced to family and friends. My first miscarriage this spring was very early (5.5 weeks) and I recovered from it with relative ease. But this morning, suddenly no longer pregnant at 7.5 weeks, I was flooded by a tidal wave of rage.

I yelled at my 5-year-old daughter who was impaling a potted plant with her light saber. I tried to pick a fight with my husband, who wasn’t in the mood to oblige.

And then, it hit me.

I was angry because I had told so many people about this pregnancy and I was ashamed to have somehow “lost” it. I was angry at the very fact that I was feeling this shame. And angry that there was an expectation that I should have waited until it was a “sure thing” before announcing it, as if there could ever be a sure thing in this world anyway. I was angry that my imprudence might be seen by some as a form of hubris for which I was being punished.

I was angry because I am expected to carry a triple burden: the burden of fertility; the burden of pregnancy itself; and perhaps most of all, the burden of silence if a pregnancy is lost.

After my daughter was born, I was appalled at the lack of information that is readily available to women about their prenatal healthcare and birthing choices. But if there were a way for women to share their real experiences more publicly with one another, rather than sugarcoating or glossing over the more unpleasant aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, wouldn’t we be in a better position to advocate for ourselves and for our families? The same seems to be true of miscarriage.

My anger this morning drove me to post a Facebook status update that read:

“Miscarriages suck, and one of the worst things about them is the silence that surrounds them. As a culture, we are socialized to not talk about them publicly or worse, pretend they never happened. Well, fuck that. Right now, I am going through my second miscarriage in a row: first one at 5.5 weeks; this one at 7.5 weeks. So, Friends, please share your experiences. I’d love to hear your thoughts.”

I posted this not because I wanted pity or sympathy. I did it because I thought it might make me feel better to speak publicly about what I was going through in the hope that other people would share their experiences, too, and that by sharing, we might all feel a bit better in the realization that we aren’t alone.

The outpouring of responses I received both publicly and privately was incredible. Not only did people tell their own stories of loss (some of which I had not known although I thought I knew the tellers quite well), but helpful medical information was also shared. And most importantly, a good deal of anger and resentment about how their losses had been treated was aired.

My friend Robin was the first to comment:

“I don’t understand the tradition of not telling people you are pregnant until after 12 weeks. The sole reason for that tradition is to hold the news back in case you miscarry. That logic seems contrary when a miscarriage is exactly the moment you would want people to know and provide support, yet you are supposed to just suffer a loss as if it never happened. We should change that tradition, starting now.” These words felt like a call to arms.

Marybeth said that “it was worse when the people I did tell told me it was meant to be and it took everything I had not to bitch-slap them. I wound up keeping a lot of it to myself because the you can have others and the baby was deformed comments sent me further into despair.”

And Aldis said:

“I lost my last three pregnancies and the culture of silence is the strangest thing. Some people get so uncomfortable when you tell them because no one ever talks about it. Yet I’ve also found that when you do talk about it, so many people have experienced this. I would say that around 75% of my friends with healthy babies have suffered at least one miscarriage. And most of the time I had no idea until I had my own miscarriage. People end up so isolated in their grief.”

In comment after comment, friends were demonstrating that our feelings about miscarriage are unique, myriad, and diverse, and that the standard responses, whether in the form of platitudes or denial, are not only inadequate, but can even exacerbate feelings of shame, isolation, and anger.

The question remains as to why we as a culture seem so compelled to remain silent on the subject of miscarriage. Echoing my friend Robin’s sentiment, Emily Bazelon wonders in her article “Motherhood Lost” for Slate “why the common assumption is still that it’s better, or in better taste, to grieve for the loss of a pregnancy in private.” Her guess is that it’s to do with the abortion debate and the feminist political position that life begins at viability. “When we miscarry,” she says, “we are disturbed to find ourselves mourning a child rather than a mass of developing cells.” What we lose is so much more.

Women’s health is not simply an issue of women’s rights, but a matter of human rights. I received a number of surprising comments from men whose wives or partners had experienced miscarriages. Their grief and sense of loss were just as real, just as raw, just as palpable as the women’s, as was their rage, and this made it abundantly clear to me that what was happening on this Facebook thread was much more than just friends expressing sympathy for my loss, or people commiserating over shared traumas.

My Facebook thread became something much bigger than myself or my group of friends. What I realized was that: 1. Miscarriage is not only a women’s experience, but a universal experience, and silencing it is harmful to all of us; and 2. We can change things simply by speaking out.

At this time in our history, when debates are resurging over women’s health and reproductive rights, when our bodies are again on the frontline of our constitutional rights as Americans, the personal, as Carol Hanisch famously said, is still political. It has never stopped being political. And the truth is, as ever, a highly valuable and carefully controlled commodity. When people speak the truth to one another, all sorts of amazing things happen.

And you know what? I do feel better.

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WENDY CHIN-TANNER is the author of Turn (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards, and co-author of American Terrorist (A Wave Blue World). Her poetry has been nominated for The Best of the Net Prize and the Pushcart Prize, and has been published at The Rumpus, Vinyl Poetry, Denver Quarterly, The Huffington Post, RHINO Poetry, The Normal School, The Mays Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge, and elsewhere. She is a founding editor at Kin Poetry Journal, poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown, staff interviewer at Lantern Review, and co-founder of A Wave Blue World.

24 responses to “Announcing My Miscarriage 
on Facebook”

  1. Becky Palapala says:

    I was forced to tell my trainer (horses) that I was pregnant very early on in my first pregnancy because I had to explain why I wouldnt be out to ride, and I don’t like to lie.

    I miscarried at abut 6 weeks, and avoided her for a year because I didn’t want to talk about it. I had mostly recovered emotionally (was maybe even preg w/my daughter), when my trainer called to inquire about the 3month-old baby that I must surely have by now.

    It was DEVASTATING.

    I get what you’re after, and I know many women who would agree and who proudly announce their pregnancies at very early on, but not everyone needs to grieve publicly. Sometimes, for some people, it may be therapeutic. And good for them.

    But there is the hint of the suggestion here that because it’s perceived as normative or status quo, choosing to grieve privately is not legitimate, that it’s just slavery to tradition or acceptance of emotional oppression that women (or people in general) ought to be divested of. That seems silly to me.

    Talking isn’t for everybody any more than silence is.

    • That is absolutely not what I meant to suggest, Becky. We all grieve differently and doing so privately or silently is certainly valid. What I am getting at, however, is that our cultural norms around miscarriage in particular, but also grief in general, often do not take into account or leave space for the complexity and myriad responses that women and men who have experienced pregnancy loss can have.

      In Japan, there is a ritual known as Mizuko kuyo (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizuko_kuy%C5%8D and http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/21/magazine/mourning-my-miscarriage.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm) in which babies who are not born are acknowledged. I am sure that people are not obliged to perform this ritual if they would prefer to grieve privately, but my sense is that it’s certainly helpful for some to have this option available for making sense of and commemorating their experience.

      Judith Herman in “Trauma and Recovery” writes about how one of the ways that people successfully heal from trauma is to make meaning out of their experience. I believe this is true. And I believe there are many different ways of doing so. What I mean to suggest in my essay is that we would benefit from a more open and inclusive attitude towards different ways of mourning.

      I am so terribly sorry for your loss, Becky. It is devastating. And I hope you find your way of healing. Best wishes to you.

  2. Suzanne says:

    I really appreciated this article. I think part of the reason women, and men, are reluctant to talk about miscarriage is because of the ambivalence in our culture as to how to identify the loss. Some of our traditions for handling death are quite open, such as the rituals involved in funerals and burial services, and yet for a miscarriage we have no clear language for what has happened, or shared ceremony.

    Yet reproductive issues are very much the business of the individual, and there are many aspects that women consider very personal and private, ranging from their positions on birth control and abortion, to fertility drugs and artificial insemination. Differing religious and political beliefs only complicate the issue, perhaps causing some to be even more private.

    While I agree with the previous comment that everyone has their own way of dealing with loss, I still think it is worth discussing how the discussion of miscarriage has become almost taboo in our culture.

    • Thank you, Suzanne. You raise some very strong and interesting points here. I am particularly intrigued by what you said about the medicalization/commodification of reproduction and its possible connection with how we deal with miscarriage. Fascinating and worth further exploration.

      I believe that all ways of dealing with loss are valid until and unless they begin to invalidate other ways.

  3. Carly Kimmel says:

    Wendy-
    I’m so sorry for your loss and also very appreciative of your essay. I went through a very public struggle with fertility and subsequent miscarriages before having my children and what I remember about the public versus private grieving was not only the shame (what is WRONG with me?!) that you mentioned, but also the intense guilt I felt for dragging my loved ones through all the devastation with me. I remember my in-laws quietly crying after our second loss (in the early 2nd tri) and feeling like I had hurt them even more by telling them I was pregnant in the first place and giving them hope that this time things would be different. In the end, I had no choice but to be public simply because it has never been in my nature to keep things to myself, but it was never easy for me. I doubt either option ever could be….

    • Thank you, Carly. I am so sorry for your losses, too.

      I think you’re really onto something here – that perhaps one of the roots of silence is the urge to protect others from pain. But the pressure of secrecy can also make us miserable.

      My friend said to me recently that the threat of miscarriage pushes the entire first trimester – a time when really we need support – into the shadows. I think there’s this fear that if we really accept what the loss of a wanted pregnancy means, the grief will be so great we won’t know what to do with it. But in my experience, when I shared publicly and listened to other people’s stories, it was profoundly healing for me and, I hope, for them, too.

  4. Angela V. says:

    Thank you for sharing your losses publicly and challenging the notions we have as a society of what’s appropriate or inappropriate to talk about. Reading essays such as yours encourages me to keep working on my own essay about my losses over the last year (at 11 weeks and at 9 weeks) and the crippling social expectation of silence. I have found it therapeutic to write about what I’ve been going through, as a way of purging my pain; but great comfort has also come from the reciprocal sharing it elicits from friends and family, just as you experienced. I felt so alone, but soon found I was among many.
    Peace and healing to you and your family.

    • Thank you, Angela. I am so very sorry for your losses, but I am very glad to hear that you have found your own way to comfort and solace. And yes, write your essay! I can’t wait to read it. Peace and healing to you and your family as well.

  5. Whitby says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Camie says:

    Wendy, I am so sorry about your loss. I understand and feel your pain. Today, I had a d&c to remove my twins (8 weeks old) who past sometime last week. This is my second miscarriage this year, my first happened this past March. I don’t know if it s the hormones but I am raging! Angry at seeing the twins little hearts beat one week and then see their still sacks the next week. I am 40 years old and I look like i am in my late 20’s and so somehow I felt I had more time to conceive. The truth, I am old even ancient to try for a baby as all the books say i am old and even my doctors. They warn me of statistics that I have a higher rate of miscarriage, a chromosomal defective child. Okay, So i didn’t listen and now here I am crying for miscarrying my twins. Still within me is a light that says not to give up! To grieve without destroying all I have inside which is hope. I am glad you posted as you comfort me with your eloquent words.

  7. Alicia says:

    I completely agree with you. I am going through my first pregnancy and first miscarriage at 24 years old. I am so angry. It is an impending miscarriage so I know the full sadness of it will come when it eventually happens which might take up to a month at the rate my body is going. I had to deal with insensitive healthcare workers and nurses which led to my anger. As well I told people I was pregnant and I feel ashamed now that I already bought maternity clothes and my parents bought me baby furniture even though I was only 10 weeks. (They live in VA, I’m stuck in WY so they visited as soon as I told them I was pregnant and they bought me these items on their visit because they knew they probably wouldn’t visit until the baby was born again.) My parents and husband have been so supportive but I am still angry over my whole situation. I had gone to the ER on a Friday and they never told me to expect a miscarriage even though I was only measuring to be 4-6 weeks when I was supposed to be 10 weeks. I had to call my obgyn after the weekend and demand to be seen because they did not want to fit me in. Then I was told by someone else that I shouldn’t expect special treatment! I wanted to know what was happening with my baby! My baby had a faint heartbeat on Friday in the ER but by Monday, my baby had passed away. I don’t feel like I should feel bad for demanding to be put into the doctor’s schedule! I know miscarriages happen alot but they still happen individually to women and it doesn’t make it any less hard for someone going through one! Women have a right to their feelings in these situations no matter what those feelings end up being!

  8. Dee says:

    I miscarried a week ago. I was excited being belief to be pregnant. I can’t face myself or others. I feel that I let me down. I grieve daily, can’t sleep, and cry my nights away. I also feel like I dare not share it as if the shame is too great. Thanks for the article.

  9. Hannah says:

    I had a miscarriage on February 25th. It was really nice (???) to be able to hear how angry someone was. And to hear that others have gone through the same thing somehow makes the blows a little bit softer. I really wish people talked about it more. It seems like such a taboo subject which is incredibly absurd.

  10. pixie says:

    I have just been told today that my baby has not grown since my last scan and there is no heartbeat. I now am faced with one of three choices on how to expel it. I measure 5 wjs 4 days

  11. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this. My first and only pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I was stunned by the lack of support from female friends. For ten months I raged privately and suffered a stunning depression. My husband finally admitted he does not want children after telling me for three years that he did. I feel so betrayed by people I trust.

    I wish there were more resources available to us. I could use a like-minded group of women in my town who I could talk with and support. If I am constantly subjected to familial updates on social media (and I am), then support for my situation should be met with equal empathy and care. Perhaps I ask too much of people.

  12. Daisy says:

    My story is a little different, but just as painful. 13 yrs ago I had a miscarriage, I remember everything about that moment, but at the time I didn’t now I was miscarrying, why? Because I didn’t even know I was pregnant. It wasn’t till a few yrs later, that I actually put everything together and figured out that what had happen that day was a miscarriage. At the time of figuring it out, I was ok with it, because after all I didn’t even know I was pregnant. At the time my children were 5, 3, 2, and about 8 months. (Yes my children are very close in age, which going with history, it was time to be pregnant again. LOL No, we weren’t try, but if it happened, we would be fine.) I actually did get pregnant again 2 years later. However, due to complications, during labor it was required to have an emergency hysterectomy. That was the end of having children for me. That’s when it hit me hard. Yes I delivered a beautiful baby boy, but he would be my last whether I wanted it or not. That to me was like loosing a child and then knowing I miscarried, That was loosing 2 children. Yes, I hit depression really bad. I hate hearing people say, “Well, you have 5 children” That doesn’t make it better or ok. I still hurt, I still lost children. What’s worse is not being able to talk about the miscarriage because I didn’t even know I was pregnant at the time. And since I didn’t know what had happened for a few years, how do you bring it up without sounding needy, or just wanting sympathy.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I am just livid. I am miscarrying for the fourth time. After three miscarriages, we gave up five years ago. I’m now 44, nearly 45. I was told the chances of my conceiving were nil. I grieved the dream and the idea of being a mother and had come to accept childlessness as our reality. Fine. We dealt with it and moved on. But then, out of the blue and with less than a .05% chance, I got pregnant two months ago. Got farther with the pregnancy than we ever had and then boom, another miscarriage. I am so angry. Okay, so I can’t have this. So it isn’t meant to be for me. So it isn’t going to be part of my and my husband’s life together. Okay. WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS AGAIN????? I accepted the facts. Why dangle it in front of me again only to yank it away???? I don’t understand what possible use this can be to the world. I don’t want to hear ‘it’s god’s plan’ because that just makes me angrier. It may very well be the truth, but right now, if this is god’s plan, it feels like god just wants to screw with me. And I am ANGRY

  14. Jessica says:

    Really angry too. Can not stop searching miscarriages. Have three children and have now had a miscarriage after each (gestation 8 weeks, 11 weeks 5 days, 12 weeks 4 days). Really really wanted a fourth. This totally sucks. D&C later this week. No bleeding or anything. Feel like total failure and yes I know I am not, etc.

  15. Rebekah says:

    I recently announced my miscarriage on Facebook and your post from two years ago is so similar to mine. The terrible silence. Then I scrolled through the comments. I’m glad it saw this. I’m having a hard one today. One of my oldest friends unfriended me on Facebook after saying Fuck you good luck getting over your shit, in response to a pretty mean comment I had made… I said she could give a shit about me having a miscarriage. but I’m so pissed and it triggered an incredible wave of grief and anger. I’m in crisis here and I guess I expected a different kind of support. And maybe I can only get that support from other women who have had miscarriages. Not friends who never want children.

  16. Frenglish79 says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. after the sudden loss of my father last year, husband and I decided to not waste any more time ( life is short) and that we were finally mature and established enough to become parents. We got pregnant quickly ( first try) and had to tell our families extremely early ( 5 weeks). This was the saving news for my family. My mother was finally finding purpose again since my dad passed. From then on, hubby was so excited ( I was more moderate, my closest friend just had a miscarriage and it made me nervous) that as soon as the 12 weeks mark passed we made an enormous announcement to all our friends and on social media, with an overwhelming 700 responses of excitement. Two weeks later, we were set to go to some 3D imagery place to find out the gender. Instead, that same day, I woke up and started bleeding uncontrollably. We rushed to the E R and discovered a silent ultrasound and had to go through an emergency D&C as I was bleeding to much. I had never been in a hospital or ever had any kind of surgery.
    All I could think about is how disappointed everyone was going to be. I didn’t even realize that day that my life was in danger, I just felt this enormous weight of guilt and responsability.
    We had to tell our entire circle of family and friends that day since everyone expected to know the gender.
    There was no “let’s take a minute to ourselves”.
    I was still receiving messages and phone calls of congratulations so I had to make just as big of an announcement on social medias that our baby had crossed the rainbow. It felt as the whole community was grieving with us. I too received many messages of friends, acquaintances who went through this once or several times. They called me “brave” for sharing my story and my sorrow.
    I felt so much anger and guilt and still have that feeling of having disappointed everyone. I have never really experienced failure in my life, I was very blessed with “checking the boxes” until now, and this could have not hit me any harder.
    I believe that we should be able to grieve the way we need. If we need to share with the World, it should be accepted, not called “Brave”.
    My OB told me that she was impressed with how hubby and I stay close and actually talked about it. She said it was very taboo in most couples and they usually decide to act like it sent happen.
    Well, it happened to us and hubby was holding my hand the whole time, so why not talk it through?
    In the end it has brought us closer than ever, and made us realize even more how much we want a little one to complete our family.
    We are trying to conceive now and hoping for the best the next time around. I hope we all get luckier this time! Thank you for sharing your story and for speaking up for all of us! Good luck 🙂

  17. Rose says:

    Great essay! I’m having kind of a dual reaction. On the one hand, you’re so right about the expectation of silence. I never really thought about it before, yet it seems so obvious now that you’ve pointed it out. On the other hand, I wonder how the woman who’s had an abortion is supposed to feel, listening to all the “good” women mourning for their 7-week-old “babies.” The good, innocent, approved-of women who didn’t want to lose their babies, who were the victims of a tragedy – the same tragedy that she, the bad woman, wanted and paid for. And the bad woman isn’t even traumatized by her loss, unnatural, unfeeling harlot that she is, she’s relieved, because she didn’t want to be pregnant and now she’s not. It’s like a whole new layer of implied judgment heaped upon her, while the women who are better off to begin with get more sympathy.

  18. Robbie says:

    We waited until 13 weeks to go public with our pregnancy. At 14 weeks we went in for a routine check up and found out I had a “missed miscarriage.” So if you are waiting to announce just in case of miscarriage, I say don’t bother. We waited until we were certain we were safe, threw a big party and had a fabulous evening celebrating with our friends, only to find out the baby had died and we just didn’t know it. There is no certainty, might as well tell at four weeks as at twelve because the worst could still happen. And the thing is, I am so happy for all the love and support of my friends. I don’t think I could make it through this without them. So I’m glad we told them about the pregnancy, and I’m even more glad we told them about the miscarriage.

  19. Caroline Ahmed says:

    My name is Caroline Ahmed from New York,After 6 years of marriage with no child i finally I got pregnant Glory to God almighty my Dear sister am writing to you to share with you what the Iya Hindi Has done, I said to myself that I will testify when the Hindi does this with herbal medicine ,I emailed you for a request of your pregnancy medicine last year after seeing the testimonies of other ladies on your website online I decided t put my faith and come in agreement with you.Your pregnancy medicine and You prayed for me we agreed for me to conceive, Hallelujah!! Yes I did conceive two months after and I am now 4 months pregnant Glory to the Almighty God. I know I will have a smooth and easy delivery soon.contact him. hindinative@yahoo.com

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