“Well, if this is so common, then why do we only speak about it in whispers, if we speak about it at all? If this is so common, why does it feel like the Voldemort of women’s issues?” Actress Laura Benanti made this statement today regarding her personal experience with miscarriage. She is not alone in these thoughts. Miscarriage is so common yet it’s talked about in whispers and not as openly as women should hear.
It’s not about inducing fear, it’s about inducing awareness. Miscarriage Happens! Why not share these things happen? If we continue to remain silent about this, then women will continue to suffer in silence and feel alone in their very real grief. Yes, Zuckerberg announced he and his wife experienced three miscarriages before they became pregnant with their current baby which they hope to bring home but his statement was more focused on their current pregnancy rather than their losses. I shared those thoughts in this post.
Laura shares that she and her fiance were in love and that their love created a person. They saw their baby’s heartbeat but the next day she learned their baby had died. Bleeding and cramping had begun which is a sign of miscarriage. This experience can be completely devastating. Often, women are left to keep moving and functioning yet it’s so hard. I know stories of women delivering their babies in bathrooms at their office, in their home, on the fields of a war zone, on planes, on movie sets, and while on business trips.
If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, you might not know all the detail of that experience. When we think about delivering a baby on an airplane, it seems scary and risky, yet mothers do this all the time with their miscarried babies and no one bats an eye. Why? Is it not as risky or scary? Is the difference between life and death? Should these stories of delivery remain silent? I shared the story of The Homebirth of Evelyn Rose a few weeks ago and the responses received were astounding.
“This is birth!”
“I feel so bad that she had no support for her birth.”
“I can’t believe she was prescribed a medication and sent home to deliver alone.”
Those who read the story, knew the intimate details of miscarriage at home and learned how dangerous that can be at that gestation. Evelyn’s story was not silenced and it is used for training purposes regularly. If a woman wants to leave a legacy for her child and share their birth story, it should not be any different for a living baby vs. a baby who dies.
Benanti’s statement, “Why, if my neighbor sees me looking sad and asks me if I am okay, is it perfectly acceptable to tell her my aunt passed away, or I lost my job, or I had to put my dog down — but if I tell her I experienced a miscarriage, I am somehow inappropriately oversharing?” is so completely true. Benanti speaks the truth of what we all know and feel during loss. Why should she keep that information silent?
Who is being protected when sharing that information? I participated in a Webinar last night with the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death, and this topic was discussed. By keeping this information silent, are we furthering that silent stigma and the shame of miscarriage? Are we protecting society from hearing about a taboo subject that is too painful for them (death of a baby/child)? Is this something to brush under the rug so no one knows it happens? In many cultures, this is more of an expected experience and for a child to be brought home alive means everyone can take a sigh of relief. In our American culture, we expect to bring home a living baby, not the opposite.
I can almost guarantee that if Benanti shared that she had to put her dog down that she would receive more empathy and support than if she shared she experienced a miscarriage because her baby died. Why is this? Can we speculate that part of this is the controversial topic of abortion? If we recognize that a miscarriage and the grief experienced is because we lost a baby vs. lost a pregnancy does that change the experience of abortion? I am not here to debate abortion but we cannot discount that abortion may play a role in society’s opinion that we should keep miscarriage silent.
Not every woman wants to speak about their miscarriage though and by speaking about it, we may bring about shame and guilt for those women. It’s okay if they don’t want to speak about it but those who do want to speak should not be silenced either. They shouldn’t feel shameful for sharing their experience and they shouldn’t feel they are “oversharing” when they do talk about their miscarriage.
It is wonderful that celebrities are sharing about their miscarriages. Somehow, that gives all of us more strength to share and helps us see that it’s okay to share. It helps to break that silence on miscarriage. It brings more empathy and more clout to our experiences. Beyonce also shared about her miscarriage. Her first child with the man that she loved. Her words, which are so true, can be heard here along with the song she wrote for her child.
Thank you Laura Benanti, for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for your loss and hope that you received the love and support you deserve for the grief you are experiencing. Thank you for speaking out for all women who have suffered this loss. I appreciate you sharing what all of us loss mothers know, our grief is real and we have the right to share.
– Breaking the silence of first trimester miscarriage.