I have seen so many families and organizations relishing over Mark Zuckerberg’s miscarriage announcement. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan have had three miscarriages before conceiving the baby girl they are now pregnant with. The New York Post, Today, CNN, and The Huffington Post all carried the story. They and other news outlets used statements such as “Zuckerberg destigmatizes miscarriage…, Zuckerberg is applauded…, Zuckerberg’s revelation on miscarriage…,” blah, blah, blah.
Many of the organizations I am an active part in have come out to thank Mr. Zuckerberg for sharing. Some of my closest friends and bereavement groups have applauded him for saying something but I don’t think he really did all that much to help. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that others have come out to share their stories because Mr. Zuckerberg made a miscarriage announcement but in all honesty, I haven’t found his announcement to be all that. Here’s why.
He announced that they experienced miscarriages and made a brief statement, “You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.” This statement is so true. Hubby made a similar statement during our Baby Gus’s commendation ceremony, but I think he could have done more for the pregnancy loss community, especially the first trimester loss community.
He offered up a tiny glimpse of what miscarriage is like for men. I agree it’s lonely despite how many women experience miscarriage (1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage). I am glad he talked about miscarriage from the father’s point of view but is it enough to make a difference or impact? It’s still early following his announcement but I wonder if this too will be silenced quickly. Miscarriage is such a hush, hush topic and society doesn’t deem a loss this early worthy of grieving. I hope his announcement will help change all that.
Now lets talk about Sam and Nia. Sam and Nia are vloggers and had just announced their pregnancy on Wednesday. Their video went viral and according to their Facebook page, their video reached over 1 million views. I remember their video popping up in my news feed. Someone else had shared it and I thought this was amazing for a husband to be so excited and come up with a way to tell his wife she was pregnant.
I felt like I was right there with them and I felt the disappointment with Nia when she couldn’t be the one to surprise Sam. Although I am sure she was super excited even though she couldn’t surprise him, I too understand the planning of how you will share the news with your man that you are pregnant. I never imagined a man could know before the woman that she was pregnant and I was in awe over this.
I shared their video on my own timeline and I don’t do this very often but something struck me about their news. Then yesterday, I logged on to see a reply to the video and a friend shared that Sam and Nia had had a miscarriage. My heart sank. I knew Nia’s devastation. My hubby knows Sam’s heartbreak. In his grief, this is what Sam did.
I don’t think Mr. Zuckerberg wasn’t courageous, he absolutely was but his miscarriage announcement on Facebook was just that…a statement. It was a simple “We had some miscarriages along the way but now we are pregnant with the ‘baby we get to keep,'” message.
In my opinion, Zuckerberg isn’t destigmatizing miscarriage at all. He is further stigmatizing it. His statement is a mere blow over of the miscarriages. It’s okay to tell others AFTER we are are further along in a pregnancy. This kind of announcement feeds the stigmatization that we shouldn’t announce a pregnancy right away. Others in the same situation might say, “Maybe we shouldn’t announce our pregnancy until we are farther along like the Zuckerberg’s?” Implying that there is some magical safe zone or that announcing early may somehow jinx the pregnancy?
Another form of the stigmatization is that there WILL BE a happy ending. That the babies lost along the way weren’t that big of a deal [my words] because this is the baby we get to “keep.” I hate to say this, but there isn’t always a “happy” ending. Some women will never go on to have a living baby. And those babies DO matter as I am sure they do to the Zuckerberg’s.
His statement was really a pregnancy announcement, not an announcement about miscarriage. “Look how far along we are now, we are in a safe zone now, we can announce our pregnancy now.” He just happened to mention his miscarriages.
But even bigger, is that this further stigmatizes that there is a “safe zone” in pregnancy. His own statement even mentions this, “Our good news is that our pregnancy is now far enough along that the risk of loss is very low and we are very hopeful.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of miscarriage is about 25% (although some studies show it is much higher).
Once you see a heartbeat, which occurs as early as 6 weeks gestation, 78% of pregnancies will continue. This article states that after you see a heartbeat at 6-7 weeks gestation, the risk of miscarriage is 5%. At 8 weeks gestation, there is about a 2% risk of miscarrying and the miscarriage risk drops to about 1.5% beyond 10 weeks. Once a woman enters the second trimester, her risk of miscarriage is about 1%.
Would he have shared their losses if they didn’t go on to have a pregnancy farther along when the “risk is low?” Yes, there is a low risk where you are in your pregnancy, but tell that to the 23,000 families who experience stillbirth every year. Mr. Zuckerberg, I am so happy you and your wife are pregnant and have made it this far in the pregnancy but there is no “safe zone.”
So here we have two popular families sharing about miscarriage; first trimester miscarriage I might add. I have been shouting from the roof tops over this particular type of loss. “Miscarriage sucks! It hurts! We have a right to grieve!” This is why I wrote my first book and recently published It’s Not ‘Just’ a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook. Now we have others who share in it as well and it sucks they have to experience it. It is great that we are hearing about miscarriage in the news and I am so happy others can find comfort and feel good about sharing their own news. 1 million people saw Sam and Nia’s pregnancy announcement, I wonder how many views their miscarriage announcement will get?
I have some messages for Sam and Nia and the Zuckerberg’s.
Nia, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I know how sad you feel right now. I am here for you and would love to talk with you and help you through this difficult time. Please know there is a huge community of other loss mothers who share in your pain. Your baby knows you loved her. I hope you name her and share her name with the world. Your life has been forever changed and you will no longer have the blessing of naivety during your pregnancies. You did not announce too early. Please don’t stop yourself from announcing your next pregnancy early. I am so sorry for your loss.
Sam, guys go through this differently but there are definitely guys out there willing to talk. Thank you for sharing your emotions with us. I am truly sorry you have to experience this loss.
Priscilla, I wish you a safe and healthy pregnancy. I truly hope that you will finally get to hold and love on your baby. I know the pain and uncertainty of pregnancy after a loss. I am here for you should you want to talk about the journey you are on. You may never feel there is a safe zone and that’s okay. There are so many of us who have been in your shoes and we are here to walk with you.
Mark, thank you for sharing your miscarriages. It probably wasn’t easy to share and the grief felt from those losses is very real. You have helped others to share their grief when they otherwise wouldn’t. While I may not believe your news helps destigmatize miscarriage, it did take courage to talk about miscarriage. I hope you will share more.
For all loss mothers, you know I am here. I have always been here. My bereavement ministry is always here to help you. You are loved and you are not alone.
– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
Yes, this post was edited and a few statements were removed to provide a more clear direction for this post. The direction is how miscarriage is stigmatized. With some of the comments I have received, I just want to say that maybe this may be the way the Zuckerberg's share because they were following societal norms on miscarriage. One things for sure, the Zuckerberg's announcement has helped so many to see that miscarriage is not rare and affects everyone.