You kiss a guy and then run around and tell everyone that you kissed him. That “hot” guy that you had been hoping to go out with. The guy you had hoped would notice you and he did. You are absolutely giddy with excitement over where that might lead you two. As you are sharing the story with one of your friends, she asks, “Did you guys tongue-kiss or just peck each other on the lips?”
You think to yourself, “If I didn’t use my tongue, is it still a kiss?” You tell your friend it was just a peck. It was a very nice peck on the lips. You start to justify, “I felt his lips fully against mine. They were so soft and I got tingly everywhere. It was amazing. It was a kiss!” But your friend tells you, “It’s not really a kiss because you didn’t use your tongue.”
You feel embarrassed now. It wasn’t really a kiss. So you explain to your friend, “I guess I have to ‘untell’ everyone.
Let’s talk about the word untell. What does that even mean? The word untell doesn’t exist in any dictionary but I found a definition of it online, here. The word untell means, “to make as if not counted.” It’s a nullification. So in the above scenario, to untell about the kiss would be to tell others it didn’t “count.” In other words, it wasn’t real.
Now let’s relate this to miscarriage. My last post was about announcing a pregnancy early. Many women are scared to announce early because of the chance of miscarriage. It’s definitely a chance but so is stillbirth. Should women wait until the baby has been born alive before announcing? I am sure some women have actually done this and they needed to do it for their own reasons. There is nothing wrong with it but I bet most of you reading this wouldn’t wait until the baby was born before announcing to everyone that you were pregnant and this time the baby made it.
So, in talking with other women about announcing early, some women say they wouldn’t announce early (they would wait until at least 12 or 20 weeks) because they don’t want to have to untell people about their baby/pregnancy. Knowing what the unofficial definition of “untell” means, what is this really saying about our pregnancies?
- I wasn’t really pregnant.
- My baby wasn’t real.
- My baby didn’t count.
Those are just three that come to mind. What comes to your mind?
I first heard the term a few weeks ago at a support group. The woman used the term when she was talking about how she announced but now would have to “untell” everyone again because she had a miscarriage. I cringed hearing it for the first time especially in this forum because I felt it invalidated my own personal experience with miscarriage. I knew she meant no harm. They were merely her words used to describe how she felt about her miscarriage. As I thought about that, I felt sad that she didn’t feel worthy of calling the experience what it was. Someone must have said something to her that invalidated her baby/pregnancy. Maybe the infamous, “it’s just a ball of cells?”
I didn’t think much about it following the group until I heard the term again. Oddly, in relation to my last post. “I don’t want to have to untell people, so I wait.” Not the exact words but pretty close. I was curious what the word “untell” meant to her and probed but never received a response. I returned the next morning to see she deleted her comment and feel horrible that she did that. She probably unliked the page as well and I hope she comes back because I was genuinely interested in discussing the term in hopes to help her feel worthy of her pregnancies/babies.
We often want the language surrounding miscarriage to change. I certainly don’t like the term spontaneous abortion when referring to miscarriage but that’s the official medical term. So let’s try to help others not use the term “untell.” We aren’t nullifying our pregnancies that end in miscarriage. We aren’t “not counting” our pregnancies that end in miscarriage. I am sure each of you can count all of the miscarriages you have experienced and you remember them with great detail.
So let’s call “it” what IT is. It’s miscarriage. “I was pregnant, and I had a miscarriage.” It validates our pregnancy and our baby. It validates our experience. It gives awareness to what we have been through and might be suffering through. We don’t need to continue to suffer in silence and hide our grief because of how others might feel. We don’t need to hide our pregnancies and suppress our happiness because it’s early and we might experience a miscarriage.
We are pregnant in this moment. A line is a line as my last post said. You are pregnant. You are expecting. If it ends in miscarriage, that doesn’t meant the pregnancy/baby didn’t exist (your doctor will certainly count it in your chart). We tell people about our miscarriage. We share our story because that is what will help the next woman who experiences it. When she does, you won’t feel like it’s “untelling.” You will hold her and carry her through this.
Can we change this language amongst our struggling sisters?