This post has been modified from the original version. You can access the original by clicking on the link at the end of this post.
I have seen so many families and organizations relishing over Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnancy announcement where he shared that 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 is destigmatizing miscarriage. 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 three 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.”
Oh how true this is. Thank you for saying this. Hubby made a similar statement during our Baby Gus’s commendation ceremony, but I think if Mr. Zuckerberg was bringing awareness to miscarriage, he would have said much more.
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 shared his thoughts about his experience but I do not see this as destigmatization or miscarriage. Miscarriage is such a hush, hush topic and society doesn’t deem a loss this early worthy of grieving. I hope his statement 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.
The method Sam came up with to determine pregnancy seemed far fetched but plausible. With vlogging you are right there with the vlogger and I did feel like I was right there with them. I felt the disappointment with Nia when she couldn’t be the one to surprise Sam of her pregnancy.
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.
Then yesterday, I logged on to see a reply to the video and a friend shared that Sam and Nia had had a miscarriage. In their grief, this is what Sam and Nia did.
Here are two very different ways of talking about miscarriage. Sam, was making an announcement that he and his wife miscarried. Mr. Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife are pregnant and along their journey, experienced three miscarriages. There is no right or wrong way to tell people about miscarriage but I don’t think that Zuckerberg was actually attempting to advocate that. And now people think that Sam and Nia staged the pregnancy and miscarriage entirely.
What makes one loss experience more real than the other? Others have commented that no one should announce pregnancy until at least the 12 week scan; so many hateful and hurtful comments for Sam and Nia but mostly praise to Zuckerberg. Should people blow over their miscarriages and only mention them after they are far along in a pregnancy? This stigmatization of miscarriage must change.
In my opinion, Zuckerberg isn’t destigmatizing miscarriage at all. His words make the statement that it’s only okay to tell others AFTER we 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.
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 that it’s okay to share their miscarriage. But I am not applauding Mark Zuckerberg like my counterparts. It is horrible that he and his wife experienced miscarriage but this was their pregnancy announcement, not a miscarriage announcement.
– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
Yes, this post was edited. To read the original post, please click here.
Thanks for your point of view, Elizabeth, as this was my reaction too. I applaud your courage to put this out there, as I’m sure many people will take issue with your thoughts.
Let’s also not forget the babies that die in birth, after birth, or who are diagnosed in pregnancy as incompatible with life outside of the womb…These losses aren’t as plentiful as miscarriage, but certainly convince me that pregnancy carries no “safe” zone regardless of statistics and risk.
Thanks for this article. It’s almost like mine that I wrote on Friday and have been getting some push back for. Take a look. I think we have a similar perspective. However, I did applaud, but also critiqued with the same points you have. Thank you again for sharing! http://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com/what-mark-zuckerberg-got-right-in-his-pregnancy-after-loss-announcement-and-what-the-media-missed/
Thank you for sharing your blog. I am so sorry for the push back. I have edited mine so many times is ridiculous and I shouldn’t have to do that but I didn’t think my point was thoroughly being made. I appreciate all you do!