Breaking the Silence and Sharing Our Story
I’ve noticed a lot of us seem to be afraid of sharing our miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy loss and/or infertility journey with others. Some of us have told a few people, some have told no-one, some have told the world such as Justine at www.everupward.org.
Since this post is going to focus on my opinions of sharing, I think it’s important to explain where we are in telling people about our recurrent pregnancy loss.
Our journey to sharing was slow. Our first 2 miscarriages were silent, shared only amongst my husband and I. Our decision not to share was not based in shame, but rather based in a desire to surprise our families with happy news about a healthy pregnancy. We knew that statistically 2 consecutive miscarriages are considered normal (although rare), so we didn’t think too much about it. This meant we went through one emergency D&C without any family support. My husband stayed with me at the hospital and balanced no sleep, running home to let the dog out, and a wife who had very low blood pressure and heart rate after the surgery which required a longer than normal stay in the hospital. We did it alone by choice.
That changed for us when we found out our third little baby was going to die. We told a few very select people. We knew based on the statistics that everything about our family future was changing and that our chances of having children were drastically reduced with a third miscarriage. We determined who we told based on who we felt would be supportive and also who wasn’t pregnant as we didn’t want to scare them with more fears. We needed support and love so we opened the door to some people although we asked them to keep this news to themselves. We still were not ready to share with the world. We were afraid of being overrun by people’s version of supportive comments (see a post on that here and here), which we knew would hurt and upset us. We feared a bunch of sympathy cards that we just didn’t want to read. We feared getting attention for a negative reason, when all we wanted was attention for a celebration of our first baby’s birth.
We still went through the miscarriage on our own, my husband and I were the only ones a sitting in the emergency room, and going to the surgery, but it was nice to know people cared. We still sucked at asking for help when we really needed it – for example, we really needed someone to go get us groceries, but just didn’t know how to ask for help. We are two fiercely independent people and asking for help was just too much for us.
Both our companies knew about the 3rd pregnancy, and therefore knew about the miscarriage. They also know about the 4th pregnancy and loss as well. And since I’ve left work, everyone in my profession knows about our recurrent pregnancy loss, as I’ve been very honest about why I’m taking time away from working. (I felt it was better to share this part of my life then to have people think I was having some sort of mental health breakdown for no reason).
So, today, after 5 miscarriages, we still have people who do not know. We have very important people who do not know because we believe they won’t provide the support we need and/or they live far away and we’ve decided they just don’t need to know. But, we are starting to tell more people and we know we will end up telling the remaining people sooner rather than later. The news is starting to spread and even though we still don’t want attention for a negative reason, I have no doubt that it will happen.
So, while I’ve noticed the fear in the community about sharing our stories with our friends and family, I want to say that we too live with this fear. I too have an anonymous blog which allows me to share my feelings with the world, but not with those we love the most. And, even though, I am still doing it to an extent, I think it’s an absolute travesty that we, as in the infertility community, feel the need to keep this hidden.
There is a social stigma attached to miscarriage and infertility largely based in a complete lack of understanding. And it makes no sense, that we as a community allow this and forces ourselves to live a double life – the public vs. the private. It forces us to constantly walk a balance beam, trying to deal with social acceptance on one side and our own deep emotions and feelings on the other. I’m starting to liken it to those in the gay and lesbian community who have not come out. Given that I do not know that experience, I am not sure that its’ the best analogy, but it seems to make sense in my mind.
I for one, feel that by voicing our story, we can start to educate and remove that stigma. And, we can also help others going through their own infertility.
So, I am doing this. I am sharing. My husband and I started taking baby steps by telling a few people after our third miscarriage. And now we are telling more and more people about our story. Our steps are getting bigger as we are getting the courage to share, to enlighten and to educate.
We are no-longer hiding our truth. We are no longer keeping everything quite.
In fact, I’ve take a very big step this week. I told 2 people who are very important to me about this blog – my Aunt and Uncle. I took a big risk by giving them the website address and therefore the ability to read my inner most thoughts. And, I also told them about my goal to publish a memoir or at least start publishing pieces of my work. I’m petrified of failure, so sharing this was a significant step because now if it doesn’t happen, others will know about my failure. And, of course, there are a lot of other fears about sharing my blog with them. What if they hate it? What if they tell my dad (who for the time being I’m not telling about my blog, but expect to eventually when I feel the time is right)? What if they think I’m completely crazy once they read it (and they are certified to make a professional judgement given their educational and professional backgrounds). For me, it is one thing to face criticism from people I don’t know, it’s an entirely different thing to face it from my family and from real life people whose opinions matter deeply to me.
So, after a slight panic attack over my fears, I’m pushing them aside. I cannot think that way, because really, what if they love it? What if they know the right person to help me get into the publishing industry? What if we have two more people in our corner, supporting us in our struggle to grow our family? There are a million and one positive possibilities, and I need to focus on them as I work to share my story and hopefully inspire others enduring recurrent pregnancy loss and miscarriages.
So, in an effort to break the silence and reduce the stigma of miscarriage and infertility, I am going to keep sharing our story. I am going to keep risking my fears and telling people.
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