I’ve been writing this column for a long time, 7 years if we are counting, and I’ve covered probably every topic possible in regards to healthy living – fitness is physical and also mental. We’ve talked body image disorders, training for your first 10km, exercising while battling cancer, and the importance of self-care. But today I want to create a conversation around something that I haven’t written about because, up until Monday, I had never experienced it: Miscarriages.
They happen and they happen more than we think. Some statistics say 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriages while others say 1 in 4. That is a 25% chance, which means, probably, you have either had one yourself or know someone who has.
I peed on a stick 5 weeks ago and to my surprise I was pregnant. I was surprised because my partner and I had only given it one go and at 38 I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly. I was excited but also terrified. With it happening so fast I really didn’t have the opportunity to prepare myself for what life with a child would be like. I’ve never been one of those women who’s always wanted to be a mom but I love kids and I love my partner so I thought we would give it a try.
Some of you might be shocked to learn the things I googled the first week after learning I was pregnant. Words like regret, scared, fear and how to be a good mom were all typed in my search box. I wanted to find other women who were feeling what I was feeling so I could relieve some of the guilt that I was experiencing for not being as excited as I thought I should be. For anyone reading this who has felt that way, let me assure you it is normal.
A few weeks go by and I’m settled into this idea. My partner and I have come up with a plan on how to make this work and I even bought a cute little onesie while on vacation in Hawaii. I told those close to me, my family, friends and coworkers that I was expecting, much to the dismay of many of the women in my life from generations before me. I held onto my excitement a little bit but I needed the support. Why did I have to keep it a secret? I was insanely sick every day, and a bag of ever changing emotions. I couldn’t spend the next 4 months hiding a secret just in case I had a miscarriage. To be honest, I didn’t think I would become a statistic and come June I was going to have a perfect little baby.
Well that didn’t happen and yesterday I learned that although my body is still building this being inside me, it does not have a heart beat. Because of this, my body still thinks it is pregnant and will for a while so I must now go have the pregnancy ended surgically.
Why am I telling you this? Because I feel like this needs to be talked about more. You wouldn’t believe how many people have shared their own stories with me in just 24 hours. Women, and men, who have kept their miscarriages a secret for decades. Women who are on their 4th pregnancy terrified that this one will also end in a miscarriage like the first 3 did. Or women who have never even had the joy of seeing a positive sign on a pregnancy test.
Why do we keep it a secret? To keep others from being excited about becoming a grandma or grandpa or aunt or uncle? To keep our own excitement down? Speaking from experience, I’m pretty sure it hurts just the same whether you allowed yourself to be excited or not. And if we don’t share the news then we suffer with the loss alone, without the support we need to get through something like this. You show up at work the same as you’ve done everyday except you now feel a little less alive and a little more frightened to try again because you’ve read that once you’ve had one miscarriage the chances of having another rise.
Just like the world is starting to shed light on the importance of mental health awareness I also think it’s time that women feel safe to share their pregnancies and their miscarriages. To share their fears, their excitement and to be able to tell people that the smell of coffee makes them puke right now so please don’t drink it in front them. It is not our fault and there is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I’m a 38 year old woman who had a miscarriage, no shame. But I’m going to try again and I will get excited when I see that positive test again and I will know that whatever happens after that is not in my control.