The secrets women keep (and why it’s not doing any of us any good)

Stereotypes say we talk; we gossip, we blab, we were born with a voice. And yet sometimes, it seems we shut up about the things we should really be talking about.

I’m here to tell you, staying silent isn’t doing us any favors.

This week, my husband and I found out we’d lost our pregnancy at eight weeks. Unfortunately, this is the second time we’ve heard similar news — it was an echo of a heartbreak we’d already suffered in April.

This Friday, I went through surgery for the second time, closing the door on our second attempt at creating a family.

Two people, hoping and trying for a child, now 10 months into the process and starting over.

Sadly, this happens more often than most people know. An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, but for whatever reason, we women feel the need to suffer these losses in silence.

Etiquette tells us to wait until you’re in the “safe zone” of the second trimester before sharing your happy news, should anything bad happen. But even that safety zone is a myth; too many women have suffered the devastation of a second trimester loss. The real truth is that we’re afraid to suffer those first trimester losses in the eyes of others. We’re operating under the understanding that early losses are to be mourned as a family or just as a couple, not shared with others.

It’s like we’re afraid it says something about our womanhood, about our ability to be a mother. In reality, early term miscarriages are rarely caused by any fault of the mother, but are rather an unfortunately consequence of a chromosomal abnormality. But even though miscarriage could be as common as 1 in 4 pregnancies, keeping silent means keeping each other alone in our suffering. No one talks about it, so it’s hard to know exactly how common it really is. People all around the world are putting on a brave face because they feel as though it’s not their right to burden others with their bad news.

But a burden shared is a burden lightened, and we’d all be better off remembering that. In fact, we’d all be better off remembering that:

Not all childless couples want to be that way.

Not all women who get pregnant get to bring home their child.

That just because she’s pretending everything is OK doesn’t mean it is.

That when you ask someone when they’re going to have kids, you may be speaking to someone who’s grieving on the inside.

I consider myself lucky in that I have family members who understand all too well what I’m going through. And it can work both ways: I know that discussing our first loss with my mother brought her some closure after nearly 29 years of not truly understanding her own loss. Nothing makes it easier, but knowing I’m not alone helps me continue to hope for a happy ending.

I think if we could all be a little more honest about how hard building a family can be, maybe we’d all feel a little less alone.

 

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Please be kind to each other.