October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and "Good Morning America" is tackling the taboo topic of miscarriage and infant loss in our culture. To help de-stigmatize it, we are sharing real stories of women who have experienced loss and answering women's health questions. Meghan McCain, a co-host on ABC's "The View," opened up about her miscarriage, to help other women know they're not alone.
Meghan McCain isn't one to shy away from what she calls "third rail topics," but one personal experience in particular was especially difficult for her to discuss: her miscarriage.
In July, the "View" co-host wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, in which she revealed that she'd suffered a pregnancy loss a few weeks before.
Calling it "a horrendous experience," McCain wrote that she missed a few days of work in the aftermath and wanted to go public, in part, because she was concerned about the gossip that might surround her absences.
In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," McCain added that she had been shocked by how strong her reaction to the loss was, and wanted to share her experience to help others in similar situations.
"I don't want to be the face of death and miscarriage but I also feel like life throws things at you that are unexpected and you have to roll with the punches. And I would rather continue to open up dialogues and conversations," she said. "I just hope that women out there know that they aren't alone and they haven't done anything wrong. And that the pain is real and it's totally understandable."
McCain, 35, told "GMA" that before she got pregnant, she hadn't given much thought to motherhood. Explaining that she never felt "naturally maternal" or a "natural draw to motherhood," she was shocked by how sad she felt when she learned her pregnancy had ended. It didn't help that her job can make it "really hard to be childless and 35."
"I was very, very, very hard on myself. And I blamed the stress of my life and I blamed being older and I blamed my personality and I blamed things that were not rational," she said. "I, since then, have just tried to go a little easier on myself on all things having to do with motherhood and pregnancy-related, because it's not easy being a woman. It's just not. And I know how hard I was on myself and I'm sure a lot of women do the same thing. And you just feel really alone."
Although miscarriage remains a taboo topic of conversation -- who hasn't heard the age-old advice that a woman should not discuss her pregnancy before the second trimester? -- it's very common. According to the Mayo Clinic, between about 10% and 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. That number is likely much higher, however, as many miscarriages occur before a woman confirms she's expecting.
To cope with her loss, McCain turned to her husband of nearly two years, conservative pundit Ben Domenech, as well as her family and close friends. One constant sounding board was her best friend and "View" co-host, Abby Huntsman, who was expecting her twins Ruby and William at the time.
"I didn't think it was possible but it made us closer because she so supported me through all of it in a way that maybe would've been difficult for a pregnant person to watch," McCain said. "Juxtaposed, people might've thought it would've been difficult for me going through a miscarriage while she was pregnant but we really leaned on each other a lot because I think it's intense to give birth to twins too. And it's a very specific moment in time that was very, very hard for both of us that made us bond."
"I think oftentimes people tune into the show, they probably think that we're leading these perfect lives, and everything's wonderful," she added. "There's actually a lot of intensity in any human's life."
For McCain, many of those personal moments have been shockingly public. Last summer, her father, longtime United States Senator John McCain, died of brain cancer at the age of 81, almost exactly one year before her miscarriage. Calling those events "this very strange circle of life experience," McCain describes her pregnancy loss as "the inverse of losing my dad."
"My dad was like, the ending of a beautiful long-lived life and I grieve that and the way I grieved having a miscarriage, and grieved my daughter was what could have been," she explained. "It's hard. It's just really, really, really hard and I empathize with all women who have gone through it and who may go through it. It's just horrific. And it doesn't really get easier either."
"I still am worried that I, for whatever reason, maybe can't be pregnant and do my job at the same time, because I couldn't before," she continued. "There are all these questions that only women have to answer. Women have to make different choices and have different experiences across the board than men do."
Now, McCain wants to be there for others who have suffered losses. Her advice to them, as she moves forward: Give yourself a break.
"I think it's weird we're not having more conversations about how it's OK to be sad and it's OK to grieve this," she said. "Don't go hard on yourself no matter how you feel. Maybe you don't take it as hard as I do or maybe you don't feel the same way. Whatever you feel is totally fine and totally where you're supposed to be. And I wish I had heard that."