Duchess Meghan has written a deeply personal and brave account of suffering a miscarriage.
Starting the piece with a description of a typical morning looking after son Archie, Meghan wrote, "After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right. I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."
The Duchess, 39, was taken to hospital, where she held on to Prince Harry’s hand. "I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears," she wrote. "Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal."
Describing it as "an almost unbearable grief experienced by many but talked about by few," Meghan said that despite the "staggering commonality of this pain," talking about miscarriage largely remains taboo. "Riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning," she said.
The Duchess took the difficult steps to share her story in the hope that others will feel less afraid to do the same. She also hopes that by encouraging others to listen, the load will be lightened for those who are grieving.
Looking back at when she was hospitalized in July, Meghan recalled the moment last September when the Sussexes were finishing their royal tour of Southern Africa. "I was exhausted," she wrote. "I was breastfeeding our infant son, and I was trying to keep a brave face in the very public eye."
And then British documentary-maker, Tom Bradby, asked if she was okay. "I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many—new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering," she explained. "My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself. 'Thank you for asking,' I said. 'Not many people have asked if I’m OK.'"
She continued, "Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'"
"Are we? This year has brought so many of us to our breaking points. Loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020, in moments both fraught and debilitating." She then goes on to describe how a woman lost her mother to coronavirus, how another man woke up feeling slightly ill and within weeks, he too had died.
Making references to Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who both lost their lives to police brutality and sparked a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, she continued, "Peaceful protests become violent. Health rapidly shifts to sickness. In places where there was once community, there is now division."
"On top of all of this, it seems we no longer agree on what is true," Meghan said. "We aren’t just fighting over our opinions of facts; we are polarized over whether the fact is, in fact, a fact. We are at odds over whether science is real. We are at odds over whether an election has been won or lost. We are at odds over the value of compromise."
"That polarizarion, coupled with the social isolation required to fight this pandemic, has left us feeling more alone than ever."
In the final moments of her editorial, the Duchess of Sussex described a moment in her late teens when she saw a woman on the phone in floods of tears on a sidewalk in New York City. She asked her taxi driver to stop but he told her—"Don’t worry, somebody on that corner will ask her if she’s OK."
"Now, all these years later, in isolation and lockdown, grieving the loss of a child, the loss of my country’s shared belief in what’s true, I think of that woman in New York," she wrote. "What if no one stopped? What if no one saw her suffering? What if no one helped? ... I wish I could go back and ask my cabdriver to pull over. This, I realize, is the danger of siloed living—where moments sad, scary or sacrosanct are all lived out alone. There is no one stopping to ask, 'Are you OK?'"
She continued, "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few. In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."
"Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same," the Duchess of Sussex explained. "We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter—for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."
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