- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Hilaria Baldwin, author, yoga instructor, and cohost of the Mom Brain podcast, suffered two miscarriages last year—one around 10 weeks and the other at four months. Throughout both, Baldwin was radically open about her experience, sharing her losses in real time and inviting the women in her 700,000-strong Instagram community to share their stories too.
In a Glamour exclusive, Baldwin opens up about the experience of hearing thousands of women’s miscarriage stories, the common threads of shame, and the power of speaking out.
Last April, I had a miscarriage at around 10 weeks. I have had a couple of chemical pregnancies in the past, but this was my first miscarriage after hearing a heartbeat. The first time my husband, Alec, and I heard that baby’s heartbeat, it was weak and became weaker and weaker with each ultrasound. Eventually it stopped. I knew that the weak heartbeat was not a good sign, but I was still incredibly sad when, at that final ultrasound, the heartbeat went silent.
Some estimates say one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. I had four babies and now a loss—I was the perfect statistic. We tried again and I got pregnant a few months later. We found out the baby was a girl, a little sister for our six-year-old daughter, Carmen. I was so excited to be a mom again.
In contrast to my spring pregnancy, this baby had a strong heartbeat. We were excitedly making plans—Carmen was setting aside her old clothes, and Alec and I dreamed about what it would be like to have a girl again after so many boys.
At four months (16 weeks), I went in for my regularly scheduled scan. As soon as the sonogram image appeared on the screen, I saw that my baby had died. There was no movement, no heartbeat. She was crumpled up, lifeless in my womb.
I began to cry. The doctor told me to hold still as she tried to figure out what had happened. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I can’t remember much except that I got dressed, thanked everyone for their care, and asked for permission to go. I just began walking. I got in a cab at some point, making calls, scheduling a follow-up D&E, and canceling work accordingly. I felt like I was in shock. I went into this appointment excited to see her and share pictures with my family and friends; I left needing to tell them all that she had died. It was a surreal turn of events.
Even though I’d had a miscarriage before, I don’t think I could have fathomed how bad it could feel to have a miscarriage at 16 weeks. I had to go home and sleep with my dead baby inside me. I felt sick, sour in my belly, and so devastated. I kept waking up and thinking it must have all been a very vivid bad dream. I cried so much that my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I didn’t know the body could make so many tears. This was a pain that I had never experienced before, and it felt suffocating.
Throughout the anxiety and excitement of early pregnancy, and throughout the pain and confusion of miscarriage, we’re taught to be quiet, to stay silent.
During this pain, I knew that I needed to feel better. I needed to heal. I had to—for my babies, my husband, my loved ones, and myself.
When you feel so sad, you just want to crumble, and it is hard to be your own advocate—but you must be. I had to tell myself that I deserved to heal and to be happy again. This lesson became my mantra. Processing and going through grieving was important, but I didn’t have to be condemned to a life of emotional punishment and suffering.
As a woman, in charge of housing and growing a baby, it’s easy to feel guilty—as if you did something wrong to cause the miscarriage, no matter how many doctors tell you that’s not the case. Sometimes it’s easier to make ourselves the enemy, to blame ourselves, than it is to accept support and care.
To take care of myself, the first thing I felt I needed was to accept that this was real. For me, that meant sharing something that still feels so taboo. Throughout the anxiety and excitement of early pregnancy, and throughout the pain and confusion of miscarriage, we’re taught to be quiet, to stay silent, to fear words like infertile and barren and the stigmas they carry. It’s 2020—why can’t we leave those fears in the past? As I spoke about following my previous miscarriage, going through something as devastating as losing a baby in silence and having to pretend that we are okay when we just can’t be can be debilitating. It adds trauma on top of trauma. Reaching out to a support system is vital to our mental health and well-being.
Women bear a lot in silence when it comes to motherhood.
After my miscarriage I reached out to my community on Instagram and asked women whether they felt pressure to be silent throughout their fertility struggles. I heard from thousands of women, all of whom just wanted a chance to share their stories. There were women who had never told their husbands, afraid they’d be labeled as infertile. Women who couldn’t stand to be around friends having babies. Women who survived sexual assault only to face the complicated grief of losing a pregnancy born from trauma. Women who felt society would blame them for choosing to prioritize a career over a family—for missing their peak fertility years or for putting too much stress on their body. Women who didn’t know how to tell their families, afraid of being a disappointment. The list goes on, but the common thread is that women bear a lot in silence when it comes to motherhood.
We are a group that has been taught to be closed, and I have decided that I don’t want to be. In opening up, not only do I want to heal myself through sharing my story, but I also want to show others that there is another path—one of openness. When you let reality in, it can be difficult to swallow, but once you do, you have something tangible to work with. Even when it is so painful and you feel like you have hit the bottom of the ocean, you can touch it, feel it, and then press off it to propel you back up into more shallow waters. Sharing not only let me come to terms with what was real, but it also allowed me to connect with such healing support from so many women wanting to talk about their own miscarriages. We processed our losses together, realized we are not alone, and put this whole experience in the context of a life that is not always benevolent.
This is your journey, your baby—you are the mother. You are the one suffering, so you get to make the rules. Ask yourself how you need to process. Maybe it’s very publicly, as I’ve chosen to do, or maybe it’s in a much more private way. Both are valid. However you process, do it with no shame and remember that you are not alone.
Originally Appeared on Glamour