By Aela Mass, for Babble.com
Image courtesy of Thinkstock
As a woman who has struggled with getting and staying pregnant for over three and a half years now — and who has shared all of it from the get-go — I’ve met many women along the way who have suffered in silence. While I’m a huge advocate of talking about miscarriage with someone, anyone, not every woman is comfortable speaking publicly about their loss.
Many say there’s a looming silence because of the shame associated with miscarriage. I think that is partly true. Sure, many women might feel shame because it’s not something we’re always talking about. Or because it’s hard not to feel like your body failed you. But, just like every pregnancy is different, so is every miscarriage — and so is every woman’s reaction to her own miscarriage.
I’ve chosen to speak about my losses. But even if I hadn’t picked this path, I still wouldn’t feel ashamed of my miscarriages. There are numerous reasons why women don’t speak about their loss, and I don’t believe those reasons are always rooted in shame.
Typically, and especially in the age of social media, we talk/share/focus on the joyous events in our lives: promotions, weddings, vacations, birthdays, milestones, etc. We want to share what makes us happy, we don’t want to share sad and tragic news — especially when that news so often catapults you into a sea of sympathetic “I’m sorries.” Maybe the fact that we don’t want to discuss such things is more reason why we should discuss them. Maybe there’s a deep-rooted societal norm that forces women into feeling like we’re responsible for making others feel good and shouldn’t share things that would make the masses uncomfortable (because, let’s face it, no one knows how to respond to the news of a miscarriage).
Or maybe some women are just private. Why can’t that be reason enough?
I’ve been labeled a loud mouth since the earliest years of my life, so it’s no surprise to myself or anyone that knows me personally that I share my experience. My wife is an outgoing person, but she chose not to share her miscarriage with many people in her life — and that’s totally okay.
But I think of the meek, shy girl I’ve known since grade school who barely spoke a peep — ever — the one who messaged me that she’s miscarried five times and couldn’t bear to speak to anyone in her immediate circle about it. I can’t imagine the effort it took her to message me. She’s not ashamed of her miscarriage. She’s simply an introverted person.
Like I said, I’m a huge advocate of women speaking to someone about loss (a trusted friend, a counselor, an aunt, heck, even an online discussion board). But I think it’s important to realize that not every woman wants to share it Mark-Zuckerburg style. And we don’t all need to share it with a wider audience. We don’t all need to come out as miscarriage survivors. And that’s okay.
Just like breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, vaginal vs. c-section, how and when and with whom we choose to share our stories of miscarriage are all personal decisions and will vary depending on what works for you.
With this big push to share, share, share, we need to be careful not to make women feel ashamed for not sharing their stories.
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