The following post comes to us via Tracey Sands, a graduate student at Arizona State University’s West Campus studying communication as it relates to advocacy. Tracey believes dialogue is an act of love and strives to empower others to find and use their voice. She is an education outreach intern at Planned Parenthood Arizona.
It was a Monday. It was just like every other day. I went to work, ate lunch with my coworkers, went home, ran a few miles, watched a few episodes on Netflix (Parks and Recreation, of course), and went to bed all cozied up in my warm, winter-themed footie pajamas. It was just like every other day. And then it wasn’t. On Monday, January 13, 2015, I had a miscarriage.
At 11:30 p.m., I woke up screaming and in the fetal position. I was in so much pain, which came out of nowhere. I couldn’t process what was happening. I went to the bathroom to change my tampon and blood was everywhere. My gut already knew what I couldn’t let my mind or heart accept: I was having a miscarriage.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Let’s use this day to share our stories.
After coming to my senses, I went to the emergency department. I was brought into a room within five minutes of my arrival and was given an IV of morphine. The pain didn’t go away. It came, and it went. I was having contractions, yet my head and heart still did not want to accept the fact that I was (1) even pregnant and (2) having a miscarriage.
After experiencing what may have been the most excruciating physical pain of my life, the existential questions that scarred my mind afterward were of a different, much deeper type of pain. How ignorant am I not to know my own body enough to realize I was pregnant? How do I mourn the loss of my baby when I didn’t know I was pregnant? How do I mourn the loss of my baby when I didn’t even want one? Due to the intensity and confusion of the feelings surrounding my miscarriage, these distressing thoughts had nowhere to go, staying within the walls of my own experience, ultimately creating a vacuum of shame and guilt.
I relentlessly searched the internet to find some sort of explanation or reason for the meanings and feelings of grief attached to miscarrying. Unfortunately, what I learned only added to the ambiguity and frustration of my emotions. Why is it that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet I did not know of a single person who had gone through this before? It’s not because I didn’t know anyone — it’s because it’s just too hard to talk about pregnancy loss.
It took me more than two years to talk to others openly about my miscarriage. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I could no longer keep it to myself. I managed to write about it on a personal blog (turns out writing is almost, if not just, as therapeutic as talking about it) and shared it to social media. Within the hour multiple people contacted me to share their stories. These women had never been able to talk about their miscarriage before.
The common reason for withholding their story: Emotions, which alone can be hard to comprehend, let alone manage, are almost impossible to put into words.
“I had a miscarriage.”
“My baby is gone.”
A string of four simple words; intimately felt and inconceivable to say. For me, talking about the loss of a baby is almost as hard as losing the baby. But it’s also one of the best ways to heal a wound.
So who can you talk to? Where can you go to share your experience and emotions? The healing process is not “one size fits all.” The feelings associated with the loss, the time it takes to heal, and the supportive outlets are all different for everyone. Maybe an online, anonymous chat room is what you need? Maybe a friend, family member, or in-person support group? Maybe a medical professional or therapist? No matter what route you choose, you’re choosing YOU!
Below are a few safe online resources that support people through dialogue by sharing their experiences.
- All-Options Talkline is a place where all options, decisions, experiences, and feelings are welcomed and respected, at any point in your journey.
- March of Dimes’ Wall of Remembrance allows you to share your story, read the memorials, and honor the babies who are gone too soon.
- Break Your Silence believes you’re not the only person feeling the way you are, and on the other side of the screen is someone realizing they’re not alone either.
- SHARE’s Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Chat is online the first Tuesday of each month from 7-9 p.m. CST.
If you have experienced a miscarriage or loss of a baby, you were and are a parent. You should not diminish your sense of parenthood. Because in reality, what you experienced is the epitome of hardship as a parent: losing your baby.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I know you’re not just feeling the heartache today. Every day is a day of remembrance. I know that. Planned Parenthood knows that. And we see you surviving and thriving despite it all. Let’s use this day as a reason to share our stories. You never know who you may help or the difference you can make … even within yourself.
As always, for any of your health care needs, Planned Parenthood is here for you.