I have these friends, ones that are open about their pregnancy losses and post it on social media. I cringe every time I read one. And scroll right on by. I'm terrible I know. I'm also mature enough to realize I have baggage on this issue, and somewhat level-headed enough to realize their vulnerability makes me horribly insecure about my own miscarriage that, despite happening many years ago, I still haven't dealt with. Clearly.
My husband and I planned all of our pregnancies. Except the first one. We got drunk one night on cheap wine and Neo-Citron and forgot the condom. A couple weeks later the double lines appeared on one of those overpriced pregnancy tests (I've since learned the dollar store ones work just as well) and we were ecstatic.
I don't think you can help but imagine things about your baby when you're pregnant. When you know they're there, growing and breathing inside you. Your entire body craves the preparation, and the planning. Everything in me wanted to run out and start an RRSP in our unborn child's name.
So when the bleeding began I didn't know what to do. Being so new to the Pregnancy Loss Club, I had no idea I was just a statistic, a set of protocols the doctors followed daily. So when I arrived at the office feeling panicked - I couldn't for the life of me understand why I was the only one with that emotion. Until it dawned on me - this happened all the time. So while their small shoulder rubs as I passed the last clot were nice and all, it was easy to tell they were following the cardinal rule of the PLC club: don't talk about pregnancy loss after it happens.
And that was it. No follow-up, no pamphlets on loss, no mention of it - nothing. Because I was a stat - especially being only 11 weeks - and they weren't being cold on purpose. They were just following the unspoken rules.
PLC club rules
1. Don't talk about PLC
2. Offer minimal support to avoid awkwardness
3. Don't screen for postpartum depression. The chances of being affected are slim anyway because they weren't that far along or didn't actually have a baby
4. Remind them that they are still young and can have plenty more children. Or remind them to be grateful for the children they already have
After my husband and I came home I had zero clue what to do. I had convinced myself that this wasn't a big deal. That I could easily move on. That is, of course, until my latte spilled all over the carpet and I lost it.
I began digging for every damn pregnancy test I had taken for this baby. I spent the afternoon figuring out ways to destroy each one in some random way. One I ran over with a car, another I garburated (sorry hunny!), another I hammered with a drywall hammer, and so on. Each time I allowed my anger to be front and center I felt more powerful, more in control - because losing this baby was something I didn't have any control over. I couldn't deal with that.
One would think in 2016 that pregnancy loss wouldn't be so secretive and so covered in shame, and yet it is. It's as if we have this perspective that being pregnant and creating life is a natural part of being a woman, and when you fail at that you've failed at life. Failed at being a parent before you even birth your child. Failed at being a woman. Our body has betrayed us. So while we wear bright pink Susan G Komen shirts and run marathons in support of breast cancer (which is awesome) - miscarriage and infant loss events seem to fall to the wayside. It's really only been in the last couple years that pregnancy and infant loss remembrance has become more prominent in our society.
So what do we do? Besides recognizing and seeking help for this guilt, we must begin to recognize that we aren't alone. Only then can the "don't talk about fight club" stigma disappear, and stories and support emerge. Let's shed light on the shame that comes with this tragedy and begin a conversation about it. Brené Brown, an expert researcher on shame, says the antidote to shame is acceptance, courage, and empathy. She says we need to "show up and be seen in our pain." So that means the playgroup and mommy night topics must shift from the latest parenting styles to being vulnerable and talking about our miscarriages.
Three kids and almost seven years late I still think about that unborn baby. And I'm realizing that's ok. That I can't buy into the shame that I did something wrong, or that I'm not a real woman. So I take a deep breath, gather up my courage and slowly type "me too, friend."