#FuckLoss: Removing the negative stigma that veils pregnancy loss

Children of all ages wear bracelets displaying, “I (heart) boobies!”, #fuckcancer and #savethetatas messages take over social media, and men wearing “Save Second Base” shirts is a normal sighting during the month of October. But, there was a time when those sights were considered lewd or vulgar. Openly talking about breasts was considered taboo. The whispers, “can you believe she’s wearing a shirt that says her boobs are fake because the real ones tried to kill her?”, gasp! Those shocking gasps, however, continue today surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, which shares its awareness month with Breast Cancer.  That negative stigma women feel when they first experience the loss hangs over their heads like a dark rain cloud. That sense of feeling alone, ashamed and at fault are hard to shake.

It wasn’t until last year when I was affected by that loss, until I became a 1 in 4 statistic that the awareness month caught my attention. Much like when breast cancer awareness month began, Pregnancy and Infant Loss month exists to remove the stigma that comes along with miscarriage and other losses. It’s about bringing the reality of living with this loss to the forefront of the discussion and removing the things that we do as a society that isolate the women who are affected by it.  While there’s no amount of awareness about the issue that can take away the grief that we live with every single day, there is a way to change the conversation.

Stop shaming women

Not every woman wants to have a child. Stop asking the insensitive questions like, “do you want kids” and “when are you having kids”. Stop making us feel like having children is the natural progression in our lives. Parents, this includes you. Stop it with the never ending pressures you put on your children after they get married about when they’re going to give you a grandchild.

It’s no wonder women feel a sense of shame after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Society has tied our purpose in life with a desire and ability to have a child. We feel like we’re going against the grain if we can’t deliver a healthy baby.  We feel like we’ve failed as women and we carry that feeling of failure with us every single day.  We blame ourselves and we feel like we don’t fit in.

So, please, just stop with those questions. Remove them from the discussion.  They are not innocent questions.  They’re intrusive and they create a culture of expectation that’s impossible for many to live up to.

For those of you that continue to be pestered with those questions, remember this, your worth is not defined by your ability to carry a pregnancy to full term or bring a child into this world. You are worthy and loved by God and child bearing doesn’t define you.

Find ways to help honor the losses 

Ronald Reagan said it best back in 1988 when he declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

Help those experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss honor the life lost. While there might not be memories to think back on or pictures to remind you of that life, there are ways to remember. Some things that people did that helped us honor our babies – a butterfly bush, an angel wing necklace with the babies birthstones, prayed with us, brought by dinner, gave me time off from work. There may not be a funeral to attend but helping the parents feel like the life they lost mattered goes a long way.

Companies need to provide bereavement leave for miscarriage. It’s provided for losses of grandparents and parents and children, but not for miscarriage. That sends a message that you don’t recognize the loss as real.  Businesses will have a better employee return to work if you give them time off to grieve and find a new normal.

Share your pregnancy news when you’re ready and the way you want

If and when you are pregnant, don’t let our culture set the timeline or shape the story. Want to share a picture of the pregnancy stick the minute it shows a positive? Want to keep it private until you find out the gender? Not interested in making an official post on Facebook?  You do you. It’s not a requirement to wait until the 12th week to announce your pregnancy. You also don’t have to feel guilty about keeping it secret for as long as you want. This is your journey, your story to tell. Tell it your way, not society’s way.

Together, we can change the way our culture views motherhood, pregnancy and loss. Let’s make a difference!

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Day 14: Vulnerable

After two weeks of soul-searching, uncontrollable tears, rage, nonstop prayers and a host of millions of emotions it was time, time to share our story. Today I hit the publish button on my first blog post and shared our story on Facebook for the entire world to see. I felt incredibly vulnerable in that moment. As soon as I saw the little orange notification on WordPress signifying the post was live, I stepped away to make another cup of coffee. In that moment while the Keurig made its whirring sound and I waited for my breakfast blend, I questioned myself. Had I done the right thing? What would people think? Would friends or family who didn’t hear the story from me directly be upset? Was I in danger of work colleagues walking on eggshells around me now? Maybe this was a bad idea. I needed a walk. Continue reading “Day 14: Vulnerable”

Day 11: Normal

I woke up this morning feeling normal. I didn’t cry, which I’m pretty sure is the first time that has happened since my miscarriage. I wasn’t sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop or waiting for things to take a turn for the worse. I honestly felt calm, collected and like an actual human being.

At first this worried me.   Continue reading “Day 11: Normal”

One Word for 365 Days

52-weeks ago I shared my intention for 2016 by posting the below on Instagram.  Instead of making a New Year’s resolution, I adopted a word to guide my year. I chose the word balance for 2016 because I tended to be the type of person who had tunnel vision. If I was going to be a good wife, I thought I had to focus on that 100%. If I was going to have a successful career, I felt that I needed to work 85-hours a week. I was wavering on whether or not I wanted to be a mom because I had no idea how to do that. I had a hard time balancing all of the things that were important in my life, so I forced myself to figure that out. If I was grading myself for my performance in 2016, I earned a solid B.

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2016 was a hell of a year. It’s a year that rocked me to my core. But in the end it deepened my friendships, strengthened my marriage and solidified my faith.

Continue reading “One Word for 365 Days”

The Silent Struggle

img_1026I’m sharing my story because when I experienced this heartache my first emotion was a sense of feeling empty and very alone.  I never anticipated things turning out this way and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I experienced what is medically referred to as a “missed miscarriage” or a “silent miscarriage” during the 11th week of my pregnancy.  It means that the baby passed before I had any symptoms of a miscarriage.

I’m not sharing my story for sympathy or to hear words that should make me feel better.  I want other people in similar situations to have a place to turn without having to feel gun-shy or worried about bringing up their story.  This wasn’t anything to be ashamed of and neither were my feelings. Continue reading “The Silent Struggle”