About 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most experts agree that the number is probably higher (perhaps up to 40%) because many occur before women know they're pregnant. Every pregnant couple knows they're not supposed to share the news until the first trimester is over.
During my first pregnancy I was worried all the time. Every four weeks I would dread the doctor visit, holding my breath until the heartbeat came out loud and clear. It wasn't until the baby was kicking regularly that I could relax, day to day, knowing that if he was still kicking, he was okay.
During my second pregnancy, I told people once I found out. I didn't want it to be like the first, when I was worried and paranoid the whole time. I didn't want to lie or circumvent direct questions (people were always asking about whether we were planning #2). And I wanted my close friends and family to share in the happy news. Why should a whole third of my pregnancy be relegated to a secret?
But most of all, I felt strongly that friends and family should know if a miscarriage had happened. It's a big loss, and it shouldn't be kept from people who care. People should know that it happens a lot. Women should get the support they need. It all shouldn't happen in the dark.
At 7 weeks, before my first appointment, I started spotting.
I went in to see the doctor that day. There was nothing on the screen. A water sac. No baby. The doctor sent me to get some blood work, saying that perhaps I had miscalculated my weeks (I knew I didn't), or that sometimes you just don't see the baby until a little later. I also scheduled a time to come in a week later.
A week later it was confirmed. I had a miscarriage.
Before I had one, I actually thought that I wouldn't be so upset by it. After all, there's a 1 in 5 chance (at least). And it happens (usually) early. It's all very scientific and logical. Sometimes the pregnancy just isn't healthy to begin with. What's the big deal?
Turns out it's a big deal. I was devastated.
And that's why we need to share. It's a big deal. And it's not all emotional. Our bodies have to go through the process of getting rid of all the stuff. This involves a birth-like process, where we go into mini-labor, with pain and blood (lots of both). Or we could opt for a procedure, which involves going to the hospital and getting knocked out for a few hours. And that's not a painless recovery either, not to mention the monetary cost.
I'm not advocating that announcements be made on Facebook or every distant aunt/uncle be called once the pregnancy has been confirmed. It was difficult for me to go down the list of people who knew and tell them the news. It was also difficult for me to handle some of the reactions. Some really had no clue how awful it was for me. I regretted having told them, but in principle I'm glad that I shared. Because in the end, this information is helpful.
If any of my friends or their friends go through this, I want them to reach out to me so I can provide support. There's nothing like another women who has been through it being there for one who is going through it (something I could have used myself). I found this out when I was struggling with all the emotions and challenges of being a new mother. Now, I make sure any new mother I know, knows that I am available at any time to answer questions or offer support. This is how readily women going through a miscarriage should also receive support.
Share. Don't feel ashamed. Don't suffer alone and keep friends in the dark. They deserve to know. We deserve to be supported.