Sometimes the hardest topics to write about (or talk about) are the most important ones. I have always written openly about my history of pregnancy loss–several miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy– and I think it’s been both cathartic for me and helpful to others who have shared similar struggles. When I write about it, I can still remember how complicated and painful those experiences were for me, but I no longer feel a visceral sting. Perhaps sharing has helped take some of that pain away; and of course, getting pregnant again and having my two girls after the losses was a critical part of the healing process.
Someone thanked me recently for sharing my own stories of pregnancy loss through my writing, as she had just experienced a loss and it made her feel less alone. I hadn’t written about my pregnancy struggles in a while and it was a powerful reminder for me just how important it is to talk about this stuff. When we share our own experience with pregnancy loss, we help to de-stigmatize miscarriage and remind women that they don’t have to suffer alone, that they aren’t alone.
I am so honored to have an essay published on the new online magazine, Motherwell Magazine, today. I started writing this piece well over a year ago, and it has been interesting to reflect on what that period of time was like for me. Even five years later, I still remember the sense of shame, inadequacy, and resentment that flooded me. It was that feeling of failure that perhaps stung the most, which surprised me.
Losing a pregnancy can be devastating, and I think the loss is compounded by the fact that fertility has become almost a competitive sport. Symptomatic perhaps, of the larger problem, which is how competitive motherhood has become.
I don’t have all the answers as to how to make motherhood–and fertility–less competitive and adversarial, except that I know sharing honestly and openly and supporting one another is key. Here’s an excerpt from my piece on Motherwell:
How many times have you been pregnant?
Swallowing hard, I write the number six and set the clipboard down on the waiting room chair. By all accounts the form is a benign one, but for me that seemingly simple question was anything but. I take a deep breath and move on to the inevitable next question.
How many live births have you had?
Two, I write.
The discrepancy in these numbers will always be part of my complex reproductive history. Along with three extremely early miscarriages (technically categorized as “chemical pregnancies”) and one bewildering ectopic pregnancy, I carry bitterness, anxiety, and shame embedded in my memories of conception and pregnancy.
Even though we had only been trying to get pregnant for a few months, I had begrudgingly become a “TTC” nerd. That’s “trying to conceive” for all of you “we’re not trying, but we’re not not trying!” folks. Against my better judgment, I succumbed to the gung-ho, Type A method of conception, which involved a basal thermometer, unsavory daily explorations of my cervical fluids (I’ll never hear the term “egg whites” the same way, as long as I live), an app that deemed itself my “Friend,” and obsessive participation in message boards dotted with abbreviations that read like Martian to the uninitiated.
I hope you’ll stop by and read the full piece on Motherwell here.
**I am so excited about the next HerStories Project online writing course– Create, Connect, Reflect. If you have a school-age or tween child and you’d like to help them find a love of creative writing, polish up their skills, connect with them in a creative way, and give yourself some space for expression and reflection, this is the course for you! There is no set schedule, the class is completely self-paced and just in time for the last month or so of summer before school starts! Get details here! I hope you’ll join me AND my almost-5th-grader! (Psst– I have a special $50 off offer for my email subscribers– sign up for the class with the $50 discount here!)
Thanks for sharing Stephanie. I remember all too well my recent well visit where I stated that I had been pregnant 5 times and had 2 living children. Surreal to say the least.
It’s funny how we take some things for granted. My neighbor told me the other day that she’s been pregnant 4 times. She only has one child, a girl born at 28 weeks. She desperately wants another child but they are scared to try.
I am 37 weeks pregnant and I did not know what to say to her. I can’t even begin to think what she has gone through.