I think it’s really important to acknowledge before I begin that loss comes in many formats to each and everyone one of us. The same or similar event can have very different meanings and affect us in very different ways. Nobody has any right to tell you how you should feel or dictate what your loss means to you. Your journey through motherhood and loss is your own and belongs to no one else. You’re entitled to feel how you want to feel without guilt, shame or judgment. Life is a journey and everything that happens shapes us in to stronger, braver and more open minded beings. You are amazing for everything you have been through and for everything you continue to do!
Pregnancy loss awareness this week has been a heavy week of reflection for me. Being someone who has sadly lost pregnancies it hit home how common it is and how much we don’t openly talk about it. Why do we need a day or a week to acknowledge losses (as beautiful as it is to put that time aside for something so meaningful), why can’t this be everyday that we’re open about something that unfortunately happens to so many of us?
The general rule is that we don’t publicly talk about pregnancy in the first 3 months because it’s such a precarious time for parents to be. There’s always a worry that a pregnancy might not be 100% how we hoped it would be and that shouldn’t be advertised especially if it ends in loss. I know first hand how difficult it is to hide excitement during those first weeks, but I also know how hard it is to deal with loss and the guilt and shame that surrounds it. I know for some when they experience a traumatic event they want to keep this to themselves, they don’t want this publicised. It can be an incredibly challenging time, more so when you carry the guilt of a loss. Wanting and needing to heal privately is just as comforting as talking openly and healing with others. There is peace in solitude, a time to gather ones thoughts, time to heal, grieve and mourn a loss. But for some healing comes in the form of others reaching out, talking through our pain and feeling connected to people who won’t judge us for the sadness we are going through. But still it’s only deemed socially acceptable to break the news after the 12 week scan. I think there’s so much stigma attached to this and I feel at the moment whilst there’s positive movement around maternal mental health that this should be included. Why can’t we share our news beforehand, if that’s something we chose to do with the knowledge that nothing is promised and we may not know how we are going to feel if we do go through a loss?
Of course medically after 12 weeks the risk of pregnancy loss is reduced hugely but as I know it doesn’t mean 100% that you will bring your baby to full term. I lost my girl later on in pregnancy, and over the years I’ve met so many other women who have gone through similar losses. Even though, those pregnancies have been acknowledged and celebrated the loss is still as devastating if not more so as than in the early days because we’re not educated enough on these scenarios as much as we are on the first trimester (along with a myriad of other reasons). I have gone through losses that have been harrowing and still to this day make me sad, but being open and honest about my journey and losses is a part of a healing process for me and if it helps others then I find genuine peace in that.
What I have found is that being vulnerable can bring immense strength and growth to oneself. Going through loss isn’t something that anyone wants or asks for, it isn’t fair, it’s cruel but sadly it happens and will continue to happen. But what if we were open about pregnancy from the get go, for those who feel that’s OK for them to share? What if we are creating a community of support and love for those who sadly suffer loss? What if it’s OK to celebrate someone’s exciting journey and then embrace them when it ends prematurely without awkwardness or judgment? A loss isn’t an abnormality with that person and shouldn’t be treated as such. It shouldn’t be shamed that someone wants to share their news early. What is the difference in attending a funeral for a loved one and acknowledging the end of a pregnancy for someone we love? I really think we need to start embracing individuals decisions to share their news early if they choose to and celebrate with them. And equally create a safe and loving place for them to seek solace if the pregnancy doesn’t continue.
Loss is tremendously sad, it’s deeply isolating and it moves us to our very core. But this happens to so many of us and when I had gone through my losses I wish I had been able to speak about it without making other people feel uncomfortable. We should be able to talk about loss as openly as we talk about mental health these days. Stigma and shame won’t bring a loss back, but support and love might bring a bit of ourselves back to life. Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’s the way in which we change our thinking. Let’s embrace life and embrace supporting early loss. We all need support in all kind of different ways, so let’s be that support to those who need in whatever they crave it. Love should be at the centre of everything we do and everything we are. If that means going beyond our comfort zones and being there for someone who genuinely needs it, then go for it, all guns blazing. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how you come out of it the other end.