Before I started this blog –four years ago, I could count on one hand the number of women I knew who had experienced pregnancy loss. But since then, my interaction with many women and mums has given me insights into a topic that many people prefer to be hush about.
Perhaps understandably so, because in a culture that glorifies pregnancy, motherhood and parenting; where social media updates are filled with images of beautiful baby bumps, adorable newborn photos, images of weekend ‘tings’ with the kids, capped with gorgeous family portrait photos, it can be an emotional moment for women who have experienced pregnancy loss -perhaps even more painful for those who are yet to successfully carry a pregnancy to term.
I have interacted with women who prefer to speak privately about the matter, some hiding away in shame and embarrassment about it. I have also met women who have no qualms speaking openly about their experiences -some of which I have published on this blog and others in my newspaper articles. In the same breath are people who feel that the topic of miscarriage is a very personal affair, one that should be dealt with privately.
This varied feedback is what prompted me to ask readers the question: ‘Should Women Openly Talk about Miscarriages’? I wanted to know the extent to which people were for or against the issue. I asked this question via the ‘Polls’ section on the blog. These are the results:
“You are counted among the mothers in the world. You are a mother too,” my pastor whispered to me as she stood beside my hospital bed. She then hugged me and prayed for me. This was in November 2013 – the day after I lost my baby. I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time.”
Those are the words of one woman who has gone through pregnancy loss and who I have featured here a couple of times. Wanjiru Kihusa has gone through two miscarriages -one at five months and another in the first trimester. Wanjiru also authors her own blog here.
Here is more of what she wrote about her miscarriage experience.
“I am in a group of women who have experienced the cold hand of death through miscarriages. Women who mourn the children they never got to hold. I know about these women because I am one of them. To women who have gone through miscarriage, I know how you feel because I feel those things. I know how you sometimes feel lost and out of place among other mothers. I know how you have nothing to say when other mothers are swapping stories about their babies. I know how you are sometimes terrified of going for baby showers. I know how you sometimes feel like you have failed, how you sometimes question your womanhood. Trust me, I know.
I will tell the same thing my pastor told me that dull afternoon, “You are a mother too.” You are no less a mother than those who hug their children every day and wave to them as they go to school. You are a mother too and one day, your turn will come. You will get to hold your little adorable bundle of joy in your arms. You will swap stories about how important breastfeeding is. You will share their photos on Facebook and Instagram. You will look back and laugh at how you didn’t know where to start but you somehow managed to raise your kids. Hang in there, your turn will come. Keep trying.” Read more.
Wanjiru is on a mission to demystify the myths surrounding miscarriages and infertility. She wants to create a support network for women so that they can know they are not alone. She has created a forum for women who have faced miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss, reminding them that they are still mothers.
Wanjiru believes that in the same way we grieve the loss of a parent, friend or a child who was live-birthed, it needs to become just as normal and accepted for us to share and grieve communally for lost pregnancies. “Because the pain is just as real and lasting,” she says.
Join Wanjiru in the #StillaMum conversations on Facebook and on Twitter. Share this information you know with someone who has lost a baby -be they a man or a woman. Share it with a friend or relative who knows someone who has experienced pregnancy loss. Let’s help build a supportive community around the issue of miscarriage, where women will not have to suffer in silence, feeling ashamed or blaming themselves for pregnancy loss.
Thanks Maryanne and Wanjiru.I agree there are still mums and we need to walk with them.
Yes we do, Sly. We join Wanjiru in this noble initiative.
Great article Maryanne. Shared experience is an enormous comfort, even if you are raw with pain. It is a flicker of sunlight through the storm clouds, a little voice that says, “You’re in hell, girl. But you will recover. You are not alone”.
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