A few weeks ago, I read an article in which Meghan McCain talks openly about her recent miscarriage experience.
I heard this well-known woman bravely speak the unspoken words of so many others:
“I’ve had a miscarriage. It’s devastating. I can’t bear to talk about it, but it is eating me up inside. I am smiling and pretending to be okay, but I am SO NOT OKAY. What could I have done differently to save my baby? How was this my fault? How will I get through this?”
My heart went out to her, for her grief and for her courage. She talked frankly about having to do a photo shoot for her show “The View” while she was miscarrying, forcing herself to be cheerful and pretend everything was okay.
While reading, I felt the agony of the experience that I’ve witnessed so many times in my practice: Countless women have to go to work, to the grocery store, to their child’s daycare pick-up and pretend to be okay after a miscarriage. Countless women have cried themselves to sleep only to go to their corporate jobs in the morning and say nothing about what is happening. Some women start miscarrying at work, and have to make excuses for their sudden distressed departure, and subsequent absence.
It is heartbreaking. More so because it’s more common than you know.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. If you do the math, chances are very good that several women you know have had this experience at least once. Look around. They will be the ones working hard on projects to distract themselves, but with the tell-tale dark circles under their eyes. They will be the ones who have a few extra doctor’s appointments, and might leave a bit early from work for a week or two. They will be the ones who are so strong that you will never know what is happening for them.
Women are strong. We can hold all of this grief AND take care of everyone and everything. And it takes a lot of guts for women to talk openly about their miscarriage. When we do, we often get well-meaning but misguided suggestions or comments that end up being so inadvertently painful that we clam up again.
“At least it was early.” “Well, try again, don’t worry so much, you’ll be fine.” “It’s not like you lost a real baby.” “My friend lost a pregnancy much later than that – that’s so much worse.” “Why don’t you just relax? Then you’ll have a baby.”
Of course it’s hard to know what to say in the face of tragedy. There truly are no words. Miscarriage is as devastating a loss as any other, and yet it has no support group, no bereavement leave, and no community. There is often no face to the deceased and certainly no ritual to support the bereaved or to mark the passing.
Miscarrying women are often isolated in their grief, shocked and ashamed and afraid to talk about it. It is so personal. So full of tenderness, fragility and often shame. There are few places that feel safe and supportive. And so many hazards – so many pregnant women and babies out in the world that leaving the house can feel like walking through landmines aimed at right at your heart.
In my clinic, I have made it my mission to create a safe place for women to come during and after a miscarriage.
If you’ve miscarried, Portland Acupuncture Studio is dedicated to people like you. I understand how painful it is to miscarry. I know how many of your friends or family members have let you down. I know how hard it is to pretend to be okay at work and at the gym.
Here you don’t have to pretend. I can help you heal – in both your body and your heart. It’s true that most women can’t imagine talking to strangers about their miscarriage, but I will remind you that there are others out there walking by your side silently, and that, in time, you too can heal and to go on to have a healthy pregnancy and a beautiful baby.
And when someone like Meghan McCain or Michelle Obama is brave enough to tell the world “I had a miscarriage, and it was so hard, but I got through it, and you can too,” I wish I could give them a big hug for bravely sharing their story with us, and making it normal.
Not okay, but normal. Miscarriage happens. Women need more support around it. We can start to talk to each other more. You can reach out for support. My office is a place to start where you will be heard and safe and cared for. Come share your story and see how we can help you.
Until then, I am sending you a big hug too.
-Lisa Tongel, LAc