Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Shame is yet another topic that I have been stewing over in my mind for quite awhile and that I'm going to try to put into words. Bear with me.

Through research I've done on infant loss, I've come across the statistic that 1 in 4 pregnancies end with a loss, either through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. 1 in 4. That is a staggering number and, quite frankly, shocked the hell out of me. 1 in 4. Think about that - 25% of the time a woman is pregnant it ends in a loss. Why have I never heard this statistic before? It's mind blowing to me that a huge portion of women out there have experienced this, yet we never hear anything about it. My guess is that shame has a lot to do with it.

As women, we spend our whole lives knowing that our bodies can produce babies. Many of us want to. We hear our biological clocks ticking and start feeling those motherly urges to bring a baby into this world. When we lose this baby that we worked so hard to create, we feel that our bodies have failed us. We feel that their is something wrong with us because we were not able to produce something that we are supposed to. And because of this failure, we feel dirty, we feel broken, we feel like less of a woman. We feel shameful so we don't talk about it.

The strange thing is, when you lose a baby, people start coming out of the woodwork and telling you about their own tales of loss. I can't even tell you how many stories I've heard in the last few months. I think this happens because when a woman experiences a loss, they feel more comfortable telling their story to someone who has gone through something similar because they know they won't judge them. They lose that sense of shame because they know the other person will understand. I know I feel like that. I hate running into people that don't know what happened but knew I was pregnant and they ask about the baby. I can't help but think that underneath their genuine sorrow for me, there is a smidge of judgement. That just for a moment, they are thinking that somehow I did something that caused this to happen, because whose baby dies? And even if they aren't thinking that, I'm still worrying about them thinking it. Hell, I still think it about that myself. I know that everything happened was out of my hands but I still feel that I failed at my responsibility as a woman and a mother.

And that leads me to my goal. I want to help get rid of the shame that surrounds pregnancy and infant loss. It's unnecessary and completely unhealthy, especially since 25% of women go through it. If all of us women who have lost a baby could speak out and not be ashamed of something we ultimately couldn't control, maybe some of the stigma could go away and make the loss a tiny bit easier for all of us. Because, unfortunately it happens. I am not the first to experience this and I am definitely not going to be the last.

So how do we go about this? I think the obvious answer is by talking about it. Perhaps loss statistics should be discussed in birthing classes, because it happens. Maybe OB's should have conversations about it with their patients, because it happens. Maybe everything shouldn't be so sugar coated when you're pregnant because bad shit does happen to good people. It might scare the shit out of some people and open their eyes a little to the fact that pregnancy does not always end positively but is that a bad thing? Our society is so focused on being happy all of the time and ignoring the bad stuff that can and does happen that it does a great disservice to us as a whole. Especially because 25% is a big number.


  1. I've lurked here for awhile because I read about your tragic loss on the July BBC birth board and I agree with you 100% on this Jamie. While I can't even pretend to understand what you've gone through and won't even try, I was absolutely shocked when I had my miscarriage with my first pregnancy. I just never knew it was even a possibility. I never thought that every pregnancy story didn't have a happy ending. I didn't understand why it happened, I was certain I did something to cause it, and I felt betrayed by my body. After my miscarriage, I talked to so many people who had had miscarriages or late term loss. People I never would have expected. People I talked to on a daily basis. I never knew. I agree, I think there is so much shame associated with pregnancy and infancy loss and THERE SHOULDN'T BE!!! I'm so sorry for your loss and I hope that you will continue to speak out. The world needs it.

  2. My heart aches for you, Jamie. I had two pregnancies involving still births. One set of twin daughters and one single daughter. Bellamie, Bethanie and Annica, Mommy will always love you and miss not having you with me.
    Keep writing Jamie. You are touching people and healing yourself. Love, Cinda

  3. Just want to say that this feeling of shame about your body failing you doesn't always just happen to women who have miscarried and/or lost a baby. It's the worse of the latter but not the only cause of the feeling.

    I had a terrible birth that resulted in my daughter needing help. She stopped turning and had to be extracted with forceps and an episiotomy after 20+ hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing, even though I had a perfect pregnancy. I was high off of something they gave me when she was born and did not bond with her for 8 weeks. I have felt and am still dealing with the feeling that I failed my daughter because my body failed and I could not give her the perfect entrance to the world that she deserved. She's alive and healthy, and I'm extremely thankful to that.


    No one's pain is more or less important than anyone else's. It may be different, but not less important or more/less painful than anyone else's. You kind of come off that way. I know you're healing still and I don't know how you feel and hopefully never will...but your pain is no more important than women whose babies are alive and healthy.

    That said, it's tragic that many people don't know that 25% of women lose babies. My mother, personally, had 9 miscarriages before having four children. She had terrible pregnancies, all of us were born early and sick. My aunt cannot have children. They are all different types of pain, but as I more or less important or painful.

    I'm so sorry for what you're going through, and I know exactly how you feel about your body. I wonder...will my body fail me again? Will my child die during birth this time? Will I always need help to have children? What is wrong with my body? Why did this happen to me?? Will my DD have delays or disabilities as the result of the forceps? Will her deformed ear cause her to be teased? What about the dent in her head? Will that ever go back to normal? It's all my fault type questions. Similar and different questions to what you have.

  4. It's a different pain Momma Rose. I am writing from the point of view of someone who has lost a child. That is the only way that I can write because that is what happened to me and what this blog is about. These are my thoughts about loss - not about pain in general.

  5. Jamie,

    I have read your blog from the beginning and ive cried many tears for you. I have lost 2 babies. A son and a daughter. I didnt meet them as I lost them early in pregnancy, I still hurt. Its been almost 7 years since I lost my first. Thank you for opening your life to us.

  6. Thank you all ladies. It does make me feel good that something good is coming out of all of this :)

  7. Something very good is coming out of you being honest with your feelings. You are putting a face and reality to infant loss. You are so incredibly brave for putting yourself out there. I am so thankful to have found your blog and become your friend.
    Momma Rose, you should be thanking your lucky stars all you have to worry about is a deformed ear. Our pain is no more or less important than anyones but please take a moment to imagine what life would be like if you daughter did not make it. Imagine not holding her, smelling that sweet scent, having a beautiful nursery set up for a baby that will come home. Your life would be completely different and so would your pain.
    Love you Jamie.

  8. I think any parent would take deformed ears,a dent in the head,difficult labor and 8 weeks of not bonding over burying their child at two months old (let alone any age). Just sayin....

  9. Your posts are powerful, Jamie, and I can relate. My loss happened later, when my son was a toddler, but I experienced some of the same hesitancy with some folks seemingly worried that if they spent time with or near me they might "catch something" from my grieving. Some of my concern was shame-based..."it happened on my watch," and, since he died of meningitis and a vaccine was newly available back then..."I could have/should have prevented his death," though that was an unfair self-assessment for many reasons. Complicating shame is our culture's death taboo.

    It is in any event true, now as it was twenty five years ago, that our culture doesn't prepare us well for deaths...whether our own or those of others. So just when we need it most, support can be harder than usual to come by as people often don't know what to say or do. Instead of having the courage to admit that and say "I don't know what to say, except I love you and I'm here," they often fade away until it seems we're doing better again.

    Yes, birthing classes and doctors should be savvy and courageous enough to provide those statistics and have real conversations in preparing women for the birthing experience. Perhaps when you are further down the path, you might be the right messenger to spark a movement that reaches the tipping point and changes a culture. The articulate expression of personal experience resonates loudly in heads and hearts!

  10. Very well said Ingrid. I completely agree. Thank you.

  11. MOMMY ROSE- Not having a "perfect labor" and an "imperfection" on your baby is not even comparable to losing a child. Any mother would prefer that over the death of a child. Yes, you needed assistance and found it difficult to bond with your baby for 8 weeks but both are very common and even expected by some mothers. I believe you are doing a complete injustice to Naya, Jamie and their family by comparing the two situations.

    Jamie- You, Naya and your family are always in my thoughts. I pray that one day you and your family can do some sort of healing that you can find comfort in. Naya has taught me a powerful lesson of love and how fragile life is. I never really thought about that until I came across your experience. What a powerful little girl you have. She has taught such a huge, life long lesson with such little time on this earth.

  12. I really think a big part of the problem is that many people have NO BOUNDARIES when it comes to other people and their soon as a couple gets married, everyone starts bugging them about having babies. If you choose to wait or not have kids, they judge you. If you only want one or two, they judge you. If you decide on a big family...well, you get the idea. I was only 24 when I got married and my husband and I decided we wanted to wait to have kids. It took my mom four years to get pregnant with me and my husband's mom had two difficult pregnancies--the second resulting in a sick little boy who died at four months (my husband was adopted a few years later)--so neither of our parents bugged us about having kids.

    When we FINALLY made the decision to go down that road, our first pregnancy ended in a fairly early miscarriage. Five years ago this weekend, in fact. One week later, we were at a neighborhood Christmas party and one woman sat down next to me and said, "So, are you EVER going to have kids?!" There was no way for her to know what had just happened, but that is EXACTLY why people need to shut the hell don't know who is trying and not getting pregnant, or who has suffered a loss, etc. It took us some time to get pregnant after that and it was very difficult to deal with people saying things to us about having babies. You are right, you never expect it to not work...I was under the assumption that no birth control = pregnant = baby nine months later, the end. Unfortunately, it's not always how it works.

    Since then, I have made a point of not hiding it. I don't just randomly bring up the fact that I had a miscarriage, but if we are talking about getting pregnant, babies, etc. and it comes up I mention it, because it is a part of our story and our lives. I don't expect people to know what to say, but it's funny how a lot of people look embarrassed for me, like I'm saying something dirty in public. I just say, "Unfortunately, it's something that happens" and move on. I'm hoping that by dealing with it so matter-of-factly, people won't be so afraid of hearing about it.

    I am definitely not trying to compare what I went through to what you are dealing with now, because although it was a painful time in my life, it does not hold a candle to your pain and I realize I'm lucky that's all I had to deal with. Thank you for sharing so much on your blog...praying every day that your heart will heal in time.


  13. My cousin died at 12 years, due to something that a) is preventable at birth, and b) hardly discussed by OBs. Strep-B. even though that was 25 years ago almost exactly, I am so happy that my uncle had the courage to share his thoughts on more than one occasion with me when I was pregnant with Olivia...-and my OB was surprised at how much I knew, and how I worried of these things. Really? Why wouldn't I?

    I cannot compare any situation that I have been through with yours, but know that we love and support you, how ever little we know you. I yearn for my first baby ever time December 19th comes along. I am not ashamed of my story, I like it when I share it with someone else and they are surprised by my miscarriage history and medical deficiencies (because in my case that is what causes it.) I just hold my baby that much closer and hope for more.

    When dealing with my loss, and the complications early on with Olivia, I was surprised at the European statistics compared to here. Makes me want to move next time I get pregnant.


  14. Ps:that says 12 years and should say 12 hours. : (

  15. I wasn't trying to make anyone feel bad. I am totally sympathetic to those who have lost and can't imagine what I'd do if I lost my daughter or any child. I hope I never have to.

    I was not trying to come off as preachy or that it was "comparable" because it's not, I was saying it's different pain but not more or less than others. I was just trying to show Jamie that people who have different issues and different types of pain can relate to her feelings about her body too, NOT just having lost a child. I did say in m post that I was sooo sooo thankful that my daughter is happy and healthy. But we will not know the long-term effects (if any) of the forceps on her brain til she is much older. I've been reading Jamie's blog for months now. I was NOT trying to compare Naya's death to my labor.

    Please, I did NOT mean to come off mean or disrespectful to Jamie, Naya, or her family. Just trying to share that others can relate to certain aspects though they have different types of pain.

  16. From my perspective, I think a lot of people probably can't even imagine what you are going through, and that if they do then they will break down. I know that is part of it for me, I always try to put myself in other people's shoes and it is really rough when it comes to something as gut wrenching as losing a child. I have cried for Naya and I haven't even met either of you. However, that is me. I think a lot of people put up a shield to try and skim over hard subjects like loss, just in order to avoid painful feelings.

  17. Sorry it took me so long to respond to all these but I just wanted to thank all of you ladies for sharing your powerful stories. We all have pain in our lives and it sucks that so much of it comes from one of the greatest things in the world - being or trying to be a mother. There are some very powerful words and each and everyone of these posts. You guys are awesome.