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.