Something nobody talks about

Something nobody talks about  |  nextlifechapter.comThe American Pregnancy Association reports, “Women who are 35-45 yrs old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage.” That means that for a woman my age, up to one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet, for something that affects so many women, it seems like nobody talks about it.

Have you heard about this “new” podcast “The Longest Shortest Time”?

I think I first heard about it on This American Life. Those who know me well know I love This American Life. I try to see Ira Glass (the show’s host) in person any chance I get–I even saw him read stories during an experimental dance performance last year. And, for several semesters I’ve taught a memoir class where we use stories from the This American Life podcast to guide our discussions on truth telling, dialogue, interview, answering a question etc… (It’s part of the University of the Arts Continuing Education program and if anyone is interesting in taking this course or a future writing course with me, comment here or email me and I’ll add you to my special writing class email list.)

Anyway, I love This American Life. The TAL website used to include an essay by Hillary Frank about how to pitch them with a radio story. At least one semester I printed it and shared it with my class. A few years ago I learned that Hillary Frank had moved to Philadelphia, the city I was then (and still am) calling home. I even emailed Ms. Frank to see if she would be interested in being a guest speaker during my class. I didn’t figure she would say yes, but I didn’t think it would hurt to ask. (She politely declined.)

So, when I heard about Hillary Frank’s new podcast and when I heard it was about that short time that seems to go on forever when your baby is an infant, I thought it would be right up my alley.

Listening to recent episodes in the car on our Christmas road trip, I learned that Hillary had just finished a Kickstarter campaign (oops–totally missed it) and was turning the podcast into her job. As of January 2014, the LST podcast would have a new episode every two weeks.

A couple weekends ago, I finally got around to downloading the new 2014 episodes. For some reason, I started with the February 5 podcast titled “The Longest Longest Time.” In that episode, Hillary interviews Lisa, a woman who struggled with pregnancy for over a decade. I was washing dishes (as I tend to do when I listen to podcasts) when about half-way through the podcast Lisa said, “I have to say, until I had a miscarriage I don’t think I appreciated what miscarriage meant.”

Hillary followed-up by asking what, exactly, miscarriage means to her. I stopped mid-dish and listened to their conversation, which I’ve tried to transcribe below:

“…it feels like much more of a life-affecting moment or event than I had been able to perceive,” Lisa said with pause. “Do you relate to that at all?”

“Totally. And it’s something you can’t, or we don’t, talk about publicly so it’s not like mourning a death of a person that’s outside of you. You know, that we talk about and it’s understood that people are going to be distracted from work and all of that, but to have this big momentous loss from your body, that’s not something we talk about.”

“Right,” Lisa said. “And especially when it’s early like that, you know, 9 weeks. Nobody even knew you were pregnant.”

“And that’s why we don’t tell people, right? Cause just in case.”

“Exactly. Right. And then the flip side of that is nobody knows you went through it and not talking about it makes you think–you really shouldn’t be that upset by it.”

 

I stood there, greasy dish in hand with adrenaline pumping. “Exactly,” I said out loud. “We don’t talk about it.”

So, I’m here to start a conversation–to say, I had a miscarriage. In fact, I’ve had two miscarriages in the last seven months. It’s been tough. I’ve been distracted at work. I haven’t felt like myself emotionally or physically. I’ve been grieving.

As a memoir writer, I consider myself a truth teller. I want to share my story in hope that someone reading this can relate. The next few weeks I plan to post a series of miscarriage-related posts. This may seem depressing to some, and I understand that reading about such things is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, miscarriage is so very common. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Maybe you will in the future. I imagine many women you know have experienced it, whether you were aware of it or not. We don’t live in a bubble. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to share our stories.

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  1. Helen’s avatar

    I’m so sorry, Beth.

    I was thinking about this recently, and about the advice “not to tell people you’re pregnant — just in case.” While I would never suggest someone, say, announce it on Facebook, it’s certain that we encourage too much secrecy. If you would share your grief with someone, then they should be on your “tell” list. (And it’s true even when everything goes smoothly. I felt horrible in my first trimester, and the support and advice of friends probably would have helped a lot.)

    I know that hearing about my mother’s many miscarriages buoyed me from the worries that miscarriage meant I did something wrong. I am sure sharing your stories will help others remember they’re not alone.

    I hope you feel like yourself again soon.

    Reply

  2. Margot Prokop’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing this. I had three miscarriages in the process of having my 2 daughters, 1 before my first daughter and 2 before my second daughter. They were all different physically and emotionally.

    The first I think was the most devastating to me emotionally because I was not expecting it at all and we found out at the first ultrasound. It completely destroyed my view of pregnancy and turned an exciting experience into a devastating and anxiety riddled one.

    After my first miscarriage I only told a very select group of people about my pregnancy prior to the anatomy scan. I lived in fear that something would go wrong and it was easier for me not to tell people that I was pregnant. The second was devastating in a different way. After two, I thought that I was defective and that I would not be able to have another child.

    In five years I was pregnant five times, and had 2 successful pregnancies. It was an extremely difficult journey that I am glad to be done with. I think a lot of women want to just put it behind them and not talk about it because it is very painful. I find that openness makes me feel less alone.

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  3. Heather’s avatar

    Yes, that’s the biggest problem…we encourage women to keep it secret “just in case” but then no one know what we the person is going through…maybe that needs to change so we can be supportive.

    Reply

  4. Lindsey @ Sisterstosons.com’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing this! I know so many women who go through this, but want to keep it hush-hush… Looking forward to your series. I know this will be helpful and therapeutic for so many couples!

    Reply

  5. Megan’s avatar

    I’m so sorry for your loss….

    Reply

  6. Bridget’s avatar

    My sentiments exactly. You wrote it very well. :) *sigh*

    Reply

  7. Kellie’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing, it truly is something that is difficult to talk about and happens to more people than you think. It is so hard and even harder when you don’t have anyone to talk about it with {other than my husband}. It has been over a year and I now have by baby number two and can comfortably talk about the experience.

    Kellie

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  8. Jen’s avatar

    First, I am so sorry for your loss. I also want to thank you for posting this. It’s so true that miscarriages are something that is never talked about. Thank you for your authentic voice.

    Reply

  9. Gretchen Garrison’s avatar

    Sorry for your losses because that is what they are. I have not ever experienced a miscarriage. I am probably one of the ones that needs to read this to remember to be sensitive to those around me because you never know who might be grieving. With the loss of a baby, a Mom also loses a dream of what that life might have been someday.

    Reply

    1. nextlifechapter’s avatar

      Gretchen, I think that was the hardest part for me. You start imagining what your life will be like, and then you grieve that loss because it’s not going to end up the way you had imagined and hoped.

      Reply

    2. Risa’s avatar

      I never really know what to say to someone who has had a loss in their family and what do you say when someone loses one they never even got a chance to meet? It’s got to be so very difficult and so many women struggle with it every day.

      Reply

    3. Sara’s avatar

      I am so sorry. I appreciate and commend you on your honesty, and telling your story. It allows others to tell theirs, as well.

      Reply

    4. bolton carley’s avatar

      I’m sorry for your losses, and you’re right. People don’t talk about it much. I have multiple friends who have been through this and there’s not enough resources out there for this topic. Way to go on putting it out there. Tough topic, tough situation, and tough to recover from.

      Reply

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