It’s almost three years since my first miscarriage. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year waiting for a video link. So I’m sharing it; because it’s written, and because I always intended to share it. For some reason I just haven’t got round to it until now.
Before Tall Boy was born I published a blog post about my experience of miscarriage. My motivation was to encourage more open conversation about miscarriage, which is still a subject too often swept under the carpet.
The response was emotional. Women shared their own stories of miscarriage and baby loss, many suffering more than I can imagine. I honestly do not know how they found the strength to keep trying and I will forever be in awe of them. I felt compelled to respond to every comment and struggled to find the words. I was worried about saying the wrong thing, but I maintain that saying something is better than saying nothing at all.
Challenging my beliefs
One response came out of the blue many months later and challenged me to stand behind my belief that talking about miscarriage is so important. BBC Radio 5 Live wanted me to take part in a film about my experience. How on earth would I speak on camera about something so personal, so emotional? In comparison, writing it down was easy.
The film was to focus on the support that my friend gave me when I miscarried, support that was so valuable because it was drawn from her own experience. We talked it through and agreed that we would take part, recognising the value that talking to each other had for us, and feeling that sharing even just a small part of that had potential to reach out to someone else going through the same.
Filming with the BBC
I didn’t allow myself to think too much about what filming would mean; Tall Boy was sufficient distraction. It wasn’t until I was walking through my local park, reflecting on our experiences, with a camera pointed at me that I realised that this was the first time my friend and I had spoken about our miscarriages face to face.
We’d talked on the phone, we’d sent each other messages, but we were living in different countries at the time. We were recalling our experiences in person and I couldn’t find the words, then my emotions took over.
After the initial shots we sat down on a bench together and just talked about what we’d been through. After that, speaking to the camera came more easily. Both of us had things we wanted to say.
I realised later that we made the film on the second anniversary of my first miscarriage, which somehow made it even more poignant.
We were never told exactly when the film would be shared, only that it would tie in with a Tommy’s campaign. Then one of the mums at a baby group asked me about it, having seen it on Facebook. I was caught off guard, I didn’t know how the film had been edited, which of our ‘sound bites’ had made the final cut, and here I was being drawn in to a conversation about it and she was telling me about her own miscarriage. By the end of the class I’d received a message from an old course friend, telling me how brave I’d been to make the film and sharing her story of fertility problems before she had her baby.
Sharing the film
Later that day I posted the film on Facebook. Despite writing about my experience nine months earlier my blog post had largely gone unnoticed amongst my friends and I hadn’t actively shared it with anyone I knew. I said in my original post that, “being open on the internet also means telling people much closer to us – and that seems so much harder.”
Sharing the film on Facebook was the hardest share of all. I rarely share anything on Facebook, let alone anything personal, yet everyone was going to know about our miscarriages. I felt like I was breaching Tall Dad’s, my friend’s, and her husband’s confidence. In the end, I decided I had to share the film myself, before anyone else saw it through other means, and because the point was to talk about it, to be open.
I was overwhelmed at the response. My friends were commenting about their own experiences of miscarriage, late miscarriage, molar pregnancy and infertility. If only we’d felt able to talk at the time, maybe we would all have felt less alone.
So, I wanted to write this post to take a moment to reflect.
As I said at the beginning, I hoped that talking openly about my experience would encourage others to do the same. You only have to read the comments on my original blog post and the comments in response to the BBC film to realise that talking about miscarriage does encourage more people to talk about miscarriage. It helps people who have gone through it to feel normal and raises awareness amongst people who have been lucky enough never to have given miscarriage a thought.
I often think that a lot of the taboo would be avoided if people announced their pregnancies sooner. We live in a world where we don’t even acknowledge that we are pregnant until after the 12 week scan so that we can make sure everything is ok. If you miscarry before 12 weeks the last thing you want to tell someone is that you were pregnant but you’re not any more, so you stay quiet.
That being said, I don’t think I would tell any more people about a future pregnancy before the 12 week scan than I did with any of my previous pregnancies. So, what then is the benefit of talking about my miscarriages? How does sharing my story now I have a healthy baby help anyone else who is still waiting for their happy ending?
At the end of this journey I don’t think the aim is for people to talk to anyone who will listen about their personal experiences of miscarriage. It’s about encouraging people to find support from someone they do feel comfortable talking to. It’s about breaking the taboo so people feel less alone in a very lonely place. But most of all, it’s about giving people hope.
One lady who commented on my original blog post said,
It’s stories like this that keep us ladies holding onto hope that have had miscarriages and still no baby.
and it’s not just mums, it’s dads as well.