It’s March 8 so women all over are celebrating International Women’s Day. And I woke up ANGRY at society because women are still hiding all they are facing to make everyone else comfortable. Let me be clear, I have never been pregnant. In the past two years I’ve had to come to terms with the likely fact I will never be a mom due to my choice of staying in a relationship that wasn’t reciprocated for far too long. And it sucks. I still grieve what I likely won’t have. I don’t talk about it because when I try people say “you can have a kid right now if you wanted” or “you don’t know what the future holds” or other things that trivialize what I see as my loss. So I don’t talk about it. And as I’ve been coming to terms with my own loss I’ve watched countless friends not get pregnant while trying or get pregnant and then not carry to full term and not have the baby they wanted. And I can’t imagine.
This week a good girlfriend called me and told me she is pregnant! Super excited for her. I knew her and her husband were trying. I could hear the edge of fear in her voice as she talked about her upcoming first ultrasound. And I said the totally insensitive “well, you know you can carry a full term pregnancy because you have your son so everything will be great!” As soon as I said it she changed topics to positive and avoided fear, because why wouldn’t she, I just shut her down. Before her healthy pregnancy she had a brutal loss. One that I didn’t know about until long after it was over and she was trying to recover. How does that not affect her now? How does that not make her concerned or worried or fearful now?
We as a culture don’t talk about miscarriages or pregnancy that doesn’t end with a baby. Why? Because it is super uncomfortable. And I think there is also fear that if we talk about it maybe it could happen to us. But it CAN happen to you. It can happen to anyone. Not having a full term pregnancy is extremely common. But shhh, don’t talk about. We don’t tell people we are pregnant until it is “safe” to. Safe for who? Surely not the lady who is excited and nervous and then she doesn’t have a baby and is now dealing with a devastating loss alone. We need to fix this as a culture and society. We as women need to say enough of this silence and to hold each other through the devastation. And to keep supporting long after, because grief can last a lifetime.
Another close friend had a traumatic miscarriage, needed a D & C, and then went into work directly after. She was just supposed to pretend that nothing happened. And she did. HOW SAD IS THAT!?!?! She just lost the chance at a child she wanted, had an invasive medical procedure, and is now sitting at her desk pretending nothing happened a few hours later. Shouldn’t she get a sick day? Or sick week? And maybe some trauma counseling? And this, this right here is why I woke up angry at society. We need to normalize pregnancy and all the risks. We need to listen to the fears of the women in our life and sit there through the discomfort of loss. We need to check in months and years after a loss and listen.
I challenge you this International Women’s Day to truly be a supporter of women and show compassion to someone you know who is struggling with a loss they don’t speak of. All of us know someone. But it is taboo to ask “how are you doing since your miscarriage?” “How are you doing since your abortion?” “How are you doing being pregnant right now after your previous difficulties?” “How are you doing during your in vitro?” and all the other super uncomfortable questions we don’t ask. We don’t ask because maybe they aren’t thinking about it and we don’t want to remind them. They remember. We need to ask them. We need to show compassion and care. Our sisterhood needs to extend to the uncomfortable to truly liberate women.
Me personally, today I’ll be calling back my friend. I’ll be acknowledging how insensitive my comment was and to ask her how she is feeling and what she needs. I’ll give her a safe space to talk about whatever she needs to talk about because I love her. And even though I know I won’t know what to say, I’ll keep trying to be compassionate and loving because that’s all I can do to help.