There's no wrong way to talk about a miscarriage 6 months ago

There's no wrong way to talk about a miscarriage

"In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."

Meghan Markle is one of many women who have chosen to share their pain of pregnancy loss with the world.

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In an emotive piece for the New York Times entitled 'The Losses We Share', Meghan wrote that she was changing son Archie in July of this year when she felt a pain in her stomach.

"After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp," she said. "I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.

"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."

The piece is emotional; a record of pain and loneliness that is not only reserved to Meghan's loss but the losses the world has experienced this year. The death of George Floyd, the killing of Breonna Taylor, the countless losses attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The response to the piece has been largely empathetic. We know what it's like to have a miscarriage - and if we don't, we can only imagine the pain it must cause.

And still, there remains criticism. Criticism that a woman should not have announced that she lost her baby, that she should have kept it to herself, that she is only looking for attention.

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It is unsurprising that this kind of critique should follow people like Meghan - a woman who was accused of attention seeking when she spoke about mental health, when she spoke about the pressures of the press, when she and husband Harry made the decision to step back from their royal duties.

And now, she's accused of the same for speaking about her miscarriage, a traumatic loss that she so eloquently and openly detailed in her own words to help herself, but also to help others.

It is unsurprising, but it is disappointing.

This is not the first time that a member of the British royal family has experienced pregnancy loss - but it may be the first time that one has spoken of it so candidly.

For years, the family has been taught to be unfeeling and indifferent. Harry and Meghan's move to the States signalled a break from the rules and regulations of royal life. A move away from the exposure, but also the expectation - that no matter what happens you must not be vulnerable, you must not be weak.

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Or, in this case, you must not speak about the traumatic loss of a child.

This judgement is not just reserved for royals, but for all women. Present a grieving mother and she will receive sympathy. Present a grieving mother who does something you wouldn't do, and she is judged.

Earlier this year, Chrissy Teigan shared photos depicting her own pregnancy loss. Posting the images to her Instagram account, she detailed the loss of her unborn son Jack through images that were as raw as they were heartbreaking.

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Chrissy was sympathised with, but she was also questioned; for sharing a deeply personal and traumatic moment of her life with the entire world, for not doing what some other women would have done.

Later on in her own essay for Medium, she wrote that she "cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. How little I care that it’s something you wouldn’t have done.

"I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me."

There is no wrong way to talk about miscarriage, and there is no right way either. Some women speak while it's happening, and others wait years to find their voice.

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One in eight pregnancies will end in loss, with many more women miscarrying before they even know they are expecting. Miscarriage is common, but that does not mean that it should be disregarded, and that a woman's feelings should be dismissed because she has decided to speak.

"Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," Meghan wrote.

"In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.

"Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same.

"We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."

If you or someone you know has been affected by child loss you can find support and advice on Feileacain's website here.