with Hannah Garland

  • Hannah Garland

The reality of miscarriage

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

I'm on a mission to destigmatize the discussion of miscarriage. I believe that shedding light on our pain and grief reduces our burden and increases a sense of community with people with similar circumstances. I hope to encourage you to share your miscarriage experiences and to have an open ear to the experiences of others.

When I got pregnant the first time, I feared miscarriage from the start. Though you’re not supposed to page Dr Google while pregnant, I Googled constantly. I checked the odds of miscarriage almost daily, questioning when my symptoms would change or suddenly dip. I knew that an estimated 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage but that many of these happen so early that women don’t notice them. So, when I saw a heartbeat at 7 weeks, my concerns eased. The baby would make it. He was past the most trying time.

At 10 weeks along, I had a routine ultrasound. The screen was facing away and the doctor was silent for a minute as she stared at it. I knew what she wasn’t saying. As she turned the screen toward me, she said, “I’m sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.” The baby had died a couple weeks earlier but I had never miscarried. My body continued to grow in pregnancy, carrying a child who wouldn’t survive.

In the days that followed, the doctor induced a miscarriage because my body wasn’t miscarrying properly. It was the worst physical experience of my life. It was like going through labor, without a baby to hold at the end. After 8 hours of erratic contractions, I left the ER shaking, weak, and unprepared to figure out how to be a person who had just had a miscarriage. There is no term or class to describe this person. It’s not quite post-partum. It’s not quite “grieving parent,” at least not by society’s standards.

You’re expected to go back to work, engage in real life, and not discuss it openly. It’s not exactly a water cooler conversation. Meanwhile, you’re on a roller coaster ride down from high pregnancy hormones and, if you’re like me, you may have a physical recovery as well.

I wanted to talk to someone about it but I didn’t know who. Based on statistics, I knew that it was highly likely some of my friends had had a miscarriage but, if they had, they were silent about it.

I needed to find allies and started to tell other women what I had been through. I firmly believe that sharing your pains gives them less power over you. This is the power of being vulnerable. Immediately, I discovered women who had also had miscarriages but were afraid to talk about them. As I unfolded my story, you could see the relief sweeping across their faces. Some had even felt ashamed that they miscarried, though it wasn’t their fault. We tend to feel shame when we think we are alone in our pain and grief.

I am on a mission to destigmatize the discussion of miscarriage. We are doing our women a grave disservice by not having an open forum on this very real, very common, and very painful event. If you miscarried, know that you are not alone. And if you know someone who miscarried, be active in asking how they’re doing, bringing them comforting things, and being a shoulder to lean on. Think of how much closer we could bring women in our culture if we were open about this event that bonds many of us.

Women, let’s be clear about a few miscarriage truths:

1. It is a death. It might be different than the death of a 2-year-old but it is a kind of death that causes a real grief. And the measure of grief can’t be limited by the duration of the pregnancy. If you have had a miscarriage, it is ok to grieve and you don’t need to hide the fact that you’re grieving.

2. It can be physically and emotional very distressing. Post-partum depression can be a result of the dramatic rise and fall of hormones post-partum. I bring this up as a means of comparison. When you miscarry, your hormones are doing wild things. You are often in your 1st trimester, when hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and HCG are rapidly rising. After a miscarriage, they fall off of a cliff and there is nothing there to catch you.

So, if you find yourself feeling low even weeks after you miscarry, don’t be surprised and don’t feel ashamed. Your body has just been through a lot and you need to have grace for it. Seek help and don’t hide your pain. Check out my podcast episode 1 on Being your own friend where I dive into this a little deeper.

3. When you share that you miscarried, people won’t blame you or think less of you. You might even find a woman who also miscarried but never shared. If you can be courageous enough to share, you might find that your burden becomes lighter.

Every time you shed light on something that grieves, pains, shames, or burdens you, you reduce the power it has over you. At almost 2 years past my miscarriage, I don’t weep anymore. It was a sad event that forever changed my life and shaped my perspective. But it doesn’t have power over me. I hope to pass this gift on to you. I hope that, as you read my story, you’ll feel encouraged share with people you trust, and that, together, you will find strength as well

Hi, there! I go deeper into topics in my podcasts. Each are about 20 minutes long and they drop weekly. Please check one out here!