Notes
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Talking About Miscarriage
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Readers share their stories and perspective on the subject. You can do so at hello@theatlantic.com. Here’s some perspective from Holly Cave:

A recent survey of over 6,000 women who had had a miscarriage, conducted by the charity Tommy’s, found that around two-thirds found it hard to talk about. The same number felt that they couldn’t discuss their miscarriage with their best friend. A third didn’t feel that they could even talk to the father about it.

A missed miscarriage (also known as a “silent miscarriage” or a “missed abortion”) occurs when a fetus dies in utero but the woman’s body does not expel the tissue, often because the placenta is still releasing hormones and thus telling the body there’s still a pregnancy. As a result, bleeding, cramping, and other signs of distress will often not be present, and many women don’t discover they’ve miscarried until they have an ultrasound.

Below are three stories of women who experienced a missed miscarriage. The first:

Please do not use my name, but I would like to add my story to this series I’ve been enjoying so much. I had a pregnancy and miscarriage last fall that brought into focus just how fortunate I am to have access to needed medical care, and reminded me how onerous, humiliating, and hateful anti-choice legislation is for women with unwanted and wanted pregnancies.

I never expected to accidentally get pregnant at 40, but I did. My husband and I were happily but not decidedly child-free, and we had been been discussing whether or not we were content that way when suddenly the decision was no longer theoretical. I knew I was pregnant even before I missed my cycle, even before I tested. I stared dumbly, delightedly at the pee-stick for several minutes then threw it away, then dug it out of the trash, then threw it away again. What should I do? Does one keep these things?

When my husband came home from work I hugged him and told him my news into his neck. He squeezed me tighter. Really? He kissed me, hugged me again. Really?! Neither of us expected it, or expected to be so pleased about it.

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From another reader who was devastated by hers:

I recently had a miscarriage. One month and 19 days. I had no idea it was so common. Women I’ve told—and they are few—express that I can “try again,” that “medically at least you know that you can get pregnant,”  or “you work in the health care field, so you know loss happens.”

All anyone talks about are the positives of birth and parenting when you announce. Miscarriage caught me by total surprise.

It would have been my first pregnancy. I’m still dealing with it emotionally and physically. I may not be bleeding anymore, but my soul is ripped wide open. I had no idea I was so fragile. I don’t know if I want to try again.

This reader and his wife did:

She had a miscarriage in early 2010. We’d only just started trying. At the first ultrasound, they told us the embryo only looked three weeks old. The followup a week later confirmed the pregnancy hadn’t taken. The OB/GYN recommended letting it pass on its own and a few weeks later my wife went through a couple of days of heavy cramping and some bleeding.

Her period didn’t return. Three months later, we were getting ready to go out when I heard a scream from the bathroom.

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That’s the question this reader asked herself following many lost pregnancies:

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a mother. I don’t know why, but I just knew it was what I wanted. When my husband and I first started dating two weeks into the relationship, I found out I was pregnant. We were stupid, young, and used no protection. He was terrified, I was happy.

A month later I woke up covered in blood, and after being rushed to the hospital, we found out we lost it. I cried and cried, and we fought, and I was sure he would leave me. But he didn’t, and six months later I was pregnant again. This time he was happy at first and kissed my stomach. Then we got into a car accident and found out the baby didn’t survive.

I was numb. After two years, I had had five miscarriages.

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Several readers tell their story:

I miscarried many years ago at age 25. I wasn’t even aware I was pregnant, but I instantly understood something was very, very wrong. Fortunately, the physical pain subsided quickly, but the emotional distress took much longer to fade, especially in the absence of an explanation. Pregnancy loss is fairly common but no less devastating because of its frequency.

Another reader uses that same word:

I lost two babies en route to my daughter and it was emotionally devastating. It was hard to talk about, and the fertility clinic was totally inured to it. Even my mother was just like “try again, at least you know you can get pregnant,” which was true in hindsight.

A reader in Brooklyn felt her doctor was far too inured:

I had seven miscarriages in two years (during which time 9/11 happened and my mother died). Suffice to say I was a basket case.

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