This episode was a both a challenge and a pleasure to record. Emma, as my old boss but now good friend, has always come across as an older soul, and her measuredness and care when choosing her words is clearly reflective of her education but also natural personality type of being so thoughtful, considered and almost academic in her answers at times. For something so emotional and heartbreaking as recurrent miscarriage, she is a role model of openness and frankness about something that affects 1 in 4 women, but in her case of recurrent miscarriage, less than 1 in 100.
When Emma first told me about what had been going on for her, I wasn’t married yet, wasn’t thinking about babies, and really struggled to contextualise what she’d been going through. I knew miscarriage was common. I knew it was sad. But I found it really difficult to picture or imagine what that would feel like or be like for the person going through it. I remember being shocked and feeling privileged that she was sharing something ‘so personal’, but now I realise that yes indeed, miscarriage is personal, but it doesn’t make it shameful or secretive, and the same goes for all fertility treatments that affect so many of our lives as women, and the partners holding our hands throughout. The female body, and reproduction in general, is complex. It can be sad, frustrating, baffling and also miraculous and magical, all at once. With a statistic like 1 in 4, the overwhelming odds are that whether you as a listener are male or female, you will know at least one woman close to you who’s had a miscarriage or baby loss, and the chances are you know at least several more who simply haven’t told you, or have suffered in silence.
However shocked I was that Emma had told me about her story at the time, it paved the way for when my own early loss happened a couple of years later, where she was the first person I messaged, and when I got pregnant again with my son, the person I texted most days just to get through the extreme anxiety of a pregnancy after a loss. As I shared, people I never knew had suffered started to share their own stories. It also made me question the silence and stigma that surrounds baby loss, and the blame that still occurs as people try to ‘explain’ what happened to these women.
Tommy’s, an incredible charity funding pioneering research to identify why pregnancy goes wrong is helping us to understand how we can prevent complications and loss, as well as enabling specialist care for people at their own speciailist clinics, research centres and all across the NHS. Their campaign tellmewhy is rightly questioning the unfairness, outdatedness, and inadequacy of dismissing miscarriage and stillbirth as being “just one of those things”. There is a proven and scientific gender data bias away from research that supports and empowers women and families, and it is only with fantastic charities such as Tommy’s who are trying hard to end this inequality that women will no longer have to hear that as their answer in a medical setting.
The instagram account @ihadamiscarriage has a great post on this subject that I’ll now read.
Whether you lost your baby at 5 weeks.
Whether you lost your baby at 20 weeks.
Whether it is your first loss
Whether it is your fourth loss
Whether or not you already have a child
Whether you have 4 or more
Whether you lost the baby in your teens
Whether yo0u lost the baby in your forties
Whether you lost you baby through ivy
Whet5her you lost your baby through unplanned pregnancy
Your pregnancy loss still matters
Your grief matters, your tears matter
Babies born after a loss are often referred to as rainbow babies, and Emma’s story has a happy ending. Her less than 1 in a 100 story ended in a double rainbow. It is an emotional story she shares, but if it encourages just one person to be a little more open and end the silence, then hopefully this will have done a good thing. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Share your story with me on instagram @newleafpodcast.