The #ihadamiscarriage hashtag is looking to end the silence around losing a baby

Woman holding flower
They’re far more common than people think, too [Photo: Pexels]

As if losing a baby isn’t devastating enough, too many women feel they can’t mention what’s happened to them.

Whether you’re an average woman or a high-profile celebrity, the stigma is the same.

Despite the fact that they’re very common; among women who know they’re pregnant, one in six pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

Yet many of us aren’t aware of this, as no one talks about it.

Which is what one social media hashtag, #ihadamiscarriage, is hoping to change.

No Mother By Jessica Costanzo @hitch160. Stories from around the world. Posted with permission. _ No mother should learn at 16 weeks pregnant that the child she is carrying has a fatal condition. No mother should have to decide if she carry her terminally ill child to term or end her pregnancy. No mother should have to explain to their 2.5 year old son that his baby brother has died. No mother should have her milk come in when she has no child to feed. _ No mother should find out at the 8 week ultrasound for her next pregnancy that her baby has passed away. No mother should bleed for over a week as that child leaves her body. No mother should see in a 12 week ultrasound that yet another baby that has passed away – a baby that was moving a week before is now still and has no heartbeat. No mother should birth that baby stillborn at home and literally see the glimmer of what could have been. _ No father should lose his child and then watch in fear as his wife bleeds excessively and is rushed to the ER for emergency surgery. _ No mother should experience any of these things, yet I have experienced them all. _ About 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage yet the experiences are rarely talked about. I write about my experiences so other mothers know they are not alone. No mother should face such pain in isolation. _ #IHadAMiscarriage #pregnancyloss #grief #loss #motherhood #stillbirth #1in4 #miscarriage // Image found via @taxcollection.

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on May 12, 2017 at 6:56pm PDT

Jessica Zucker, a psychologist specialising in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health based in Los Angeles, US, thought up #ihadamiscarriage after miscarrying at 16 weeks pregnant with her second child.

After her loss, she began to tell her story through a series of essays which she added the hashtag to.

In 2015, she then went on to create a new Instagram account IHadAMiscarriage, which invites women to tell their own stories of lost pregnancies.

Throughout my younger years, we had a weekend ritual of roller-skating along the boardwalk on Venice Beach. We made up stories, toggling back and forth, weaving together an elaborate tale about whatever came to mind. The trust between us was strung together by his deep emotional engagement and my sense that no matter the circumstance, he would catch me if I fell. Unbeknownst to me at that nimble age, I was learning how to mother through my father’s example. _ He’s the person I turned to when tweenhood commenced. Growing pains, breasts, pubic hair, menstruation, and fledgling boy crushes — all topics we covered when the time was right. I’m sure my girlhood ease in discussing such intimate things with my father was partly because he is a physician, but even more so, it was how he took me seriously, and how matter of fact he was about the big questions of each successive milestone. He normalized these maturational seismic shifts just by being himself, and in so doing validated my ability to be myself. His quick wit and deep smiling eyes inspired certitude and steadiness, even while talking about ephemeral things like bras and girl gossip. _ On the one-year anniversary of my second trimester miscarriage, his was the voice I wanted to hear. I sobbed uncontrollably on the phone, replaying the details to him as my very pregnant belly jiggled with new life. He wept too as we reflected on my pain and he described what it was like to hear his “baby” go through this traumatic loss. He said he admired my courage to enter pregnancy again and provided me with a resting place to lay my grief. _ My father rushed straight to the hospital after my daughter was born on a drizzling night in December. Watching him hold my brand new baby girl, while he retold the story of my birth, felt like something out of a movie. He talked about my mom's unmedicated birth with me, just moments after my unmedicated birth with my daughter and marveled at the passage of time and the awe that hangs in the balance. _ This is a snippet of a piece I wrote in 2015 titled How I Learned to Mother Through My Father. _ #IHadAMiscarriage #fathersday #loss #motherhood #grief // Photo by #FionaOsborne @ignant.

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:30am PDT

And each touching story reveals just how different each woman’s experience of is.

While Zucker’s first pregnancy went smoothly, her second pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage in her second trimester.

After 16 weeks, she started spotting, and went into labour.

She delivered at home alone, and began hemorrhaging, when her husband returned home and rushed her to hospital to remove the placenta and remnants of the pregnancy.

“Two hours later I went back to my house and was no longer pregnant,” Zucker told Self.

“That was pretty much the most profound thing that ever happened in my life. The most traumatic.”

Medical tests soon revealed the fetus had chromosomal abnormalities which, if Zucker had known about, she may have chosen to terminate.

While she has since tried again and given birth to a rainbow baby, Zucker has seen the experience as an opportunity to help women who feel ashamed about their own miscarriages.

“My personal experience was a way to model for other women around the world that there is absolutely no shame in loss,” she said.

And she hopes that the Instagram account and hashtag will help women to understand there is absolutely no shame in miscarrying, nor talking about it.

“By putting it out there in the world and sharing it with women globally, people then feel this sense of recognition and a robust community,” she said.

“I don’t have to know you, because it’s social media, but I know those feelings so well.

@redheadedwarrior shares: "The same day I found out I was pregnant, Mercury went into retrograde + I think that's fitting because what followed was a complete shit show. We were visiting family last week and when I found out, I was relieved because my period was late and now I knew why. We had started to really try to get pregnant, I'd needed some time after my first #miscarriage, which culminated in a pelvic infection that resulted in me being hospitalized for two days. The experience left me so traumatized that for some time the thought of trying to be pregnant again was terrifying. A few months ago, I decided that I felt ready or at least as ready as I ever would. I told myself that it probably wouldn't happen again, I had a completely and wonderfully unremarkable pregnancy with Edie, a beautiful labor + delivery. On Saturday, as we were getting ready to head back North I started to spot. I felt instinctively that it wasn't good, though I hoped I was wrong. Later that evening the spotting turned to heavy bleeding. I cried a little but felt relieved, just a chemical pregnancy, NBD. Then early yesterday I was awoken by a terrible pain in my right, lower abdomen. I woke up Dusty, "I think it's ectopic!" A trip to the ER, a couple of ultrasounds, blood test, and a surgery later my self-diagnosis was confirmed. The gestational sac was in my right tube, which was in poor shape from the pelvic infection last summer. So it's gone now, I'm a uni-tuber, and I'm lying in bed under the influence of hydrocodone while my dear friends take Edie to her music class so I can rest. Despite it all, I can't help but feel full of gratitude. I'm thankful that the Friday before we left for SoCal I happened to have a conversation with a woman about her ectopic pregnancy so the symptoms were on my mind, I'm grateful that I have friends + family who are willing to drop everything to help with Edie, bring flowers + soup, have pizza delivered, drive 500 miles; for modern medicine, + for my husband who left work to be with me + knew to pick up kombucha + chocolate from the co-op when I'd sent him for fruit. Cheesy af but without the darkness you can't see the light + I'm hella blessed."

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on Apr 26, 2017 at 8:42am PDT

“In so many of comments or messages people say, ‘I could have written this myself.’

“Part of the point is to really show that we’re more similar than we think.”

Check out the account here.

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