The Real Impact of Silence in Miscarriage and StillbirthDevan McGuinness
The “what ifs” and idea of loss is never far from my mind during this pregnancy. I wish, with so much might, that I could experience this pregnancy, my last, as innocently as I did my first, which ended at eight weeks gestation. During that first pregnancy, the idea that my child would not live did not enter my mind, but as it has for too many other women and families — it did end.
As October rounds out, which is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, it’s my hope that we can continue to strive for awareness and to break the silence of miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. It not only helps those who are grieving feel some peace and understanding, but it can assist in understanding, research, and help at least one person, one family, feel less alone.
I didn’t read that miscarriage or stillbirth could happen in any books I read while I was trying to conceive or in my early pregnancy. I had heard of miscarriage but didn’t think anything of it — thinking it was just something that happened to “other” people. It went off my radar, until it didn’t.
I get it: it’s not comfortable to talk about what could happen in what should be one of the happiest times of a family’s life. Growing a baby, a miracle, and immediately the planning of the pregnancy, of the child’s life, begins.
Sadly, this silence, as I experienced when I was reeling from my first miscarriage, can sucker-punch people if miscarriage and/or stillbirth happens to them, and life and future pregnancies are tainted with the realization of the worst forever. As I type this, I can feel my baby boy kick inside of me with his tiny, yet powerful 32-week gestation feet and I am acutely aware of his movements. Each morning I play music for my belly hoping to feel him move and each night when my husband gets home from work he asks how baby boy’s doing today — also checking in on if he’s moved enough today.
That’s what loss does. Even after 3 healthy, full-term children, we are actively aware of how quickly that can change, even in what all doctors consider a “totally normal and healthy pregnancy.”
The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an organization that works to “increase awareness and accelerate innovative research and interventions that will improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes around the world” released an emotional video earlier this year that highlights some of these forever-changes a family can have when pregnancy and birth doesn’t go the way we planned.
This almost-5-minute video highlights real stories from families who have been impacted by the loss of a child due to stillbirth. We hear their own “what ifs” that plague them to this day after the loss of their child. You can’t help but tear up at hearing their words and the pain behind them as they speak what life was like right after, some of the painful things they heard from people, and how they answer the questions that seem to bring uncomfort to others.
For more information on the importance of breaking your silence and just how many people are impacted by miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal loss — or if you need support yourself, please visit UnspokenGrief.com