*This was originally published in October 2014.
(Spoiler alert for the Season 6 Premier of Parenthood)
Let me start by saying that I LOVE the show Parenthood. The acting is authentic, the story lines real to life, and the writing is normally spectacular with a perfect blend of reality, drama, and humor. But today I am saying, “Parenthood you missed an important piece that could have gone a long way towards supporting expecting families.”
In the season premiere of Parenthood we learn that Mae Whitman’s character Amber Holt is pregnant. On a visit to her OBGYN the following conversation takes place.
Doctor: Amber I have to ask. Is this a pregnancy you want?
Doctor: I know this is hard Amber, but I’m your doctor and I have to tell you that if for any reason this isn’t a pregnancy you want you need to act sooner rather than later.
Doctor: Because it’s getting close to the time that it’s safe to start telling people.
Now lets get past the part that Amber seems to be wavering on if she is even ready for this pregnancy and skip right to….“Because it’s getting close to the time that it’s safe to start telling people.” This is my question, “When did it become un-safe to share in the news of an upcoming birth?”
We have become a society that quiets pregnancy until the made up appropriate time-the 13th week second trimester start (I get it-I fell into this during my first pregnancy). I get that the common reason why people have begun keeping their pregnancy news a secret is that if a miscarriage does occur it more often than not occurs in the first trimester. The idea is that this will help ease the pain of the expecting family from having to tell the world, “We lost our baby.”
Here is my concern. This action then creates a situation where families who suffer a miscarriage are left mourning alone, sequestered in silence, and without a supportive network.
There was a time that there was no hiding pregnancy. Women used to gather in tents or around the parameters of their community to sit for each moon cycle. It was a time that women honored their bodies, honored their cycles, and took care of each other, so it was quite obvious when a member of their community was with child. This too was a cycle to honor for both the mother and the child she was carrying. Families lost children at that time as well. While I do not have the statistics on this I would argue that more babies and mothers died at that time than they do today due to the advances of medical technology. Yet, it seems that the fear of losing the mother or baby did not stop their community from supporting and celebrating the mother-child duo immediately upon conception.
While I am not saying that all women must shout from the mountaintops that they are pregnant the moment they believe that they have conceived, I am saying that we women should NOT be put in a hole for our first trimester and isolated with our news. This should be a time of great joy and celebration. And if a miscarriage does happen the world is ready to support you.
When we suffered our miscarriage I was eight weeks along and did not have any medical complications. In terms of miscarriages that is a fairly ‘easy’ one, right? I mean I have had friends who have almost lost their own lives and friends who have lost babies even further along. I have heard some people (myself included) saying, “Is my loss significant enough to even matter?” The answer is YES, because YOU matter. Loss is still loss no matter when it occurs; it hurts physically and emotionally. If you need help please seek it; look to your tribe: your partner, family, friends, colleagues. One thing that I noticed is that as I began talking about my miscarriage others stepped forward with their stories. I was not as nearly alone as I thought I was, and while that is all the more sad it was deeply comforting to know that others understood my pain.
Everybody has a different story. Everyone has a different process of healing and for some a quiet healing process is what’s right. Also, know that if you have been sitting in silence and need more there are people who have walked your shoes; there are people who are ready to support you.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month if you know any families who have struggled with pregnancy or infant loss reach out and ask them how you can support them. And if you yourself have suffered this loss please know that there are people who love you and support you. And you never know, by being there for others you may begin to mend as well. It is not about getting over your loss, but living with it and healing.
I have also written here about my recent miscarriage, and I believe that it has helped my healing process. Help can take many forms. Here are some ideas…
Look to your partner:
While I talk a lot about going through this alone, rarely are we really alone. There is another person who is traveling this journey alongside you and we each have our own perspective, but there is a place that they cross and in that place talk with each other. It is important that both partners feel heard. Sharing your inner emotions, your perspectives, and your needs with each other can give you the ability to hold each other in not only the pain, but also in the rebuilding.
Find a support group: Check with your local childbirthing community (doulas, midwives, lactation professionals, and La Leche League Leaders). These resources usually have referral lists. Facebook is also great for finding organizations, local and otherwise.
Talk to a professional. There are many therapists and coaches who specialize in pregnancy and infant loss.
Ask for help during your healing time:
You are healing. Please treat yourself as such. Ask for help doing household chores and extra to-dos on your list. Even if you are no longer physically healing you might be still processing emotionally, let your needs and feelings be known to your loved ones and friends so that they can support you.
Let your story be heard:
Many women, and men, find it healing to share their story. There is something quite cathartic about self-expression from writing, storytelling, art, and music, even dance. Let your story out of your body and into the world so that the world can hold you. And it doesn’t have to be done publicly, in the privacy of your home can work wonders too.
And most importantly share your story, if you can, so that other women and families know that they are not alone, that there is no reason to hide, and to honor the life that was trying to come into this world.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep:
nilmdts is a non-profit organization that offers remembrance portraits to families who have suffered the loss of a baby. Their services are free of charge. More information can be found at www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org
So, Parenthood and everyone else who teaches women and their families that we should be keeping silent about our pregnancies my thought is this, “We would never not mourn publicly the loss of an older child. Why should a pregnancy loss be any different? Announcing the life trying to bloom within us is how we honor them; lets not hide our babies, but celebrate them."
To a Confident, Sexy, Love filled life!
Kimberly Lindsay, BA, CPCC, ORSCC, IBCLC
Mental Fitness Coach for Spiritual & Creative Moms:
Who are ready to ditch their saboteurs so they can show up
as the partner, parent, and person they want to be - getting back to self and back to roots.