Last year for Baby Loss Awareness Week I wrote an article for the Guardian about the language of pregnancy loss, and I was thrilled to be given the opportunity again this year. This year I wrote about the '12-week rule'; how it perpetuates the notion that miscarriage is something to hide and we shouldn’t make a fuss, thereby forcing so many women & couples to suffer in silence - and why we need a more empathic and supportive culture around early pregnancy loss.
For something that's so common (1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss), miscarriage can feel so incredibly lonely, because we're made to feel that it's no big deal and something we should sweep under the carpet. There's a difference between privacy and secrecy: privacy is voluntary, it's a choice you make to keep information to yourself - whereas secrecy is involuntary, when information is kept private out of fear for the consequences. The decision about what, when & if to share information about fertility, infertility, pregnancy and all outcomes thereafter should be a personal choice for YOU to do what's right for YOU - not an enforced societal expectation.
As a non-journalist, it’s a real honour to see my words in print - I’m chuffed to bits, and profoundly grateful to everyone who shared their thoughts on the 12-week rule with me. There's so much more I could have said, and I'd have loved to have explored the different perspectives around the decision to 'tell' - but unfortunately I was up against the constraints of a limited word count! Extra thanks to Prof Arri Coomarasamy, director of the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research and Dr Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist specialising in women's reproductive and maternal mental health and creator of the incredible #IHadAMiscarriage campaign, for their input.
As Jessica says - we may not be able to cure miscarriage, but why don't we at least attempt to cure the conversation?
There were a few snarky comments in the Guardian comments section (as you’d expect), but on the whole the reaction to the article has been astonishing and overwhelming in the best way. So many comments on social media brought me to tears: not just because they said how because the conversation about this subject was happening and visible - and both women AND men were stepping out of the shadows to talk about their experiences of loss.
I’m deeply sad that so many people have had their own experiences of loss for this piece to resonate, but if it’s helped just one person feel less alone, then to me it’s a job well done.