For most women, living and working through a miscarriage is quiet and isolating. It happens to one in four of us—but no one ever talks about it. It happened to me in 2013. I was almost ten weeks’ pregnant with our first baby when I was told there was no heartbeat. I was heartbroken. Before that day, not once had I even thought about miscarriage. This was my first pregnancy and it was, honestly, the last thing on my mind. I miss that blissful naivety.
I was working in New York at the time, as Editorial Director for Victoria’s Secret. A big, demanding job. I remember going to work the day after being told I’d lost my baby and someone asking, ‘How are you?’ It makes me so sad to think back to that day and remember the loneliness I felt. I wish I’d been able to answer truthfully, share my grief and not carry the burden alone. I even kept the truth from my boss, a woman I was very close to personally, telling her that I needed a day off the next day ‘for a small procedure’—a D&C. I just couldn’t get the words out, ‘I had a miscarriage’. I felt a strange sense of shame, as if I’d failed somehow.
If I could go back to that time there are so many things I’d do differently, especially on the work front. I’ve shared some (hopefully) helpful advice below, including tips for colleagues and managers of women experiencing pregnancy loss.
Give yourself time
Life can get in the way, even when you’re going through something this big. Remember that everything can wait—yes, even your job. You are experiencing something that’s physically and emotionally intense and uncertain. Take your time to rest and start the healing process.
Talk about it, if you feel like it
Talk to your friends, your family and your colleagues. Share your loss and be comforted by the shared experiences of those around you. You might be surprised by how many women have gone through what you are going through. Speaking your story out loud—or writing it down if you are not ready to speak it—can be incredibly healing and also gives you an opportunity to honour your experience.
Connect with others
I think a lot of people underestimate the sadness a miscarriage can bring because it is so common. What has comforted me in the years since my miscarriage is connecting with women in my life who have gone through the same thing. There’s a shared understanding of this unique kind of grief, and a solidarity amongst those who have lived it.
If you’re not ready to connect in person, take a look at @ihadamiscarriage on Instagram. Created by clinical psychologist Dr Jessica Zucker to address the cultural silence around miscarriage after her own experience, it features a world of women who get exactly what you are going through.
For friends, colleagues and managers
Remember that grief truly knows no timeline and please, be careful what you say.
SAY . . .
I’m here for you
You are not alone
Take all the time you need
Do you want to talk about it?
DON’T SAY . . .
I know how you feel (unless you actually do)
You can try again
At least you know you can get pregnant
It happened for a reason
I hope that if you are going through this now, these words help a little. Remember that many women have walked this path before you and many are walking it with you right now—you are not alone in your grief.
Written by Gabrielle Nancarrow. Gabrielle is a mum of two little girls, a birth and loss doula, and the founder of GATHER, a space for women to come together, connect and build community. GATHER is located in Seddon, Victoria, and offers workshops, doulas, yoga, meditation and sharing circles—including circles on birth loss.