The Miscarriage Club — The Club I Never Wanted To Join

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I’m a member of a club. It is special, but not exclusive. In fact, millions of women are members and don’t even realize it. I wish I wasn’t a member because this isn’t the kind of club one aspires to join. We’re thrown in it and often so cloaked with shame that we feel we can’t talk about it.

It’s the Miscarriage Club.

After mine, I desperately wanted to understand what had happened and needed to talk about it. It was then that I noticed that almost everyone I told had experienced it, as well. Their comforting words at hearing of my loss all started with “When I had mine …”

"Why do we cloak this tragic, but completely natural, experience in such shame?"

Through countless stories I heard then and in the years since, I found out that miscarriage is different for everyone. For some, it was over very quickly and with little to no pain. For others, it was excruciating and lasted for days. For some of us, it turned into a very scary threat to our health. Some lost our first baby and others lost one (or more) in between later children. But no life was less precious than another to the mother who was expecting it.

I would estimate that at least 75 percent of my friends have lost a baby, too. Yet I was only aware of a very few at the time it happened to them.

I started wondering why. Why do we cloak this tragic, but completely natural, experience in such shame?

Why 'Miscarriage,' Anyway?

And why do we call it miscarriage, anyway? Miscarriage literally means corrupt or incompetent management. Oh, and it also means the involuntary expulsion of a human fetus. Gee, nice of the world’s ancient word picker-outers to have attached that last meaning to a word that means failure. And they wonder why women internalize these ideas — why we sit for hours on end and pick apart each tiny decision we made and wonder if that was the thing we did that killed our baby. Was it the soft drink I had with lunch that did it? Did I lift something too heavy? Did I exercise too much? Or not enough? What, exactly, did I manage so incompetently?

We had always shared pregnancy news as soon as we found out. Although it was hard to tell friends that the baby had died, they offered us lots of support. One friend left groceries on our doorstep with a note that read, "I’m here if you want to talk. I’m here if you don’t want to talk." That was a perfect response.

But each of us has to deal with pregnancy and possible miscarriage in our own way. Tell everyone the second you find out you’re pregnant, wait to tell people until later, find out the sex of your baby, wait to be surprised. There is no wrong way.

There is no shame, there are only choices, and your choices are the business of you and your partner and no one else.

Remove the Blame, End the Shame

How can we be examples to the younger generations of women coming up to value themselves and their bodies if we aren’t willing to talk openly and honestly about the tough parts that come with being a woman? Some people are just private and don’t wish to share stuff like that, and that’s totally okay. Not everyone speaks at a club meeting, but all will listen. We each need to feel like we can experience our lives in the ways we see fit. But we need to find a way to remove the blame and end the shame. Your miscarriage was not your fault.

I had this fantasy that I would add to the conversation around destigmatizing miscarriage by contributing a new term to reframe it. But I came up empty-handed. Maybe someone else will be more successful.

So in the meantime, I’ll just keep referring to it as a club, because at least that communicates the idea that you are not isolated in your experience. I hope you never qualify to join. But if you do, there are millions of women out there who have gone through something similar. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your female friends and family members if you want to talk about it, because I guarantee you know someone who’s been through it and is more than willing to support you.

As in all aspects of womanhood, you are not alone.

Tags: Grief, Pregnancy Loss & Miscarriage

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Written By

Becky Hepinstall Hilliker

Becky Hepinstall Hilliker is the co-author of Sisters of Shiloh (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) and a freelance writer. See Full Bio

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