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There Is No Shame in Miscarriage

I am 30 — the age when, among other things, you begin to stop hearing from your friends for about three months. Then finally, at the end of 12 weeks, you get a Sunday afternoon call announcing what you knew already: She is pregnant, and at the end of her first trimester. I’ve experienced this disappearing act a few times already with relatives and good friends. Each time, I’ve been thrilled to hear the now-public news. But at the same time, I was uneasy about the fact that it was a kept from me.

I know that this sounds kind of selfish, but it’s not. The reason this news is usually kept private during the first trimester is because that is the timeframe in which miscarriages are most likely to occur. If someone I am close to miscarries, I want to be able to be there for her. I want her to know that while it is undoubtedly sad, it is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not her fault — just a biological malfunctioning in the tough and risky endeavor that is making babies.

I am all in favor of keeping the celebration of the baby to a minimum, something fellow Sisterhood contributor Debra Nussbaum Cohen wrote rather convincingly about here. I hesitate to brainstorm baby names, discuss nursery decorations or plan showers with the belief that such talk or planning would be tempting the Evil Eye. (I grew up around regularly employed kein ayin haras — verbal shields against the Evil Eye.) While many roll their eyes at this, I do believe there is a wisdom and humility at the core of these superstitions. Though couldn’t there be a distinction between acknowledging and celebrating a pregnancy?

Someone close to me recently miscarried far into her pregnancy. In addition to the deep sadness and devastation, the would-be mom also felt a sense of guilt and responsibility that her husband, who was also sad and devastated, didn’t for the most part seem to share. Having never been pregnant, I have no idea what it feels like to lose a baby living inside of you, but imagine it to be the kind of terrible I have never experienced — and hope never to experience. But I also think that if there wasn’t this aura of secrecy around pregnancy, a secrecy based for most in a fear to “fail” (miscarry) in public, that the guilt and culpability would not have been as strong.

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