When Mark Zuckerberg had big news to share, he did it the same way as millions of people before him – via his social media monolith, Facebook. And there was a lot to like about his post, for more than one reason – it also put a spotlight on one of the biggest pregnancy taboos.
Zuckerberg took to Facebook last week to announce to his 25 million followers that he and wife Priscilla Chan are expecting a baby girl. “This will be a new chapter in our lives,” the post says. “We’ve already been so fortunate for the opportunity to touch people’s lives around the world … Now we’ll focus on making the world a better place for our child and the next generation.”
He goes on to say the couple want to start doing that by sharing their experiences of pregnancy loss – and the loneliness that comes with it. “We’ve been trying to have a child for a couple of years and have had three miscarriages along the way,” Zuckerberg writes.
“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone.”
He says most people don’t talk about miscarriage because “you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you – as if you’re defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own”.
Pregnancy and baby loss support organisation Sands Australia estimates about one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. It’s impossible to know exact figures though, as many happen before the woman realises she is pregnant.
Zuckerberg says the couple only realised how common miscarriage was when they started talking about it to friends. He encourages other couples to discuss it because it fosters understanding and tolerance, and gives grieving couples hope.
“We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well,” he says.
Zuckerberg says Chan’s risk of miscarriage is now low and they are hopeful and excited for the future. “In our ultrasound, (the baby) even gave me a thumbs up ‘like’ with her hand, so I’m already convinced she takes after me,” he says.
If you need help to deal with pregnancy or newborn loss, contact Sands Australia on 1300 072 637.