#IHadaMiscarriage campaign encourages women to share the pain of baby loss

I Had A Miscarriage Campaign

Grief is a difficult subject to broach, and it’s sometimes made even more difficult when that grief is as a result of a miscarriage.

Up to 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, but many other women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant – SANDS

Painful loss

People don’t know what to say or do to help the woman or family who have lost a baby. Oftentimes, it’s just not talked about at all.

Dr Jessica Zucker, a US psychologist who specialises in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health, wants to change the way we talk about and deal with miscarriage.

Jessica lost her second child when she was 16 weeks pregnant and as she navigated her grief, she determined to transform her suffering into something important and enduring: she hoped to help other women who were navigating similar experiences share their stories.

 

Stigma-busting

First, she began shining a light on the pain of miscarriage, via a series of personal essays.

Then, in 2015, she launched the @IHadAMiscarriage Instagram account, aiming to crush the stigma that surrounds the loss of a much-wanted baby once and for all, and encourage other women to share what they’d been through without fear or shame.

Women began submitting their stories, united by the #IHadAMiscarriage hashtag, and it soon became clear that while each experience of loss was very different, they shared some common threads.

Jessica was heartened to see others shining a light on something that’s often closeted.

“My personal experience was a way to model for other women around the world that there is absolutely no shame in loss,” Jessica told SELF Magazine, explaining that in the wake of loss, women often blame themselves.

“The research overwhelmingly points to women experiencing shame, self-blame, and guilt following pregnancy and loss. I had to really think it through. As a psychologist, you don’t typically share the details of your life. But [miscarriage] doesn’t mean anything about who you are, or your body being a failure,” she said.

 

I see you

Jessica realised that the women who submitted their stories to her project felt better understood and supported. This sense of solidarity helped unravel and validate the often confusing feelings that result from this difficult experience.

“People then feel this sense of recognition and a robust community. I don’t have to know you, because it’s social media, but I know those feelings so well. In so many of comments or messages people say, ‘I could have written this myself.’ Part of the point is to really show that we’re more similar than we think.”

You can follow the project – or contribute to it – on Instagram, or scroll down to read some of the stories shared.


If you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby, there is support and advice available via SANDS. Don’t go it alone, there are wonderful, informed people who want to help mums and dads through this difficult experience.

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Death is as big a part of life as birth. Yet, when it comes to pregnancy loss and infant death, we lack a vocabulary for this experience despite the fact that its survivors number in the millions. _ We are challenging the taboo that pressures bereaved parents to arrive at a happy ending suitable for sharing with friends and family. But the lingering sense of shame holds fast even as we try to eradicate it. That creates a culture of self-censorship, making it difficult if not impossible to express the degrees of sadness, anger, and longing that we experience. _ In hearing stories of pregnancy and baby loss, we are struck by how many people grieve on their own. We wonder about the cost of adapting to tragedy in isolation, but are amazed by the resilience we see every day from mothers, fathers and partners. _ There are few meaningful ways to grieve collectively as a society, but when those who suffer loss are permitted to feel it openly and amongst others, it helps them heal. Family and friends do so much by walking this terrain alongside those grieving. _ Yet grief requires patience from everyone it touches — it knows no timeframe. It is also often transformative. It colors our world completely. We see things differently, and sometimes, no less beautifully. _ As painful as the loss of a pregnancy or newly born child is, we muster strength to move forward — and some of us even thrive. Healthy babies are often born subsequently, but the longed-for lost baby is not forgotten. This is one way to persevere, though certainly not the only way. _ Many parents would not trade this dual experience of loss and parenthood; they found power in choosing to honor and remember. _ Today we are thinking about living and dying, but we are also looking toward the future. _ We must forge a new reality in which pregnancy loss is part of a global conversation. With dedicated effort to support the bereaved and an openness that acknowledges death as a part of life, we can create a society that supports women in pregnancy, and their partners, no matter the outcome. _ This is a snippet from a collective piece I wrote for @mashable (2015). . _ #IHadAMiscarriage // Photo of @tifa.fel.

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

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@motherbeastie in Ireland shares: "My children make me want to wake up in the morning, they are my life. Two years ago on April 25th 2015, my world took a very dark turn. At 15wks I found out I had lost my baby and that night everything turned from heartache to much much worse. I'll skip most of the painful details, but it's fair to say that the doctor did not thoroughly explain the severity of "passing the products of conception" OUR BABY, at 15wks. But that night at home our world got dark, and it turned into a nightmare that I now understand has left me with hints of PTSD. It's much better now, but sometimes I'm a mess. There is no "normal" miscarriage, a loss is a loss, you're losing a baby, a sweet angel now gone – and my heart broke that night and turned into fear, something went wrong and I began to heavily haemorrhage on the toilet, unable to get off. Our dear friend drove us to the hospital because the ambulance would have been too late, and I needed to have a blind procedure/minor surgery in order to stop the haemorrhage and save my life. That weekend we spent in hospital will forever be etched in my mind and heart, the way I went from always having a hand on my bump that for whatever reason we hadn't really announced properly yet. To then being terrified to touch that empty womb because it was so wrong. Our world has changed a lot since then, we have poured our tears in grief and fear, through the trauma of it all. And losing our baby more than anything else, they don't tell you that when you have a late miscarriage that you might pass your baby whole – I did. We held her, and cried over her, we prayed over her and then we buried her. Under our roses, our roses we still have, that we hold dear and every time a rose blooms we cry a little and look at it as if it was her. Our Talulah Courage, our rose that still blooms." . _ #IHadAMiscarriage #miscarriage #ptsd #pregnancyafterloss #grief #loss #1in4

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✨When you marry a rainbow baby✨ _ My mother-in-law's first pregnancy was smooth, much wanted, a girl. Toward the end of her pregnancy, movement lightened. She told her doctor. He assured her that everything was ok. Upon giving birth, they learned that their darling daughter had spina difida. She died within a few days. Bereft, my mother-in-law shuffled through the subsequent weeks in a fog. _ A year to the day of the birth of her daughter, she gave birth to twin boys. I'm married to a rainbow baby. _ I wonder how many people are rainbow babies and don't know it. Pregnancy loss is a quiet epidemic, a circumstance that too many sequester. Since research has given birth order so much weight, I think it would be fascinating to widen the scope to include rainbow babies and the losses that came before. _ This morning my daughter – my rainbow "baby" just shy of 3-and-a-half – came out of her room, excitedly snuggled into bed with us and said, "I'm grateful for my family!" My son promptly kissed her all over, my husband giggled, I simultaneously welled up and grew a huge smile on my face. The bittersweet beauty of rainbows. And their unique place in the family. _ RAINBOW MAMA + BABE TEES ARE AVAILABLE NOW IN WHITE AND GRAY. Link in profile. _ #IHadAMiscarriage #rainbowbaby #miscarriage #marriage #pregnancyloss #babyloss #motherhood #pregnancy #pregnancyafterloss #parentingafterloss #1in4 #infantloss #stillbirth // Photo found via @jasoncampbellstudio. Tees designed by @annerobincallig.

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

 

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@imlauramiller shares: "When I found out I was pregnant I cried, not out of happiness but out of terror, because I was already 2 months into the scariest depression of my life and knew I wasn't healthy enough to deal with the physical and emotional challenges of a pregnancy, much less becoming a mother. I've dealt with depression for 20+ years and am very familiar with enduring the ups and downs of life, but this was a new horrifying depth. I spent months not wanting to be alive. I haven't been able to work, and I am embarrassed about that. I have to remind myself that my accomplishments over the past 15 months are that I grew this healthy girl and that I survived. I'm now back on an antidepressant medication that saved my life once before. I don't like being on it because my ego makes me feel bad about it, and because people that don't understand think it's a cheap and easy way out. It's not. Some of us out here have brains that can't be cured from green juice and exercise and therapy, and that's ok. My warrior of a husband wrote a song about fighting through this together and it's called Joan of Arc, if you want to Spotify/google it. I love him and I love Mae. We made it out the other side and I'm going to wear color and be funny again I promise." _ #IHadAMiscarriage #motherhood #depression #mentalhealth #ppd #anxiety #speakupwhenyouredown #pregnancy #perinataldepression #womenshealth

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

 

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@redheadedwarrior shares: "The same day I found out I was pregnant, Mercury went into retrograde + I think that's fitting because what followed was a complete shit show. We were visiting family last week and when I found out, I was relieved because my period was late and now I knew why. We had started to really try to get pregnant, I'd needed some time after my first #miscarriage, which culminated in a pelvic infection that resulted in me being hospitalized for two days. The experience left me so traumatized that for some time the thought of trying to be pregnant again was terrifying. A few months ago, I decided that I felt ready or at least as ready as I ever would. I told myself that it probably wouldn't happen again, I had a completely and wonderfully unremarkable pregnancy with Edie, a beautiful labor + delivery. On Saturday, as we were getting ready to head back North I started to spot. I felt instinctively that it wasn't good, though I hoped I was wrong. Later that evening the spotting turned to heavy bleeding. I cried a little but felt relieved, just a chemical pregnancy, NBD. Then early yesterday I was awoken by a terrible pain in my right, lower abdomen. I woke up Dusty, "I think it's ectopic!" A trip to the ER, a couple of ultrasounds, blood test, and a surgery later my self-diagnosis was confirmed. The gestational sac was in my right tube, which was in poor shape from the pelvic infection last summer. So it's gone now, I'm a uni-tuber, and I'm lying in bed under the influence of hydrocodone while my dear friends take Edie to her music class so I can rest. Despite it all, I can't help but feel full of gratitude. I'm thankful that the Friday before we left for SoCal I happened to have a conversation with a woman about her ectopic pregnancy so the symptoms were on my mind, I'm grateful that I have friends + family who are willing to drop everything to help with Edie, bring flowers + soup, have pizza delivered, drive 500 miles; for modern medicine, + for my husband who left work to be with me + knew to pick up kombucha + chocolate from the co-op when I'd sent him for fruit. Cheesy af but without the darkness you can't see the light + I'm hella blessed."

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

 

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@translucentdreamm shares: "23 was a year of firsts for me. I would have been 15 weeks along if my little one decided to stay with me. I didn't know anything about miscarriages before my loss. It's not really something the average woman researches. So when #ihadamiscarriage I was so beside myself, confused, and in shock. I felt like the only one on earth at that time. I was angry with my body for failing me. I was even ashamed, and felt like I couldn't open up and talk about what happened. Almost as if I did something wrong. Even now it's hard to share this, even with all the acceptance and strength that I've built along the way. It's a hard battle to overcome. Not one day goes by without me thinking about that Saturday in April. Not one day goes by without me yearning and missing the feeling of beauty that I had when I was carrying my little one inside me. The thought that my body created a tiny human that was part me and part my lover was more beauty than I had ever felt in my 23 years. All of that vanishing is hard to swallow. It leaves you in a state of disparity. Today I am sharing my story and writing this in hopes to reach all the women who feel alone and misunderstood in their loss. I am sharing this to end the self-blame and the shame that comes along with it. You are not alone, I am here and so are millions of women that have been and are going through this. I don't want anyone to ever feel like they don't have someone to reach out to. You are strong, and your feelings are valid and you are capable and beautiful. I love you all. We will overcome and heal together✨💕 " _ #IHadAMiscarriage #endthesilence #1in4 #miscarriage #pregnancyloss #grief #loss

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

 

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