#IHadaMiscarriage Invites Women To Speak Openly About Miscarriage Via Instagram
Miscarriage can be difficult to talk about, making women and their partners feel as though it’s a loss they have to grieve on their own. To help people speak openly about their experience and reduce the silence surrounding miscarriages, Jessica Zucker, PhD, started a social media campaign encouraging others to speak up.
Zucker, a California-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal health, started #IHadaMiscarriage in 2014, after writing a piece for the New York Times about having a miscarriage.
Shortly after, she began a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #IHadaMiscarriage. She then took her campaign to Instagram, building a community of women who have experienced pregnancy loss.
@thejonesmarket shares: “Life keeps moving. And there are “good” days. This really just means you were able to leave the house and make small talk if you have to. So, there you are standing in a safe, shallow spot of a relatively calm ocean, small talking and almost beginning to enjoy the sun when a wave comes from no where and drags you under water. You don’t know how long until you’ll be able to breathe again. You never know. All your mind can think is “I want my son, I want my son, I want my son, my son is dead, my son is dead, my son is dead”. If you try to fight your way back up too fast you’ll get knocked against the unforgiving sharp shells again, so you stay. The bottom of the ocean feels like an appropriate place to be anyway. Grief.” _ #IHadAMiscarriage #miscarriage #infantloss #stillbirth #grief #loss #motherhood #1in4 // Illustration by @pedrotapa found via @picame.
Zucker’s series recently picked up traction again after being featured on SELF.
“There is overwhelming research that shows women experience shame, blame and guilt after pregnancy loss,” Zucker told The Mighty. “The lack of conversation doesn’t make people forget their loss, it makes you feel more isolated.”
According to Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Researchers suspect the miscarriage rate might be underreported since some miscarriages occur before a woman is aware she’s pregnant.
# IHadAMiscarriage I had a 2nd trimester miscarriage. This is a fact of my life. An experience that changed who I am. Pregnancy after pregnancy loss changed me all the more. I have no shame. No self-blame. No guilt. I did nothing wrong. I did nothing to deserve this. My body works. I don’t feel it failed. I embrace my grief fully and allow it to wash over me. I grieve still. I don’t believe rainbow babies “replace” our lost loves. When we lean into heartache, we evolve. When we work vigorously to stave it off, we drown. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I know I am not alone, nor are you. _ This campaign is here for anyone who has experienced any type of pregnancy or infant loss. We are here to share stories with the aim of softening stigma and ushering in connection. Let this space be a life line. An anchor. A community. _ What an elating honor it is to have my work and specifically this page featured on @selfmagazine today. Link in profile. _ #IHadAMiscarriage #miscarriage #pregnancyloss #stillbirth #infantloss #motherhood #grief #loss #parenthood #pregnancyafterloss #rainbowbaby #1in4 // This sign accompanied the birth of the I Had A Miscarriage campaign in 2014. Lettering by @annerobincallig.
“Women are gathering because they don’t want to be alone,” Zucker said of the #IHadaMiscarriage community. So far, her Instagram account has more than 13,000 followers. As part of the series, women are invited to share their stories, either publicly or anonymously. Their words are then paired with either a photograph or artwork.
#IHadaMiscarriage is just one way Zucker is breaking the silence around pregnancy loss. She’s also created a line of cards that can be given to loved ones who have experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss. She also sells t-shirts for women who’ve had “rainbow babies,” the term used to describe babies born after a miscarriage.
If I hear about one more person being crushed under the words, “At least you know you can get pregnant. Everything happens for a reason” I think I might take to the rooftops frothing at the mouth, incensed. “Hey people, platitudes don’t work. In fact, they can F off!” . _ Sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. _ Just stop. _ We’ve got to strive to be present during these crushing times. Truly present. If not, we might actually be guilty of contributing to the glaring isolation. _ #IHadAMiscarriage #miscarriage #pregnancyloss #infantloss #grief #loss #motherhood #rainbowbaby #stillbirth #pregnancyafterloss #1in4 // Illustration by @fucci.
“I like the idea I am creating a space where I talk honestly about aspects of loss,” she said. I say a lot of what people feel they are not allowed to say or feel, allowing healing and connectivity.”
Zucker said she receives messages from women around the world who have had miscarriages almost every day.
“There is absolutely no shame in loss,” she added. “We need to eradicate the shame and with that, the stigma and silence will go away. I don’t want women thinking they did, or their bodies did something wrong.”
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.
As Zucker mentioned, there is no race, class, religion or spirituality that protects you from experiencing a miscarriage.“There is an overwhelming lack of cultural conversation surrounding grief and loss.” she said. This series, she hopes, will change perceptions, more and more with every post.
You can view more #IHadaMiscarriage posts on Zucker’s Instagram.