Dear Chrissy and John After Your Miscarriage, I've Been There. You're Not Alone.
I was scrolling through my newsfeed this morning, as I do every morning, sifting through the latest in politics, pandemic, mental health and random updates in the world today when one story stopped me dead in my tracks.
Chrissy Teigen had a miscarriage.
Now I had seen a story over the past weekend about her going to the hospital for excessive bleeding, but for days there was no follow-up story so I had assumed all was well. Modern medicine is incredible in many ways. Doctors often have the ability to stop contractions, stop miscarriages and save babies’ lives before they’re even born. But sometimes they can’t.
She had a miscarriage.
Wealthy, healthy, well-to-do, access to the best medical treatment in the world yet none of it was enough. Sometimes nothing you do is enough. Sometimes you just can’t prevent a miscarriage.
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We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough. . . We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever. . . To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you. . . Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive energy, thoughts and prayers. We feel all of your love and truly appreciate you. . . We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience. But everyday can’t be full of sunshine. On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.
My heart immediately went out to her and so many feelings flooded back to me. Because I’ve been there too. Though I’ve been blessed with beautiful, wonderful, healthy children, I’ve also struggled with miscarriages many times over the course of my life. Fourteen miscarriages to be exact – that I know of – the farthest being at six and a half months along.
The majority of the miscarriages were early on, marked by pronounced heavy bleeding. There were a few times I didn’t even realize I was pregnant until the doctor in the emergency room told me of my loss. But for my pregnancy when I lost my son at just over six months along, we had a name, had started picking out decorations, and we never saw it coming. But sometimes you just can’t prevent a miscarriage.
I remember crying each and every time, at each life lost, feeling I had somehow failed them. The blessing of their little lives were entrusted to me and I somehow did them wrong. It didn’t matter that I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs. It didn’t matter that I ate fairly healthy, did my best to take care of myself and was active. It didn’t even matter that a good deal of the reason I struggled to carry was the culmination of health issues I was born with and damage caused by sexual abuse from when I was young — things that were completely outside of the realm of my control. I was supposed to bring their little lives into this world and I failed them.
I remember people offering me what seemed like the most ridiculous, largely dismissive words of consolation.
“Maybe it’s for the best…”
As if there’s anything good in losing a child.
“Be grateful for the babies you do have…”
As if having one child or two or three could erase the loss of another. Children aren’t interchangeable.
“They’re in a better place…”
Their place was with me, to grow and be loved, to have a life, to live.
“Everything happens for a reason…”
To that, I honestly just want to say “fuck you.” That is not a consolation at all. It does not explain anything, does not erase anything, does not make anything better.
I know sometimes miscarriages happen. It’s tragic, and heart-wrenchingly painful beyond words. It is honestly better to say nothing at all to someone who is going through such a loss than to say any of that nonsense, or other words like that. There really are no words of comfort you can offer that could make it any better. The best you can say is that you are so sorry for their loss and that you are there if they need you.
I cannot even fathom what it must have been like to share such a personal, intimate tragedy so publicly as Teigen did. It took everything inside of me years ago, strength I didn’t even know I possessed, to inform family and friends I had lost my son over six months into my pregnancy. As hard as many of my other miscarriages were, that one was by far the hardest because you don’t make it to the sixth month without thoroughly expecting to bring your baby home. You know miscarriages sometimes happen, but you never expect them that far into the game.
Yet there Teigen was, pictures plastered all over my computer screen, laying in the hospital bed, the epitome of loss and grief. I sat there, reading and weeping, then weeping and writing. My heart broke for her and for every single person who has been right where she was, expecting to have a baby and not understanding what went wrong. My heart ached for her husband who couldn’t wait to watch his son grow up and for their other children who couldn’t wait to have another sibling to play with.
And my heart wept for baby Jack, her little boy who would never get the life he deserved, just as I wept for every child I have lost, for every child who should have been born but never was. We expect people who are old to eventually die — it’s horrible in it’s own right but expected, but not babies. Not our babies. Sometimes miscarriages happen. But that doesn’t make them any easier to cope with or to understand.