We Need to Talk About Miscarriage

Did you catch Four Corners this week?

It took a look at the fertility industry in Australia with a focus on whether clinics are being clear and unambiguous in their advice to patients on their chances of IVF success.

If you missed it you can catchup here.

It was pretty interesting. It focused on the stories of those who hadn’t had success through IVF and the physical and emotional toll of that.

The program was torn to shreds in The Australian for failing to include the other side of the story: the successful IVFers.

No matter what you thought of what went to air, one line stuck with me.

It was from Kylie, multiple IVFer, who said that after experiencing an IVF miscarriage, “I didn’t think my life was worth living if I wasn’t going to be a mother.”

A few weeks ago I wrote about the car accident that changed my life. I may have left out a detail…or two.

And that was pretty much how I wanted things to stay.

Mainly I left things out because I was looking for someone, anyone, to be the one talking about this stuff. I’d rather talk about pretty much anything else…Another Ayurvedic recipe anyone?

Not because it makes me feel sad. I’m in a great place (I put that down to a lot of meditating, by the way) and I know the experiences that I’ve had have made me a stronger person and pushed me towards figuring out how to have a better experience of life. More because of the culture of silence. Which is exactly why we need to share our experiences.

Miscarriage is rarely, if ever, discussed openly. Nor stillbirth or infertility.

I opened up a little more last week on the blog. Mainly because the more I wasn’t talking about it, the more life showed me how great the need was for me to do so. To open up dialogue around these experiences.

Why? Because anything that we don’t openly discuss in society, brings shame. It’s that simple.

And with shame comes its buddies fear and doubt (I’m all too familiar with all three).

It just so happens that I’ve also been reading Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, by shame and empathy researcher Brene Brown.

Brilliant. Highly recommend adding this one to your reading list.

Brene spent 6 years developing a theory to explain what shame is, how it works, how we cultivate resilience, and the traits of those who are the most resilient to shame. Her TED talk The Power Of Vulnerability remains one of the most watched TED talks of all time, currently with over 25 million views. She’s written another awesome book too called Rising Strong.

To sum up Brene’s findings: shame thrives on secrecy.

So it makes sense then that researchers at the University of Queensland have identified a link between the development of anxiety, depression and alcohol and drug dependency problems following a miscarriage.

Conversely, in a pioneering study by University of Texas Professor of Psychology James Pennebaker and his colleagues, it was shown that when people shared their stories of trauma (and let’s be real, experiencing miscarriage and stillbirth is trauma), there was a significant decrease in their stress hormones, meaning their physical health improved.

Miscarriage happens to one in four pregnancies. It’s statistically a more likely experience than ovarian or breast cancer. With one in six Australian couples experiencing infertility and six babies per day in Australia being stillborn, that’s a lot of unspoken trauma. And therefore shame.

So statistically you know someone who’s been through or is going through these experiences. Though you may not know that you know them, because of the silence that persists around these experiences.

I think it’s time we break down the commonly reported feelings of isolation and alienation that comes with miscarriage, infertility and stillbirth.

After all, we are hard wired for connection.

It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering” – Brene Brown.

Pic via clamlykaotic.com

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