When you’re pregnant, it’s easy to freak out. When it’s your first pregnancy, it’s really easy to freak out. Your body starts doing all kinds of crazy things, none of which it’s done before, and you have no idea what’s normal, so every little ache, pain, twinge, and sting sends you running to the internet to find out if your body is supposed to do this. It’s no wonder, then, that doctors and nurses and friends and the internet want to try and reassure you that everything is probably fine by telling you that the most likely outcome of this pregnancy is a healthy baby.
And it’s true. You have probably an 80% chance of carrying your baby to term and delivering a pink (at least underneath all the goo), screaming child that you will take home with you and love immensely.
If you are pregnant, just stop reading now. My purpose in writing today is not to scare you, but to make a point that statistics are deceptive, and to encourage women who’ve had miscarriages and felt like some kind of freak because they believed that it was not likely to happen to them and that no one else in their spheres has experienced it.
Statistically speaking, about a third of women who’ve been pregnant have had a miscarriage. So pick any three ladies who have kids or have been trying to have kids. One of them has probably miscarried at some point. Between you, your mom, and your grandmother, one of you has probably had this horrible experience. In the past 12 months, according to census info from this website, 4.1 million women have given birth in the United States. That means about 1.4 million of just those women (1/3 of 4.1) have had a miscarriage at some point.
Now let’s say about 4 million babies were born in the last 12 months in the U.S. (logic, but also fact you can look up). And I am not a mathematician by any means, so if this is all wrong, just bear with me. The point is the same. If the chance of miscarriage for each pregnancy was 20%, then 4 million is 80% of all pregnancies, the other 20% having been lost to miscarriage. That would mean that there were a million miscarriages last year alone in the United States. Shoot, that would mean that for the roughly 350,000 babies born every day worldwide, 87,500 more are lost to miscarriage. Every day.
I’m told that what happened to us was “rare.” And I guess, statistically speaking, it is. Late miscarriages occur in 1-5% of all pregnancies. If we shoot for the middle of that statistic, that means that every year in the U.S. alone, there are about 150,000 miscarriages (3% of 5 million) that occur between weeks 12 and 20 of pregnancy – when you’re led to believe that you’re “out of the woods.” This statistic varies wildly depending on what you’re reading, and like I said, I’m no statistician, so please take all of this with a grain of salt. All I’m saying is that’s a lot of babies.
And if that many women have lost that many babies, this is really something we should be discussing. If someone you love could be going through the physical and emotional trauma of a miscarriage on any given day, why aren’t we talking about it? Why aren’t we preparing ourselves to help the women and families we love? Why aren’t we telling people that we’re hurting and scared?
The less we talk about something, the more mystery surrounds it, and the more frightening and shameful it becomes. The more we risk the vulnerability it takes to discuss it, the less vulnerable, frightened, and ashamed it makes us feel. I don’t know about y’all, but I am not ok with feeling frightened and ashamed, and I don’t want my friends to feel that way either. I respect their privacy if they don’t want to share. That is their choice. But that’s the thing – sharing or not sharing should be a choice you make out of the empowerment you feel to make the choice, not out of shame or fear.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, please know that you aren’t abnormal. Literally millions of other women have gone through it, and I guarantee you are close enough to at least one of them to talk about it if you want to. And if you’re not, email me. Seriously. Don’t stay in the dark, scared or ashamed. I’m with you, and I have a flashlight.