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Blog

Pregnancy and loss -- the the story behind the story

Brenda St John Brown

So yesterday I was over on Facebook with Our So-Called Group and they asked what inspired me to write The Truth Series. One of those questions that make you go hmmm because, well, it’s actually a weirdly personal story and one I had second thoughts about sharing. But then I had a third thought and realized my misgivings weren’t about sharing, but about public discussion of a topic usually only talked about in hushed whispers, and that made me think sharing it was okay.

After I had my son, I had a series of miscarriages. After number five, I realized I was never going to have another kid and I had to find a way to make peace with that, but I always felt like the miscarriages were my fault somehow. There’s this overwhelming sense of loss – and guilt – when you miscarry that people don’t talk about much. It’s an incredibly painful emotional experience, but it’s the self-blame, I think, that keeps many women from being open about it. Through all of my own experiences, my husband was super supportive. But I started thinking, “What if he wasn’t? What if I was with someone who blamed me as much as I blamed myself?” I could easily see how that kind of thing could destroy a relationship, especially if it was fragile to begin with. Then my imagination took over and Eric was born – a man who took Ella to court for negligence over her role in the still birth of their child. I actually had Eric’s character very clearly in mind before I had Ella’s, but once I started thinking about her, I knew I wanted her to be difficult and emotionally distant with plenty of room for growth.

I'm not sharing my own story to garner sympathy, although I'm sorry it happened. It's been a lot of years now and I can talk about it matter-of-factly. When I was going through this, though, I couldn't. I didn't even want to tell my then-employer what was happening. I hadn't even told them I was pregnant and I was calling in sick because suddenly I wasn't anymore and that made me feel worse. I had friends having kids at the time and I was thrilled for them, but sad, too, because in the back of my mind was that little voice saying, "what if?" And, worse, "not me."

I was never very open about this at the time -- family knew, of course, and a few close friends. But as I started being able to talk about it, I was astonished at how incredibly common miscarriage actually is. It seemed everyone I talked to either had one, themselves, or knew someone who had. Which is the point of my sharing this at all -- if you're going through this, you're not alone. There are groups who can help, including the Miscarriage Association in the UK and a group of organizations worldwide listed here.  I found a lot of support on the message boards at Baby Center. Sharing, even virtually, helps. And it does get better. As someone who's come out the other side of this, I swear. It gets better.