Sharing Stories

I have a lot of thoughts about the role of story in pregnancy, birth, miscarriage and motherhood. I haven’t had a lot of time to pull them together into a blog post and actually I think I’m going to turn them into an article instead.

However, here is a very relevant quote I came across today from a blog that a reader linked to via the comments section:

“Why is it that we do not tell our stories except to other women who
miscarry? By doing so, we are promulgating the cycle of silence.
Mothers, you who have suffered with empty bellies and empty arms, be
silent no longer! Speak up! There is no shame in having miscarried,
only in refusing to acknowledge how it changes us.
” –Jenni Brighton

(emphasis mine)

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9 responses to “Sharing Stories

  1. I have been thinking a great deal since last night about the whole notion of being a miscarriage doula, but also about the counseling/emotional support side, not just the present-in-the-moment side of supporting mothers who miscarry. I posted your link to my facebook page and asked my friends their thoughts about the idea, and one of them proposed starting a non-profit organization that could provide free doula and counseling services to these mothers, while still compensating the doulas or other people who provide the support. So now I find myself pondering over the NPO idea, and one thing that came to me very strongly was that there would be a website that would include a section for sharing miscarriage stories. Like you talked about here, that people rarely share the nitty gritty side, but just brush it off with “it’s like a heavy period.” My friend who miscarried this weekend told me afterward that she was very appreciative that I’d told her to expect it to be like labor, because it was, and nobody else had prepared her for that.

    • I, too, was very appreciative of the foreknowledge (from reading mothering.com forums) that it was going to be a labor and birth and not a “heavy period.”

      Your NPO possibility sounds awesome. Really excellent. I hope you do it. The book I’m starting to write is going to have the nitty gritty story stuff I wished for. I really appreciate the thread on MDC called “what exactly do you see with the miscarriage.” It is over 20 pages long and has plenty of nitty gritty. It is hard to find/access though, not readily available via search engine the way your website would be.

  2. by the way, thank you. 🙂 I like to hope that my sharing my stories and feelings and thoughts is helping someone.

  3. I am thinking more and more about moving on this. I’m researching seriously on what is involved with starting a nonprofit. I know you don’t know me from anyone, but you seem like the sort of person who would be an excellent team member on this sort of project. If you are interested, I would love to involve you if/as I move on this.
    http://brightonwoman.blogspot.com/2010/08/forces-for-good.html

  4. Hmmm – Molly, I have mixed feelings about this quote : at the same time, I like, and am bothered by, it. Yes, there is no shame in having miscarried, and I loved that this issue is brought to light. And yes, we should feel comfortable to share our stories (whenever I do, I am amazed by the outpouring of understanding from other women who have been in my situation, and also often from those who haven’t). BUT…I don’t believe there is any shame in refusing to acknowledge how it changes us. I believe for many women who do not acknowledge this, they are actually UNAWARE that they have been changed. Or, they have an inkling that they have, but by acknowledging that, they would need to actually acknowledge the grief and pain and deep deep emotion that goes with facing that you have lost a child. To me, there is no shame in either lack of awareness, or a desire to prevent emotional pain. I just don’t like the idea of a woman feeling ashamed for not ‘going there’, when only she knows when and if she is ready to ‘go there’. Women who refuse to acknowledge they have been changed do so for a reason, and I don’t believe we can judge whether it is a worthwhile reason or not. Such a woman is on her own path, her own journey, and maybe, by women like us continuing to talk about the impact on our own lives, we can open the door for her to begin to maybe contact her own pain. Molly, I know absolutely that you in no way meant to shame women with this quote, so that’s not where I’m coming from. At all. It just bothers me that perhaps such a woman could be on the cusp of self-awareness with her own experience, and see a quote like that, and rather than encourage her to open up, it may make her bristle with indignation and feel ‘you know nothing about me and my reasons for keeping this locked away’, and make the journey to healing harder. I hope that makes sense, and I hope that it is clear that I am not upset or anything…just, you know, thinkin’ about things a lot!

    • Melissa, your points are totally valid. My intent certainly was not to suggest that a grieving woman was shameful if she didn’t tell her story to the world, or wasn’t ready to go in deep enough to realize/experience the changes of that grief. My intent was more to validate the grieving, and to point out that even though we all grieve in our own ways, the only ‘wrong’ way is to be too repressed by society to let it out when we want or need to.
      I hope that makes more sense.

    • Thanks for commenting, Melissa, and for sharing your thoughts. I see what you mean about having a “shadow” side to some quotes that we may not recognize. The post you (not sure if it was you or Debby who wrote it) made about the “we have a secret in our culture” quote was VERY powerful and really opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t considered.

      I took the intent of the above quote to be more in the “it’s a shame” sense vs. the “shame on you” sense–does that distinction make sense? Like, “how unfortunate that space is not held [socially/culturally] for us to recognize and incorporate how it changes us.” I looked at it as a sociocultural statement rather than a personal/individual criticism.

      The quote spoke to me in a powerful way and it still does, but I appreciate your perspectives/insight as well!

  5. Hi again 🙂 Thanks both to Jenni & Molly for your replies. I should clarify that I knew that neither of you meant the quote that way…more that I was concerned that it was possible to interpret it that way. After I wrote the above comment, I lay in bed that night and thought about it, and was thinking that it’s more of it being ‘a shame’ rather than ‘shameful’…which is exactly what you are saying in your reply, Molly 🙂 And when you take it the way that you have described it (as a sociocultural statement), then it is very powerful, and a sad indication of our culture.

    I guess I’m coming from my experience with birth trauma, and then supporting other women who have had traumatic births, where we get a lot of the ‘you should be grateful’, and ‘at least you’re fine & the baby’s fine’. Which is so invalidating of what a woman has been through, and keeps them in this holding pattern.

    And I have found that miscarriage carries its own versions…the typical ‘you can always try again’, and ‘there must have been something wrong with the baby’, that tend to minimise women’s massive experiences. Faced with those responses, no wonder many women lock away their feelings because there is no permission to explore them. SO, anyway…that’s where my concern came from, and I appreciate both your responses 🙂

    And yes, Molly, I did write the article on our blog you were referring to (but Deb’s stamp is all over it anyway, as it is the result of many years of conversations about birth with her!).

    Thanks again for this opportunity to explore the reality of moving through an experience that has profoundly affected so many areas of my life – I so appreciate it 🙂

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