On the day of my grandma’s funeral, I found out that she had miscarried four times in her life. She ultimately gave birth to eight healthy, wacky, Hardass children (one of them, my mother), but the news of her failed pregnancies remained secret until after she had passed away from cancer. Afterwards, I never went to my own mom to ask what happened, how the miscarriages affected her mom. I just didn’t really feel like I should.
But since then, I have been quietly fascinated, or maybe the word is troubled, by the secrecy of miscarriage.
As you may know, Lisa Ling appeared on her TV alma mater, The View, today and shared an intimate story of disappointment from having miscarried a 2-month pregnancy six months ago. Watching the segment, I was saddened–though not surprised–to learn about her reaction to the news:
“It was so shocking for me, as someone who is a very ambitious and–in my own head–competent person to have had this happen. I just felt like such an incredible failure.“
It seems like such a double curse that a woman who experiences a loss of this nature (I use the term “nature” purposefully, since in the end, she’s the woman really responsible for how the story goes) must also feel a kind of personal accountability for the bitter outcome. And the emotional corridor hardly ends there–choose from Door #2–shame, Door #3–loneliness, Door #4–fear that it will happen again. That’s a lot for one person to handle on their own. And the sad fact is, most people in this situation–like my grandma–do go it alone.
But this is why Ling decided to share her story in the public arena, an attempt to destigmatize talk of miscarriage. And, perhaps with an understanding that not all ladies have her balls of steel–or confidence to put all her cards out on the table, she and friend/partner Sophia Kim have taken this action a step further by creating a site called Secret Society Of Women. On the site, women sign in anonymously and unearth secrets: confessions of unsatisfying sex lives to shame about STDs to guilt about affairs to ambivalence about parenting/marriage/aging. Women join the Society to make a daily wish, find community, or just get heavy burdens off of their bosoms.
So maybe, for once, these women don’t have to feel like they’re in it all alone. That would be quite an achievement.
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