One of the most repeated phrases I have heard surrounding pregnancy loss is the blanket, noncommittal, shoulder-shrugging narrative of
‘Well, you know. It happens to most women. It’s just so common.’
And this phrase literally always confuses me to no end. Is it meant to be comforting?
I assure you, it’s none of the above.
A quick Google search of the top 10 most common ailments in the US this year yields results like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Does the commonality of these illnesses lessen the gravity of diagnosis?
As the daughter of two amazing cancer survivors, I can give an accurate firsthand opinion – unequivocally NO.
Some might say that this is a flawed analogy because these diseases can be terminal or, at the very least, drastically alter the trajectory of the sufferer’s life.
I say that pregnancy loss is, in fact, fatal.
There is the literal death of the baby being carried, but beyond that, there is the death of the ‘woman you were before.’
The woman you were before – and you can never be that woman again.
Because the innocence is dead.
The hope is dead.
The untouchability, naïveté, linear thinking…all just completely obliterated in a heartbeat.
With the absence of a heartbeat.
What remains after death is the ‘woman you become.’ The woman you become after losing a child.
The woman you become after experiencing the worst pain the universe can inflict. The woman you become, who now exists every day on the planet without one or more of her babies.
If that isn’t a drastic trajectory change, then I don’t know what is.
It may be a common suffering. But it is suffering.
I’ll say it again because I feel like it isn’t stressed enough: it is suffering.
Pregnancy loss IS common in the narrative of womanhood, but the available treatment, the large scale societal reaction to its impact, appears to be little more than a tiny footnote at the very bottom of the page.
Common does not equal trivial, and frequency is not the same measuring tool as depth. With so many women experiencing this large scale, life-defining loss, why don’t we do more?
Say more? Offer more?
Why are we afraid to admit that it hurts THIS much? And why are we told to ‘relax; it’s common’ when we DO attempt to share that it hurts this much?
I’m tired of my experience being a footnote. I’m irritated with having to choose between two truths: pregnancy loss is common and pregnancy loss is bare-bones devastation.
Why can’t we be the complex human beings we were created to be, and acknowledge that pregnancy loss is both common AND devastating?
It happens a lot AND more attention needs to be given to how it is treated physically, socially, and, especially, from a mental health perspective.
To me, ‘It’s so common’ is phraseology that basically equates to being shushed, finger to lips, and I do not find that reaction to be emotionally supportive.
When someone literally shushes me, in person, I feel instant rage, indignant, the instinctual desire to be louder just because.
‘It’s SO common’ is my battle cry to be louder in the loss community, to give voice to the need for a much better understanding of the far-reaching effects.
Every time I hear how ‘common’ pregnancy loss is, all I hear is the rallying call deep in my soul to raise more awareness to the downplayed, shrugged-off grief of so many women.
Too. Many. Women.
And I can understand that 1 in 4 women have lost a pregnancy, a baby; I can accept that. I can admit that I don’t know how to fix the commonality of that reality, and I have no choice but to be okay with it.
However, I am not okay, at all, with the commonality of silent suffering.
I am not okay with it, and I will not be quiet about it until it seems like basically the rarest thing in the world.
Just try and shush me.
I dare you.