Life After Miscarriage Is Incredibly Difficult, And Christene Barberich's Essay For Refinery 29 Highlights Why It Should Be Discussed
These days, there are more options for women who don't want children than ever before, but what about about women who want children but can't seem to have them? Life after miscarriage is rarely discussed, even though an estimated one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage and the fertility industry is worth billions of dollars. Do you try again? If you experience multiple miscarriages, should you try again? What kind of toll does the tragic loss of a pregnancy take on a woman?
Refinery29's Editor-in-Chief, Christene Barberich, explores these questions in a recent essay entitled, "After 5 Miscarriages, What's Next?" After miscarrying five times — seven, if you include chemical pregnancies — in five years, Barberich opens up about her struggle with fertility: The doctors and the psychics, the hormone shots and the "new moon rituals," the support from friends and her own self-loathing. In her mid-40s, Barberich was simultaneously aware of her statistically dwindling chances for a successful pregnancy, yet also convinced that if she tried hard enough, she could avoid the miscarriages of the past.
"I was willing it to happen," she writes. "In my words, in my actions, and in my dreams. And it didn’t work."
Like many women who suffer miscarriages, Barberich writes that she feels "shame and... guilt that [she] didn't try hard enough," which is only compounded by a recurring fantasy of her partner as a father. Initially, however, Barberich didn't think to blame herself for a medical condition over which she had no control — that particular aspect was brought about by the horrified reaction of an acquaintance with whom she discussed her miscarriage. "Up until that moment, I had no clue that I might or should be ashamed of my miscarriage," she writes.
Considering the taboo surrounding the topic, it's no wonder she, and other women, end up feeling ashamed of their perceived "failure" at becoming mothers. There may be more options for women who want to remain childless in the modern day, but motherhood is still idealized as one of the greatest contributions a woman can provide to society. The prospect of doing everything "right" and still being unable to have a child can be deeply disturbing, especially in a culture that demands women "have it all."
This isn't to say that women don't discuss their miscarriages at all. In 2013, author Emma Straub wrote an essay concerning her difficulty coming to terms with a miscarriage that received an astonishing outpouring of support online. Similar essays have appeared in BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and multiple other media outlets. However, the very fact that each essay makes a huge splash speaks volumes about our discomfort with the subject.
Is it incredibly brave and moving for women to write such deeply personal essays? Of course. On the other hand, considering the tragic frequency of miscarriage, you'd think that they wouldn't be so few and far between.
In fact, this taboo is exactly what makes essays like Barberich's so important. You can (and should) give it a read at Refinery29.