Despite the fact that 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, the topic of miscarriage is very rarely discussed. Only recently have people started a dialogue around the taboo around sharing the pain of miscarriages, and this woman who got a tattoo after her miscarriage at seven weeks is one extremely powerful example of that. Joan B., who wishes to remain anonymous, recently shared the image of her tattoo, where it immediately received an outpouring of support, empathy, and shared stories from people who experienced the same loss.
“It’s sort of a conversation piece, because I know people don’t want to talk about miscarriages, and it’s really taboo,” said Joan in an interview with SELF. “But for me, I’m not really ashamed that it happened. It was another life experience even though it was a bad life experience. I don’t want to forget and I don’t want to pretend it didn’t happen.”
The tattoo is on her left ankle, mirroring the tattoo she got on her right ankle to commemorate her marriage. It is an image of a simple, single line connecting her to the baby that she lost, accompanied by two hearts.
Joan brings up the crux of a lot of the taboo surrounding miscarriage by mentioning the word "shame" — unfortunately, a lot of women who experience miscarriage then experience grief, shame, anxiety, and depression, according to the American Psychological Association. There is a misplaced sense of guilt, despite the fact that there was nothing the mother could have done to prevent it. According to Janet Jaffe, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Reproductive Psychology in San Diego, there is also a sense that women who miscarry early in their pregnancies are somehow "less entitled" to their grief than women who carried longer, prompting them to stay silent rather than reach out for support — despite research indicating that there is no link between the length of gestation in a miscarriage and the amount of grief a mother feels for the loss.
This taboo is, unfortunately, further reinforced by the notion that people shouldn't announce their pregnancies until the "safety window" at 12 weeks. Recently, parenting blogger Sophie Cachia addressed this taboo by announcing her pregnancy at nine weeks, writing:
I feel like it would be a serious contradiction to everything I’ve ever written about if I spent the next month continuing to lie. I didn’t want to keep lying and continue to hide my pregnancy, but yet we are made to feel like we should.
Can’t we as women have control over our bodies and thus make our own decisions? One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and women’s silence means that rate is likely to be even higher.
Women like Joan B. and Sophie Cachia being so open about their experiences and breaking the taboos around pregnancy will hopefully help foster a dialogue where women don't feel as though they have to hide their own news, good or bad — and can instead feel more free to share with their loved ones and close friends in times when they need the support most.
Images: Imgur, Unsplash