It was a phone call from my aunt that broke the news about my cousin. I remember the hushed sympathy, the way the air hung heavy with a temporary gloom. The call ended, normality resumed not long after.
Young as I was, it was shocking to me how fast the world moved on. Moved on after an unborn child lost its chance at life, after a would-be mother remained an almost mother. And my shock only deepened when my mother revealed that she had had two of her own, and how common this experience was.
One in every six women miscarries in their lifetime due to various causes – either genetic or environmental. Miscarriage is an age-old human experience, albeit a lonely and isolating one. However common it may be, the taboo of miscarriage still breathes in society. It’s spoken about in whispers and often hidden from the world, disregarding the suffering woman.
Some cultures have weaved it into stigma and superstitions, and many countries, regardless of their developmental status, do not systemically record every miscarriage. Along with the incident, the cries of the emotional wreckage accompanying it are silenced as well. Most women are told to conceal their grief, and some even shamed for not being able to ‘do their job’ of staying pregnant.
I had a glimpse into the emotional impact it causes when someone close to me lost their unborn child. Midnight had long passed when the phone rang and we received news of her reaching the hospital. And in the morning, the baby was gone. I have never heard her cry as much as she did then.
I could only imagine the sorrow, loss, and fear that shook her. It was a harmful ectopic pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage, and just as soon as it was over, it was hushed up. And when it occurred a second time, she was expected to mourn in silence and told it was “normal.” As the world around her moved on, grief kept her stagnant.
To lose a child is an overwhelming ache; to have to bear it alone, without comfort or support, is a pain immeasurable. It was that pain that separated us at that moment. Try as I might, I couldn’t feel what she felt. I could only stay by her side in solemn silence as her grief bled out. However, time heals all wounds, and she now lives with two beautiful little sons.
There’s a bright side to the morbid frequency of miscarriages. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Untangling the threads of stigma and superstition sewn into this sensitive issue can help so many women and their mental health; ultimately improving how we handle the subject entirely. An occurrence so frequent and common shouldn’t be spoken in whispers but ought to be shared to seek support and comfort. Breaking down false beliefs that accompany it is only a starting step to dispelling the cloud of silence that falls upon the agony of losing an unborn child.
It was a phone call from my aunt that broke the news that my cousin delivered a healthy baby boy. It was elation we felt when another woman close to me delivered her second child after suffering a fate-altering miscarriage.
A miscarriage is a deeply traumatic event, a profound loss. Our women need to be supported and assisted through this loss, just like we would with any other. The whispers need to cease, need to be replaced with open conversations and therapy. We cannot let them down any longer.
Written by Bushra Tungekar for MTTN
Edited by Saher Kalra for MTTN
Featured image by Sarah Wilkins
Artwork by Angelica Alzona/GMG