THE 12 WEEK SHAME
“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” – Brené Brown
Shame is always up in our faces. On the news, on reality tv, the radio, the ladies gossiping the table over from you at the café. The world loves judging from afar and discussing the choices made by others, picking at each little error that was made, like we are so much more fucking perfect.
In today’s age, I would hate to be a professional sportsperson or a celebrity. You would barely be able to take a shit without somebody trying to dissect whether you sit or stand to wipe, or which toilet paper technique you use (folder all the way baby!). Yeah, for sure as a world we are becoming more aware of judgement and there are more tools available than ever to help practice ignoring and forgetting irrelevant noise.
But it can become a lot harder to ignore when people think it is okay to judge and shame others about things more private and personal. For reasons beyond my comprehension, when it comes to anything relating to pregnancy, childbirth or raising children… all of the c***s come out of the woodwork.
Growing up we all come to learn that we generally shouldn’t tell anybody if we have fallen pregnant until after 12 weeks, in case of miscarriage during these most high risk of weeks. As a teen and during my early twenties, I always thought to myself “yeah that is fair enough,” but I didn’t really think about why.
Why in anyone’s mind would it be not okay for people to know that we have experienced something as difficult as a misscarriage?
The only answer I can think of… is to hide and cover up our shame.
Why the fuck should we feel shame about this?
Experiencing a misscarriage is a hard, challenging, upsetting, exhausting and lonely time in a couples life. Are they supposed to just keep quiet, as if they’re the only people on the planet to have ever experienced one, feel completely segregated from the rest of the ‘perfect’ world and try to manage the emotional toll by themselves?
By making misscarriage taboo, we are heaping an ungodly amount of shame and judgement onto those that ever experience one. Making misscarraige taboo makes us feel like it is uncommon, like there is something wrong with us if it happens, like we are a bad mother, like we are an unhealthy mother, like we are a mother unfit for parenting, like our current lifestyle is reckless and we don’t deserve a baby, like it is something we must never speak of, must deal with ourselves, must not speak of again, must hold onto the trauma of what has just occurred and keep it bottled deep deep down. Because if god forbid we spoke about what happened, that wrath of shame and guilt will hang off us like a soggy jumper after getting caught in the rain, sitting on a cold dark aluminium bus stop bench, alone, waiting for eternity for the rain to pass.
Court miscarried two days ago. Our little ‘Lop’ as Harper had named him/her was 8 weeks in the tummy.
To sit in a small ultrasound room, anxiously watching the monitor, knowing your wife can’t see the screen and your daughter doesn’t really yet understand what it all means, trying to be the rock amongst my two Queens, is a moment I shouldn’t feel shame for.
To see a body pop up on the monitor, flutterless, and to have to explain that “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t”, to my 5 year old daughter. To then witness the first true dose of emotional pain she has ever experienced, is something she should not feel shame for.
To go through the entire trauma… bleeding, being put through two intrusive scans, receiving the devastating news, having to pass the little berry sized human, to see its little fingers, its umbilical cord, its head, to say goodbye, to watch your tummy slowly shrink back… is something my wife or absolutely no woman should ever feel ashamed for. Ever.
Miscarriages occur in 25% of pregnancies. It is more common than we think.
But we don’t know this when society shames it. Instead we feel like one in a million. Outcasts.
There isn’t much we can do about the societal norm, except to be a catalyst for change, to be proud and vulnerable, and to not ever let the irrelevant voices of others shame us.
Proud of my wife.