When I decided to share the story of my late-term miscarriage publicly, I was doing so because I had a visceral need to be open about it, to honor the life that I’d carried in my body, and to turn the awful experience into—somehow—something positive. There was also a tiny glimmer of hope in the back of my mind that it would help others, but I honestly didn’t know if it would or really believed that it could. So when the responses came flooding in after posting my article about my experience, I was really and truly floored.
I heard from people who I’d known in some capacity for years and yet had never been privy to the truth that they, too, had experienced child loss or had been undergoing fertility treatment for years in relative silence. When that happened, that tiny glimmer of hope grew into a huge, beating ray of sunshine in my life and gave me a purpose and a way forward out of the fog of losing my baby.
One of the most incredible and surprising outcomes of sharing my story was that two former colleagues of mine, Caroline Starr and Ariel Ng Bourbonnais, who also happened to be fellow warriors in this world of miscarriage and infertility, reached out to me and asked if I was interested in joining them on a project to help people share their personal stories—to which I of course agreed. We had each written publicly about our experiences and so it was a natural fit, not only because we connected on a personal level, but we each knew the incredible healing potential and empowerment to be found in sharing these often hidden stories.
When we launched The 16 Percent, named for 16% of those in Canada who struggle with miscarriage and infertility, we weren't entirely sure of what kind of impact it was going to have, and what direction the project was going to take. All we knew, as a group and individually, was that writing and sharing our own stories with miscarriage and infertility, as well as reading the experiences of others who had gone through it before us, had in many ways quite literally saved our lives and kept us from going too far into the depths of despair and we wanted to offer that same opportunity to anyone out there who needed an outlet for their voice and for their experience.
The response we've had since The 16 Percent came to be has been above anything we could have expected. Each week when we post the story of one brave warrior who has decided to tell their story, the amount of support that pours out through our network is incredible. Not only can sharing your own story be cathartic, it can also provide a bit of a roadmap to those walking a similar path. Here are some of the lessons learned in the words of those who have shared their story with us:
I have learned that our story is not something we need to hide or feel ashamed about. We know there is a community of people who have experienced what we have and our candidness helps others cope and navigate through their experiences with infertility/miscarriage. — Alessia
Don’t feel like you owe anyone anything, this is your issue, own it and share it in a way that suits you best and makes you the most comfortable. — Simone
I hope that I’ve become more understanding and sympathetic to those struggling with infertility, I don’t ask the same questions I used to, realizing now how insensitive and triggering it might have been. I appreciate the time I have with family and friends and we welcome opportunities to travel and show her the world. — Natalie
I have learned that people don’t talk about infertility because there is no open platform for it and people don’t know how to respond to infertility. The process is so much harder than I imagined and a part of me will forever be broken. The process has also made me realize that, for me, it may not be about genetics anymore. I wanted a “mini-me” but I am realizing that there is more than that. Connections can be made and are just as strong without biology. — Sophia
I try and hold on to the fact that it was not my fault and that there was nothing I did or did not do that would have changed the outcome. I also find that sharing how I feel with my husband helps me acknowledge those feelings out loud, allowing them to pass easier. — Janice
As much as I try to put a positive spin on it, it made me a bit darker. I hope this isn’t a permanent change. Going through the process, I felt a lot of despair. But I feel like I’m coming out of it now and starting to get lighter and back to my normal self, which feels pretty damn good. — Carly
It is not the genes I am grieving, but the peace. I am mourning the time and the pain and the hope that I will become a mother in the next 9 months. Or the 9 months after that. Or the 9 months after that. I am mourning the lost bit of living I feel like I have missed out on... — Wendy
I now appreciate that having your own children is not everyone's reality, that grief doesn't have a timeline and that you have the right to cope in any way you see fit. — Frannie
It has made me realize how strong I really am, that there is no mountain too high for me. That despite all that I had against me, I have this little girl who looks at me like I am superwoman! — Jaclyn
I learned a lot about my body. You don’t realize how much goes into making a baby until you can’t do what we “should” be biologically programmed to do. You spend all of this time as a teenager learning how NOT to get pregnant but suddenly you end up in this world where you are trying to make it happen and you don’t know how. I am now a big fan of cycle tracking, not only to get pregnant, but to understand what is happening (or not happening in my case) with my body. — Nicole
I want you all to understand some things I learned from this 8-year journey. I learned that you are no more or no less when you have a child. Children don’t define who you are. You do. Life is no more or no less when you have a child. It’s just different and different isn’t bad, it’s just different. — Michelle
I now find the process of revealing my innermost thoughts to be cathartic. Some thoughts I have been holding onto for far too long, scared of having to really feel my emotions but I need to now face these fears and emotions and possibly knowing someone else out there can relate or find solace in my words makes it worth it. — Erica
That every single experience is individual. There are no right or wrong ways in how to handle infertility and loss, you just have to do what’s best for you. I’ve also learned that not everyone will understand what you are going through and that’s perfectly okay as well; it’s not for them. — Michelle
The body makes no sense, and there’s no sense in trying to make sense of the body. Doing whatever you need to do to feel okay in your skin after a miscarriage is 100% okay, and no one should tell you otherwise. You have to cope how you can. — Lauren
We receive messages from people who say that they are in the midst of going through a miscarriage, or traveling down the long road of fertility treatment and that reading the stories on our site is the only thing getting them through the day, or is giving them the courage to hold on to hope. Every time we receive one of these messages its confirmation that what we are doing is important and that we need to keep going.
If you are in the midst of walking down this road and are feeling pulled to share your story, we would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org; if you are feeling isolated and alone in your experience, we would encourage you to visit our site and read through the stories we’ve posted to hopefully find support in the idea that in some way, shape or form, we are all connected on this path.