I’ve invented a new drinking game. Here’s how to play: If you’ve had a miscarriage, take a shot.
If you’ve had more than one miscarriage, take another shot.
Three or more miscarriages, take another shot, and try not to blackout under the table.
So. Are we all drunk enough to have a real, honest talk about miscarriage? Good. Because it’s time.
In the fall of 2011, I accidentally got pregnant. How it happened, aside from the actual biology stuff, was a total cliche. We attended the wedding of a good friend, I got totally wasted thanks to the top shelf open bar, and five weeks later I was face down in my toilet praying that I just had food poisoning. Ten positive pregnancy tests later led me to believe that I was, in fact, in the family way.
As I’ve mentioned several times here on the ol’ blog, I was not exactly gung-ho about having kids. I was still very involved in pursuing a dead-end career in stand-up comedy, and we were so broke that the first of every month usually had us scraping together spare change to come up with rent money. It wasn’t exactly the ideal situation for parenthood. Nevertheless, I figured that 35 was a little bit past the acceptable age for the Planned Parenthood route (side note: shouldn’t it really be called Unplanned Parenthood?), and I resigned myself to impending Motherhood.
Eight weeks later, exactly one day after announcing our joyous news to our immediate family, I had a miscarriage. I’ll spare you the details – it started with horrible cramping and ended with me dressed in a paper gown sobbing in front of an ultrasound technician – but it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience. Except for one thing: I never would’ve realized how much I really wanted kids if it wasn’t for that miscarriage.
What I wish I’d known back in 2011 is how common it is to have a miscarriage. Oh, I read about the statistics, and my OB told me that they happen all the time, but I only knew one friend who’d experienced the same thing. Whenever I did try to talk to other people about what happened, people reacted with horror, and attempted to change the subject, as though by mentioning my experience I might somehow infect them with my bad genes or faulty uterus. One friend even sat across from me at a restaurant and, while nursing her newborn, told me that the reason I had a miscarriage was because I was too skinny and didn’t have the right body for “bearing precious children.” Don’t worry, I made her pay for lunch.
Since then, I’ve met so many women, mostly fellow Moms, who’ve also had miscarriages. We’ve shared our war stories, and talked about how we all despaired of ever having children, and how scared we were when we did get pregnant again. There’s no talking in whispers, or placing blame, but rather a frank and honest discussion about what happened and the emotional toll it can take on a person and a relationship.
I think, finally, the tide is turning, and people are being more open about miscarriage. Maybe it’s all due to Mark Zuckerberg, though if that’s the case, the feminist in me feels rather indignant that it’s only thanks to a man that it’s no longer a taboo subject. Whatever the reason, be it Mark Zuckerberg or Maker’s Mark, let’s keep talking and sharing our experiences, so that no one else feels alone or at fault for what essentially amounts to a genetic roll of the dice.
Maybe someday talking about miscarriage will be as run-of-the-mill as mentioning what kind of car one drives, or whether or not someone has any pets. Until then, there’s always alcohol.