Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I found out that I miscarried earlier this week at a routine office visit. This was quite a shock because we had two ultrasounds before this showing a strong heartbeat and that the baby was growing correctly. While we hadn’t announced publicly, we had told family and close friends.
We now are in the unfortunate process of “un-announcing” and I have found that many of our family and friends are trying to figure out why this happened. My family and my in-laws have been blessed with many easy pregnancies and never a pregnancy loss. When we explain that it was most likely chromosome abnormalities and things we had no control over, which is what our doctors said, people find it hard to believe and start suggesting things we (or specifically I) did — my weight, my exercise, my autoimmune diseases.
I am having a hard enough time dealing with the loss and the physical aspect of the miscarriage; I really don’t want to hear their theories — theories that my doctors all said specifically did not cause this.
Do you have any suggestions on what to say to let them know that this is off the table, that it was not my fault, and blaming me is absolutely not productive?
They’re dealing with your grief by blaming you?
And yeah, that’s what it’s called when you attribute a miscarriage to some trait or behavior of the mother. Surely you’ve heard or thought some of these?: She’s exercising too much, she’s overweight, she’s too skinny, her diet’s too restricted, she’s too stressed out and if she’d just relax/slim down/eat real food/relax then it would happen.
People, please — don’t do this.
I realize not everyone is informed on miscarriage rates and causes because the lucky ones have no reason to get informed — but when they allow their ignorance to hurt someone, then it does reflect poorly on them, even when it’s intended as a show of concern.
Certainly some theorizing is just that, an effort to help or just to say the right thing. But when 30 seconds of thought would likely tell a theorizer, “Hmm, if I link it to her autoimmune disease, then that could be seen as blaming her and that’s the last thing she needs,” that claim doesn’t fly as an excuse.
So here’s one thing to say: “Miscarriage happens in 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies, and usually is not related to the parents’ health.”
You can also say, “This is not open for discussion. It was not my fault, and blaming me is absolutely not productive,” but this elaboration might open you to a response of, “Oh we weren’t blaming you blah blah blah,” which you also don’t need.
Either way, you can bow out of these theory-fests. “Excuse me — this is painful to talk about. (Exit room.)”
Do not, do not, do not try to explain, even if it’s just to quote your doctors. They explained chromosome abnormalities to help you process the information, not to give you something to feed your critics.
I’m sorry for your loss.
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