Los Angeles based clinical psychologist and writer, Jessica Zucker, has specialised in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health for over a decade. But, it wasn’t until she experienced a 16-week miscarriage firsthand that she could truly grasp the anguish and the circuitousness of grief she had heard her patients speak of. Determined to make a difference to the conversation surrounding, feelings experienced and perceptions of miscarriages, Zucker chose to amplify her voice. As part of this movement, she also created dialogue with other women by using the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage. We sat down with Zucker to hear about her reasons for creating the campaign, what she thinks needs to improve in the motherhood conversation and her hopes for the future.
My miscarriage ultimately gave birth to a passion for changing the way our culture manages pregnancy loss: the silence, the shame, the stigma. In 2012, on the first-ever International Day of the Girl, I miscarried at 16 weeks while home alone. Two years later, still struggling with the sense of loss and isolation surrounding my experience, I penned an essay for the New York Times about my miscarriage, and invited other mothers to share their own stories with the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage. It has been deeply heartening to see women coming out of the woodworks to openly discuss these important and often life-changing experiences. Connecting with women around the world has affected my healing process (and hopeful theirs, too) exponentially. Though I would forfeit my miscarriage for my daughter in a heartbeat, I am profoundly inspired by being a loss mom and addressing these women’s health issues from the inside out.
“Why do women feel so alone, isolated, and badly about themselves when the science clearly states that pregnancy loss is not a fault of their own?”
“The more we share our stories of heartache and hope, the sooner we normalize the pain of grief. With this shift in our cultural narrative, we begin to witness women feeling connected rather than isolated during these life-changing experiences.”
Over the last five years, my name is proudly emboldened in various publications on the topic. When I was ready, I dove in and haven’t stopped since. And I encourage others to do the same, if they are so inclined. My Instagram page is primarily used as a place for others to share stories, both anonymously and by name.
I think it’s interesting to use social media in this way because there’s so much focus on striving for perfection with images on Instagram. There’s something refreshingly real and powerful about showing other perspectives. Women need to know they are not the anomaly. Pregnancy loss occurs too frequently for people to think they are in this alone. Reading other women’s words can provide a healing salve.
Talking about your own pregnancy loss may be difficult, but can also be extremely powerful—it helps you realize you’re not alone and can mitigate some of the shame and guilt that commonly surrounds such an experience. To prepare yourself to open up about your loss(es), take time to reflect on and identify your feelings. Writing, meditation, movement, and being in nature can be especially useful tools for contemplation.
Seeking therapy, support groups, or people in your tribe who you’re comfortable confiding in might also ease the journey through grief. Lean on trusted loved ones who provide understanding. There is no right or wrong way to discuss these things. Just know that you are in control of who you talk to and how—and if you’d prefer to be private about this, feel free.
When a woman talks about miscarriage, she’s not just helping herself; she’s also helping other women feel less alone. It takes unabashed courage to walk the vulnerable line of publicly sharing the experience of pregnancy loss. Upon opening up about our nascent experiences of grief, we often find our tribe. And if a grieving mother can help bring more women into the healing fold, all the better.