I recently had the pleasure of connecting with a fellow mom, Soraya, to learn about her journey to motherhood. Soraya knows firsthand the traumatic experience of miscarriages and postpartum depression, and I’m grateful for her transparency and willingness to share her story.
Can you tell me about yourself?
I am a 40-year-old wife, and mom of a 4-year-old son. I have been a healthcare administrator for over 15 years - primarily in Maternal Child Health and Pediatrics.
Can you tell me about your journey to motherhood?
My husband and I married in 2013, we were already in our early 30’s. We had three miscarriages before having our son in 2016. My pregnancy with my son was peaceful and he was born healthy at 38 weeks. We thought our string of miscarriages was over. However, when my son turned two we were pregnant again and lost the baby. We have since had two additional miscarriages, the last one in February of this year.
I have had many tests taken and we only have had one miscarriage that supplied us with any answers to why we were experiencing recurrent miscarriages. After my last one, I went into a depression. I felt the gravity of all the losses we had. I knew for me that this was it.
I don’t think many people know how common miscarriages are for women. 15-20% of pregnancies in the US end in miscarriage and the number is likely higher because they occur in the early first trimester. It’s like a secret shame many of us have endured but don’t speak on. It especially hurts when family members and friends ask if you want more children or consistently ask about pregnancy.
Did you experience embarrassment or felt shame? If so, why?
I definitely felt ashamed like I was broken and in truth, people react to you that way without knowing your journey. Especially when I say I have had more than one miscarriage.
Were you open about your experience with friends and family?
No, my husband and I didn’t always share when we got pregnant because we were always afraid. With my son, we didn’t tell our families until I was four months along. So with the miscarriages, it would be months if I told anyone. Often just living and suffering in it silently.
When you did share with family and friends did you feel supported?
I realize that people who love you would never shame you and also loss of any kind is hard to process. As I’m becoming more transparent about our struggles my friends especially have rallied around me. I wish I would have leaned on them earlier at the beginning of our struggles.
What would you like to change about the conversation regarding postpartum or miscarriages?
That women who suffer miscarriages and post postpartum depression should not feel shame. That they know they are not alone and there is no stigma. That we are more open about the loss or the feelings of depression after giving birth. There is definitely a 4th trimester after giving birth full of hormones, lack of sleep, and recovery. Even with miscarriages, there is a period of trying to get back to normal physically and emotionally.
Why do you think there’s a stigma regarding such a common occurrence?
I think the idea is that it’s easy to get pregnant. When people see a positive pregnancy test they don’t image it ending in a loss. So when it does, especially for women, the feeling is often like I didn’t measure up to my biological duty or why is it so hard for me to conceive. I also think so many people automatically think it’s the fault of the woman.
What advice would you give other women going through the same challenges you went through?
Advocate for yourself. Get the answers and options you need to make informed decisions about your fertility journey.
What, if anything, helped you heal from your experience?
My family (husband, son, our dog). Them letting me feel how I felt and giving me the autonomy to grieve in the ways I needed to. Also, therapy really helped me get into a better space.
What have you learned about yourself while on your road to recovery?
I’ve learned that if I don’t practice self-care and pour into myself it’s impossible to do that for my family without burning out. It’s easier said than done but just starting with little things can make a big impact. I took up gardening during quarantine and not only have I begun to grow my own veggies and herbs - it’s relaxing. I read a quote that was like “Motherhood is the greatest and toughest hood you will ever be in” and I 100% agree, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.