Trigger warning: This article addresses pregnancy and infant loss, and may be upsetting for some readers.
I woke up this morning, checked my phone and felt an immediate gut-punch as I saw the news: Chrissy Teigen's pregnancy has ended in loss.
I have never met Teigen, but like so many mothers today, I find myself feeling deeply sad for her. As a midwife, I have held the hands of women as they experienced the unimaginable grief of a lost pregnancy or child. There is a despairing sorrow that starts in your core and wraps its way around your body and your heart, like unwelcome vines weaving around a tree that is gasping for sunlight.
It is unimaginable and awful—and I speak for everyone at Motherly when I say that we are profoundly sorry for her loss, and for anyone who is reminded of their own losses today.
Teigen has been incredibly open with her story. She's shared the surprise of a positive pregnancy test after conceiving two children via IVF. She told us about her placenta complications which resulted in bed rest. And now, she has shared her devastating news of losing Jack—her very loved third baby.
That Teigen has chosen to share her story with the world is incredibly powerful.
Teigen is helping to remind people that loss is deeply personal, and can be expressed in so many different ways. Some people feel better sharing, some prefer to be very private, and others fall somewhere in between—and it is all okay.
Miscarriage is common, impacting one of four pregnancies—this means that we have all either had a loss ourselves or know someone who has. It is an unfortunate aspect of our culture that stigma has made some people feel ashamed of their loss. Public stories like Teigen's help to combat that.
To be very clear, being a part of a culture shift is not the responsibility or obligation of grieving people.
And that is the biggest lesson for us here. There are no rules around grief. There is no right or wrong. When we feel upset by the way someone else responds to their own tragedies, the onus is on us, not them, to readjust. We don't have to agree, but we absolutely cannot criticize.
Let's please remember what our role is as the bystanders: When a mother has a miscarriage or infant loss, our job is to cloak her in nurturing love and support—in whatever way she needs. It is not fair to project our own emotions onto her. If she makes different choices than you would have made, simply say to yourself, "She is processing this in the best way for her, just like I would process it in the best way for me."
(If you are wondering how to best support a loved one—or a celebrity—going through a loss, here is what to say when your friend has a miscarriage.)
If you have had a loss yourself, you may be having a hard day—seeing this story in the news can be triggering and difficult. I just want you to know that that's okay and normal. Just like Teigen, your journey is yours. Grief is winding. You are loved and held. Please remember to reach out to a therapist for support if you need it.
Lastly, I wanted to share a love note with you that I wrote in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, in case it is of service to you on this trying day:
Oh, my darling.
Though I am not sure of the details that led you to this chapter in the book, I am fairly sure you wish you weren't here right now.
No matter the reason that brings you here, your heart is heavy, and your mind is consumed. I want nothing more than to be able to cocoon you in comfort and surround you with love. And you, well, you want so many things that seem impossibly out of reach right now. Answers, the ability to sleep, eyes that don't feel swollen from crying, a glimpse into the future that feels light instead of dark.
Most, if not all, of those things will happen in time. In these heartbreaking moments, and in many challenging moments of life, I remember this idea from Ajahn Chah, a Thai Buddhist monk: Right now, it's like this.
And it's okay to be in it. The sadness, the anger, the resentment, the disappointment— whatever emotions are ripping through you right now. No emotion is wrong or unjustified. In fact, you don't need to justify anything you are feeling.
This loss is a part of your motherhood journey. Because motherhood is all of it. It is daydreaming of your future children when you're a little girl. It's the shock and joy of a positive pregnancy test. It is the bitter, heart-wrenching agony of a miscarriage. It is grief and healing. It is hope. And ultimately, it is love.
So, if it feels right (and only if it feels right), go ahead and love the pregnancy that ended. And love yourself, deeply.
The reasons you find yourself in these pages are yours to know. The grief that you feel right now feels lonely and all-encompassing. But in that grief, you are connected to women across generations and continents who are on this journey with you. While you heal, know that we are all holding you.
P.S. Sometimes miscarriage comes with other feelings, besides sadness. Perhaps your pregnancy was unplanned, and you were feeling ambivalent or upset about it, and maybe contemplating your options.
It is possible that for you, miscarriage comes as a relief, which may make you feel good, or guilty, or both. I want to make sure you know that we are holding space for you, too. There is no one set of emotions that are valid during a miscarriage. They are all valid, and you are worthy.