Mark Zuckerberg would appear to be one of the most fortunate men alive. He’s only 31 and is incredibly successful, as well as being married to doctor and educator Priscilla. Recently, however, the Facebook founder made an announcement that made many realise just how human he is: when announcing that he and his wife are expecting a baby girl, he added that they’d experienced the trauma of three miscarriages on their journey to parenthood.He made the statement on his Facebook page, and, before you accuse him of “over-sharing”, that was exactly his intention, to highlight the intense pain many people feel when going through a miscarriage and the ways in which society can marginalise that pain.
Zuckerberg said that they’d been trying to have a baby for a couple of years and they’d had the miscarriages during this time:
“You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child. You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you -- as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.
In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.
When we started talking to our friends, we realized how frequently this happened -- that many people we knew had similar issues and that nearly all had healthy children after all.
We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well.”
Common to many, hidden from most
Approximately one in five confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to WebMD.
It’s not unreasonable, then, to understand why this post struck a chord with so many of Zuckerberg’s 33 million followers on Facebook.
The experience of miscarriage is a shocking leveller: to be taken from the high of expecting a baby to the confusion of an unanticipated loss can cause many couples to lose their bearings. The “loneliness” her refers to is vivid; the pregnancy may now be common knowledge to friends and family, it can feel inappropriate to announce a miscarriage in public, and the feelings of failure or guilt can be overwhelming, even though there’s almost nothing that can be done to prevent most miscarriages.
As Mark says, sometimes (even often) couples go on to have healthy babies, but occasionally recurrent miscarriages are part of trying to conceive and the couple may never be able to have a baby.
• If you experience miscarriages, do explore opportunities to share your loss and remember that rather than trying to bring you down, your friends and family will most likely want to be there for you.
• If your friend/family member is experiencing a miscarriage, seek out the most helpful way of being available to that person.