I never imagined I’d be part of a statistic.
But there I was, the day before Mother’s Day, bleeding in the emergency room. Part of the one in four women who experience a miscarriage. A club that I had no interest in joining, yet found myself its newest, reluctant member.
I was just past ten weeks pregnant. Apparently, the embryo had stopped developing at eight and a half weeks. On the Saturday morning, I noticed some light spotting, but my doctor’s office was closed. So I headed for the ER. I went in feeling pretty fine and I remember feeling sorry for the other people in the waiting room. But as the hours went by, I felt like my body was betraying me—I would have done anything to trade places with the man with broken rib or the woman with the stomach flu puking her guts out. I would have done anything and taken any amount of physical pain to avoid the emotional loss.
Nearly 20% of women who experience a miscarriage develop symptoms of depression and anxiety. That sadness goes beyond explanation: it’s a pretty isolating thing to feel like you’re seven months away from bringing a baby into the world and just like that, you’re no longer pregnant. And aside from the physical pain, your emotions surface at aggressive, soul-crushing intervals.
So in dealing with that sadness, a little search down Google will tell you to seek out support groups. Talk with your partner. Talk with friends. That the feelings you will cycle through will mirror that of grief. But the idea is that, the more you talk, the more others will, too. That other women will come forward and share their stories. That you’ll connect in a new way, bridged by heartache.
Illustration via @mariandrew on Instagram
When it happened to me on Mother’s Day, I went against the counsel of my friends and scrolled through Instagram. And while I did see joyful, perfectly art-directed photos of friends squeezing their baby’s juicy thighs, I also came across a post by artist Mari Andrew, who so beautifully and accurately captured some of the left-out groups of women on Mother’s Day. We decided to share that photo on the Knix Instagram account, and the feedback we received from our community took my breath away.
It was that moment when I realized our community had stories to tell. My eyes were officially opened and the way that I looked at the women around me had changed. Almost every woman I could think of had some of kind of experience to share. They were an engaged, outspoken group of warriors and rockstars. Which is when #FacesofFertilty was born.
We wanted to create a safe space for women to freely share their stories surrounding fertility. Whether they didn’t want kids, were struggling with their infertility, had experienced multiple pregnancy losses or had faced the hell of a stillbirth—everyone is touched by fertility in some way.
I’m positive that this campaign will help shift the narrative, and lift some of the shame and silence that cloak these terrible moments in a woman’s fertility journey. I’m also positive that we are living in a very unique time, on the cusp of these conversations making their way into the mainstream, as well as information and options becoming both more affordable and accessible.
The femtech (female technology) industry is bustling, having received an estimated $1.1 billion since 2014, according to CB Insights. From fertility benefit companies like Progyny, to fertility tracking apps like Flo and Clue, to companies like Conceivable that help women get to the root of the fertility problems. The landscape is changing, and it’s changing quickly. It may sound strange, but in the not-so-distant future, I imagine world where a popular graduation gift is freezing your eggs. That’s something slightly more practical than the gold ring I received back in 2001.
Celebrities are helping shift the narrative, too. Everyone from Carrie Underwood to Chrissy Teigen to Beyoncé have gone public with their fertility struggles, posting their stories on Instagram and airing stories that probably never would have been made public ten years ago. Even men are getting involved. James Van Der Beek recently called for a revision on the term miscarriage. In an Instagram post, he wrote “In an insidious way, [miscarriage] suggests fault for the mother - as if she dropped something, or failed to ‘carry.’”
I can tell you first-hand, there’s enough guilt on my plate as it is; guilt about not providing a child for my partner, guilt about focusing my efforts on growing my first baby, my business Knix, and guilt over starting my journey to become a mother “too late” (I’m 34).
But I’m not one to linger in the past. I’m moving forward, hopeful that my story has another ending. And I’m committed to helping other women move forward, too.
Starting today—which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day—on Knix.ca, we are launching a support portal as well as our #FacesofFertility campaign. We have partnered with Inkbox, the Toronto-based semi-permanent tattoo company, to create a custom tattoo for people everywhere to wear with pride and help us reduce the stigma. Until October 31st, for every temporary tattoo purchased, Knix will donate $1 to Fertility Matters Canada, a national organization that empowers Canadians to help reach their reproductive health goals by providing support, awareness, information and education; and promoting equal access to fertility treatments. In the US, we will donate $1 to Resolve, an American non-profit that connects women and couples facing infertility with the resources and support they need.
Not interested in a one to two week temporary tattoo? Post a selfie and share your story. For every story shared with the #FacesofFertility hashtag, Knix will donate $1 to RESOLVE and Fertility Matters Canada. I hope you’ll join us as we work to knix the stigma around this topic and to help women everywhere understand that they are not alone.