Meghan Markle has revealed she suffered the ‘almost unbearable grief’ of a miscarriage, laying bare her raw emotions in a bid to shake the stigma of pregnancy loss.
The 39-year-old Duchess of Sussex penned an opinion piece for the New York Times, detailing how she and Prince Harry went through the devastation of losing their second baby last year.
“It was a July morning that began as ordinarily as any other day,” Meghan wrote. “Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib.
“After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.
“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
Meghan explains how, at the end of the couple’s tour of South Africa last year, she was exhausted, breastfeeding and trying to keep a brave face after her loss, under a very public gaze.
“‘Are you OK?’ a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many — new mums and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering. My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.
“‘Thank you for asking,’ I said. ‘Not many people have asked if I’m OK.'”
Meghan explains that opening up conversations is a huge step in the healing process.
“Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heartbreak as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realised that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?’
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few. In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.
“Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same. We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”
Meghan’s powerful essay echoes the sentiments shared by Chrissy Teigen, who recently opened up about losing her third baby at 20 weeks.
If you need support please contact Sands Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Newborn Death Support via 1300 072 637.