Bubbly actress Ashley Williams is known for being Jim Gaffigan’s TV wife and Kimberly Williams Paisley’s real-life sister, but now the actress is known for something even more powerful: speaking out about miscarriage. Williams, who is the mother of a toddler son, was taken aback by her own miscarriage and by the fact that before having one, she had been so uninformed about them. The reason? Because despite the fact that they are incredibly common, with about 25% of pregnancies ending that way, very few of us talk about our miscarriages.
In a moving essay for the Human Development Project entitled, I Need to Talk About My Miscarriage, Williams gives us a heart-wrenching look into her personal loss. She says she was at Whole Foods with her toddler on her hip, about to indulge in a pizza craving at 8 weeks pregnant when it suddenly hit her.
Ashley Williams and her son Gus, via @Imthesmash on Instagram
Eight weeks into my second pregnancy, I was craving calories and celebrated my discomfort. I’d been taught in my training as a doula that pain can be productive, and I had an instinct that the cramps I had been feeling all morning were miraculous evidence of new life. I tried to smile. The baby is nesting today. And, this kid’s powerful. Then I felt something on my leg.
A heavy, dark, and slow stream of blood made its way down my left inner thigh. Without thinking, I swiped it. My fingertips came up wet. “What’s that?” Gus inquired, pointing to my hand.
Shocked, Williams now saw that her shorts were soaked with blood, and texted her husband to come home from work. She was in the throes of a miscarriage, and she never saw it coming. She goes on to explain,
If 25 percent of my peers are currently experiencing miscarriages right alongside me, why wasn’t I prepared? Why don’t we talk about it? Why was I feeling embarrassed, broken, like a walking wound? I live on the Upper West Side, the new stroller capital of Manhattan. How many other women have experienced a miscarriage in that very same Whole Foods?
As Williams reached out to friends, telling them of her loss, she was astounded by how many of them revealed that they, too had miscarried. But when she asked if they talked about it to others, the answer was almost always, “no”—and Williams’ theory on why that is makes a TON of sense.
My (still bloated) gut feeling is that something even more painful silences us — the fear that we, as women, are failures. Procreation, the driving purpose in our constructed notion of womanhood, is broken by this sudden trauma…I gave birth to Gus on the living room floor, a planned home birth, with no medication. I am a badass woman. I am strong. My miscarriage, however, decimated my confidence.
I must admit I think Williams hit the nail on the head with this one. Miscarriages ARE incredibly common, but often women who have had them view them not as a natural, 1-in-4 loss, but as an unforgettable mark of personal failure. Miscarriage is tragic, but it is NOT a cause for shame, and we can only help ourselves AND each other by talking about them.
Emboldened by her experience, Williams is urging moms to do just that: speak out. She says we need to TELL someone, whether a close friend or relative, or even the Starbucks barista who’s giving you that extra shot to help you through your loss. She says women who have miscarried, can become “a vocal army of the 25 percenters who can normalize miscarriage in the social sphere.” Calling herself a “survivor,” she invites other moms to be survivors, too. And I think she’s spot on.
Are you one the 25 percenters who have experienced miscarriage? Do you talk about it openly? Why or why not?