While many people recognize Ashley Williams from How I Met Your Mother and The Jim Gaffigan Show, there's another side to this powerful women that most don't know but many can relate to: that of a grieving mother.
In a raw post for The Human Development Project, Ashley wrote about what happened when she was eight weeks pregnant and started feeling dizzy at Whole Foods while shopping with her 2-year-old son.
Little Gus was nestled on her hip and his 30 pounds seemed to be getting heavier with every step she took as she entered the grocery store — despite the discomfort she was experiencing — to satisfy a pizza craving. "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," Ashley wrote. "I tried to smile. The baby is nesting today. And, this kid's powerful. Then I felt something on my leg."
A dark stream of blood slowly soaked her jean shorts. When Gus noticed the heavy bleeding and asked his mom what the blood was, she simply answered, "That's an emergency." In the days that followed her devastating miscarriage, what surprised Ashley most was not only how unprepared she was for something that happens to 25 percent of her peers but also learning that her friends who endured the same thing never felt able to discuss it.
Why not talk widely about it? One answer may be: Why should I? Not many people talk about a pregnancy until 12 weeks gestation for fear they will lose the baby or choose to terminate for any number of complex reasons. What's the point in telling people who never knew you were pregnant the depressing news that you're not anymore?
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. Medical confirmations of the lost pregnancy from OBs, chiropractors, and my acupuncturist use jargon that feeds more self-sabotaging thoughts that I am deficient. Abnormality… Defect… Incapable… Incomplete… Not viable.
These are hopeless and disempowering diagnoses. 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.
In the above photo, Ashley was seven weeks pregnant. Now, Ashley's goal is to normalize her experience and to get others to feel comfortable discussing their own loss.
I'd love to hear about yours. I believe this it will allow me — and us — to gather hope and strength. As we talk, let's add some of these words into our lexicon: Survivor … Strong … Abundant … Mother … Hope.
Join me, my now-silent sisters. Tell me.
Or maybe tell your Starbucks barista that you need an extra shot because you just had a miscarriage. Tell someone to carry your bags for you, not because you're weak, but because you recently had a miscarriage and you deserve a break. Tell the bartender to make it a double because you haven't wanted to drink alcohol for months and now you're allowed to. "Why?" Your bartender will say.
"Because I'm not pregnant anymore," you'll say. "And I want to talk about it."
I invite you to start, with me, a vocal army of the 25 percenters who can normalize miscarriage in the social sphere. You are not broken. You did nothing wrong. You are strong, you are brave, and there is hope. I was right there next to you at Whole Foods, bleeding out of my shorts. Now I'm well. I'm a survivor. Healed, I will try again.