Today I am choosing to share my story not for your sympathy or pity. Not because I want you to feel bad or sorry for me. I write my story because we need to talk about the hard things. I write this story because I was completely unequipped and uninformed about miscarriage. I write this because oftentimes the things we automatically assume bring lots of joy, like the holidays and a first-time pregnancy, can bring a lot of pain instead. I write this because the one thing that continues to give me hope in this dark time are the brave women who shared their own personal stories of miscarriage with me – unashamed, strong and raw. I share my story in hopes of doing the same for you.    

From November 14th, 2019, the day I received so joyously my positive pregnancy test, to today, I have had a lot of time to reflect. I am grieving. I am processing. This is now a part of my story. I choose to believe that in all trials and challenges there is always a lesson. 

Somewhat luckily from my personal experience, I have found five:

1. I control nothing

I love control. It makes me feel safe. Without it I feel overwhelm and anxiety. Having done everything right, with zero signs of a problem present, this experience has taught me to surrender. Surrender to the questions we will never have an answer for. Surrender to the chaos of uncertainty. And surrender to life because to believe I was ever, really, in control, is unreal. I’m finding peace in the transformational act of surrender.

2. There is power in sharing your voice and your story

It’s ironic. I’ve made it my life purpose to help women find and share their voice so they can live their potential. Yet here I am, so absolutely terrified of what people will think of me for speaking up, and of who I will make uncomfortable by sharing my story. Terrified of your reactions and judgment. When I first had the idea to publically share, I was overwhelmed by the instant flood of what I can only simply describe as the “sit down, be quiet and don’t cause a fuss” mentality society raises in our little girls. Knowing it was the brave women who cried with me, spoke up, and broke the brick wall of shame and stigma by sharing their personal stories made my decision clear. By speaking up, I can play a part, whether big or small, in breaking the silent epidemic and show the world just how united we all really are. I’ve already felt the transformation inside of me in owning my story. I hope you too can find the power in owning yours, whatever it might be. 

3. I learned to “embrace the suck” 

I used to think I wasn’t a very emotional person. While working in mental health I realized pretty quickly I was actually a VERY emotional person, I was just really good at hiding mine. I remember setting the intention before knowing I was pregnant that I wanted to live more from my heart than my head. Careful what you wish for! The past few months have been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. Seeing pregnancy announcements, spending time with babies and pregnant friends I never knew one could feel both joy and deep sorrow all at once. I’ve learned to allow myself to FEEL. I used to thrive on only feeling “good” positive emotions. I walked around like a positive boot camp officer, throwing positive quotes and lessons around like orders meant to whip people into an “acceptable” state. Now I truly understand the value in creating space for all of our emotions. “Embrace the suck,” and getting curious, instead of judgmental, with myself has been freeing. I’m just a human and I’m not perfect. There are no bad emotions. By allowing myself to feel I am also allowing myself to heal. I’ve also learned to step into the hard conversations and uncomfortable situations with more grace. I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve and feel deep in my heart that this newfound vulnerability brings with it the strength and courage I will need to live my most authentic, impactful life. 

4. There is so much power in holding space and practicing empathy

Sympathy vs Empathy by Brene Brown. Watch it. I can’t tell you how hurtful an “at least” comment is. “At least you got pregnant!” “At least you are still young.” “At least you can try again.” Or how guilty and lonely it feels to share the hard stuff with someone, only to be responded with the same positive “It’ll all be alright” mentality I used to push. It will all be alright. I know this. But this isn’t what we need in that moment of hardship. As a facilitator and trainer in mental health topics, this experience has truly solidified my understanding of the power of holding space for someone and meeting people where they are at. Just listening. I mean really listen. Listen to hear, not to respond. BE WITH. I’m not looking for you to solve the issue or bring me hope. I just need to feel seen, heard and valued for who I am. I can say by letting go of my old positive boot-camp officer like demeanor, my interactions are much different. I can listen with more depth and feel with the person in front of me in a whole new way because I have first created the space for me to feel those same, difficult emotions.

Some beautiful texts I received that are a shining example of empathy:

“I can’t pretend to be able to relate so I just want to be here for you in any way you need. What does support look like for you right now?”

 “I’m not even going to go into a whole speech. I’m going just be right here with you and love you through this. We’re going to get through this.”

A very special thank you to the friends and family members who have shown up, listened and practiced the very hard and vulnerable task of truly being with someone in the hard. I love you. 

5. This loss has brought a newfound depth to my relationships

It is so hard to ask for help. I hate it. It feels silly, exposed, and in my controlling, perfectionist world (though I hate to admit it) – weak. But it’s not. Asking for help and allowing people in is empowering. My miscarriage, though completely heartbreaking, has brought a sincere and raw depth to both long-lasting and newfound relationships. I’ve watched women break down just at the word “miscarriage”. By opening up with a stranger, I unintentionally opened up space for her to meet me with her story. Never have I felt so deeply connected to humanity before. 

Someone recently asked me, “what if your miscarriage is a gift?” 
I was caught so off guard by her innocent yet profound question.
….what if my miscarriage is a gift?
I’m not sure I’d confidently answer yes… yet. What I do know is this. 

Having a miscarriage has broken my heart wide open and inadvertently, brought in so much love and light. I now have the capacity to feel immense sorrow and overwhelming love, simultaneously. I’m not in control, and that is ok. Whether with best friends or strangers, stories and experiences unite us when we create the space to listen, be with, and authentically share. 

My experience, my story, is shaping me to be the very best version of me and I will always be grateful for this.

Stephanie Courtillier,

Founder, Integrous Women