Very obvious content note for death, loss, stillbirth and miscarriages.
Last week, celebrity couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost their third child to a pregnancy complication, because all the fame and money in the world can sometimes not make a pregnancy safe. Teigen, who is a very outgoing person who shares lots of her personal and family life on Twitter also shared about her loss.
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) October 1, 2020
Accompanied by a black and white picture of herself in hospital she talks about her pain, her loss and her love for her child who couldn’t be saved. The world and the internet being what it is, she was both accused of being a hypocrite for being a staunch pro choice woman, but still mourning the loss of her child, and of milking the death of her child for cheap publicity by posting about it.
Of course you’ve got to have some deep seated hatred of women if you believe that the lady who kept tweeting about being pregnant for months, happy and proud, would just use a life threatening pregnancy complication that resulted in the loss of her child for publicity, because obviously women are heartless shallow creatures devoid of real feelings or something.
But however you would personally feel about making your loss public on social media, by doing so herself, Teigen gave others a great gift: The permission to mourn. Because miscarriages and stillbirths are still hushed in our societies. If you tell people you’re expecting, they’ll tell you you shouldn’t say anything before those critical first three months are over, because…
Well, because what exactly? It’s not like the words leaving your mouth will retroactively curse the embryo with a genetic condition incompatible with life, or suddenly make your thyroid stop working so your body won’t carry the healthiest of embryos to term. Biology doesn’t work like that. The reason you’re not supposed to talk about it is because people would like to pretend it doesn’t happen. This, ironically but not unexpectedly, rather logically, includes the very same people accusing Teigen to be a hypocrite for being pro choice. If you pretend that a fertilised egg is the same, no more important than a six years old, then you mustn’t face the reality that most fertilised eggs never even implant, and that of those that implant a large number will still not make it past the three months mark, and that of those who make it past that mark some will still not result in a living baby.
The result of this is that women and others who lose wanted pregnancies are shushed up, their feelings are denied and their need to mourn is ignored. While Germany still has some very restrictive anti abortion laws, it’s only been a couple of years since people were allowed to bury their stillborn if it weighed less than a kilogram, which included fetuses up to the eighth month of pregnancy. While the day before you were forced to carry “your unborn baby” to term whether you wanted or not, suddenly there was no baby, just clinical waste.
Emotions around pregnancies are complicated, because they are tied to so many concepts in our societies. From the idea that this is the ultimate test of femaleness (even for people who are not, you know, women), over the idea that this is your duty, to the fact that it can also be your greatest desire. For everybody who can get pregnant and who has sex that could get them pregnant, the idea of a pregnancy hangs over our heads. Depending on how you’re personally feeling, it can be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the albatross around your neck. Being able to talk freely about all those emotions is important. This must include the ability to say “I am devastated for losing a pregnancy/not becoming pregnant” and also using terms like “baby” which denotes an emotional attachment, but also the ability to say “I will never ever again consent to being pregnant”. Because yours truly has done both, and I’ve been hurt both times by people who tried to deny the validity of my feelings and position. Occasionally by the same people. Because apparently at ten weeks it’s both a baby if you don’t want to be pregnant, and just an error of nature if you want to be pregnant but lose the pregnancy. Fuck that shit.