Sunday, January 27, 2013

Of pregnancy loss, privacy & politics

She was not elected the Liberal Party leader in the province of Ontario this past weekend (& thus will not automatically become Ontario's first female premier). (The leadership was won by another woman, Kathleen Wynne -- who not only became the first female premier but also the first one who is openly gay.) 

I didn't follow the race that closely, and had no strong opinion on the matter -- other than thinking (a) that it was pretty cool that, one way or another, we were likely to wind up with a female premier (at last!) & (b) isn't it too often the way, the only time a political party ever hands over the reins of power to a woman, it's when things can't get much worse for them anyway? 

But I was reminded when reading this profile of leadership candidate & runner up Sandra Pupatello that perhaps it might have been nice to have a political leader who has an intimate understanding of the heartache of infertility, pregnancy loss and involuntary childlessness.:
She’s also known heartache. 
In October 2003, there was a stunning story in the Toronto Star that Pupatello was four months pregnant after seven miscarriages over 13 years. The story resonated because it seemed so painfully private. This was her fourth attempt using in vitro fertilization. While she was over the moon, she hadn’t wanted it publicized, but Star reporter Richard Brennan guessed. He’d known her forever and urged her to let people know about her “miracle.” 
She later miscarried.  
“It changes you,” she says. “It knocks anything other than modesty right out of your system. You have to go through tough things in order to understand other people’s pain. There are things you can’t control and you have to let go.” 
She’s thrown herself into being a good Italian zia to her brother Walter’s three children, taking them to Queen’s Park and acting like a second mother.

I remember reading that 2003 story about Pupatello's pregnancy and previous miscarriages. I already knew she was "one of us" in that respect -- someone I knew through our pg loss support group knew her, knew her story and had tried, unsuccessfully, to enlist her support for our organization. 

But I didn't know she had also lost that baby too. And I didn't realize the story behind the story, either. I feel badly for her -- not just for all her losses, but also because (a bit like Kate Middleton), she was pressured to bare her soul and tell her story and talk about her pregnancy before she was really ready to do so.

The cynical journalist in me realizes that reporter knew a good human interest story when he saw it. (I wonder how he felt later.) The cynical deadbabymama in me also thinks that only someone who has never been through infertility, &/or never lost a pregnancy, could think it was OK for someone who was just four months pregnant, after seven previous losses and four IVFs over 13 years, to talk publicly about "miracles."  Ahh, the innocence of the uninitiated...


  1. Reading this gave me chills. The familiar chills I've experienced when reading about someone who has battled so much and is such a strong person. But also the chills of someone who has experienced loss, knowing how hard it is to open up about something so devastating to someone who clearly doesn't understand.

    I think you're absolutely right. I can't imagine that someone who had been through loss would have pushed her to share her story until she was ready to (especially when only 4 months pregnant).

  2. Loribeth, we hear so little of Canadian politics here, so it is always interesting to hear your take on it, especially of course when there is a story of infertility, loss and the decision to walk the road less travelled.

    At least, as non-public figures, it has been easier for all of us to protect our privacy when we have wanted or needed to.

  3. One of my SILs had to announce her pregnancy very early and hurriedly due to family members (not mine!) thoughtlessly gossiping on her FB wall. This SIL experienced two miscarriages, including a partial molar pregnancy, and she did not want to announce it so early. My grandmother got upset that SIL announced it on FB without first calling her, so in addition to throwing up every hour during all of Christmas week, SIL also had to deal with a major guilt trip.

    (I would compare this with the Duchess of Cambridge, but SIL also has hyperesmesis gravidarum and is tired of hearing about Kate Middleton!)

  4. At times, journalists seems no more admirable than the paparazzi, invading another person's privacy, pushing them into a spotlight they aren't willingly walking into.