Saturday, October 3, 2020

Out of the shadows

I don't (or didn't, until now) follow Chrissy Teigen on social media (in fact, I was only dimly aware of who she was), but I understand she's been very open about her struggles with infertility. My heart went out to her when I learned that she & her husband John Legend had lost their baby son this past week. Her Instagram post announcing their loss, full of words of raw pain and stark black & white images from the hospital, went viral. 

"Driving home from the hospital with no baby,” Teigen wrote on Twitter. “How can this be real.” How well I remember that surreal, empty feeling. I don't normally post much about ALI issues or my childlessness on social media, but I shared the story of Teigen's loss. Another loss mom commented with her own memory of leaving the hospital with empty arms, and in response I wrote: 

I was at Mount Sinai Hospital... and we left on a Saturday. It was eerily quiet & empty compared to being there on a weekday. As a nod to the Jewish patients & staff, the elevator stopped on EVERY SINGLE FLOOR on the way down (so that nobody would have to push buttons/work on the Sabbath). The ride down from the 7th floor seemed endless...

I was kind of shocked when people started reacting to my reply to the comment, as well as to the original post itself. After 22 years, I still haven't shared many details of my experience with people outside of our support group/ALI online circles. I don't want to hammer the fortunately ignorant over the head with my story... but I realized after the reactions started coming in that little details like that one might help people to understand a little more fully.   

Coincidentally, Teigen's news came early on Thursday morning -- the first day of October, which is also the first day of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. Because of Teigen & Legend's celebrity, and their openness about what they are going through, many media outlets not only picked up on their personal story but used it as a springboard for a broader discussion about pregnancy loss -- which, of course, affects at least 1 in 4 women. Here are a couple that I noted:  

  • The CBC's national news telecast that night had a story about Teigen and pregnancy loss generally, including interviews with Canadian loss moms. It's less than 2 minutes long, but they manage to cram a lot in there. The doctor interviewed in the story, was the doctor on duty the morning after I delivered Katie. He's an expert in placental issues and expressed an interest in examining mine. (I don't think it was ever done.) I was determined to get a referral to his placenta clinic for my next pregnancy. Which of course never happened...
  • Ann Douglas is Canada's pre-eminent expert on pregnancy & parenting. She also happens to be a bereaved mom:  her daughter Laura was stillborn in 1996.  I "met" Ann online (and later "in real life") through an email list for bereaved moms that we both belonged to, and I took part in the parent panels for her books "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books" (in the section about pregnancy loss) and "Trying Again."  Ann spoke with CBC Radio Toronto's Metro Morning program on Friday about Chrissy Teigen's loss, her own loss and pregnancy loss generally, including how things have changed in the 24 years since she lost her daughter. She crammed a lot of wisdom into just a few minutes. It's worth a listen! 
  • My longtime penpal in New Zealand posted a story that also used Teigen's story as a starting point for a discussion about the silence that surrounds pregnancy loss. Also worth a read
  • The Globe & Mail's "Amplify" feature also focused on Chrissy Teigen and bringing pregnancy loss out of the shadows. 


  1. There's also this one: "Why do people say such mean things about miscarriage and pregnancy loss?"

  2. And this one (via Anne Helen Petersen's newsletter):

  3. Thanks for these. I am glad you got acknowledgement for your comment - I hope it helped you, and I am certain it helped others.

  4. Thanks for the great links! I have enjoyed Chrissy Teigen and also been been annoyed with her (when she announced their pregnancy, which was spontaneous after IVF rounds, she said to PEOPLE magazine, "It's true, when you stop thinking and trying it just happens" -- ugh. Also they sold their 8,520 sq ft, 7-bedroom home because they "want a house they can grow into.")

    BUT, I absolutely love her raw honesty, and her choice to share something so personal and so painful. I found her photos beautiful and haunting. I don't understand those who were like, "why would you share that?" -- probably the same people who post their ultrasound photos and baby photos ad nauseum. I did see quite a few people share their stories of loss, because they felt like a door had been opened.

    I'm glad you shared your comment, and you received support and probably helped open that door for others who keep their losses deep inside but couple also receive support and validation for their pain, and feel less lonely.


    1. The comment about wanting a house to grow into (because obviously, 8500+ sq ft is WAY too tiny...!) reminds me of a woman I met at a party here a while back (a friend of the hostess)... tanned, well dressed, Louis Vuitton purse with a tiny dog inside of it (!). She was talking about how they had just "downsized" and without thinking I opened my big mouth and said, "Oh, we just sold our house & downsized to an 874-square-foot condo." Turns out her "downsized" house was "only" 4000 square feet. Oy. :p