Whitney Port: What I Learned From My Miscarriage

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
I am a mother, and I had a miscarriage. Until just recently, I had no idea how common it was for these two seemingly opposite realities to coexist. Having a miscarriage on my second pregnancy unearthed more complex and contrary feelings than I ever could have imagined. It was like emotional whiplash — swinging from one extreme to the other with no foresight into what the next moment would hold.
When I miscarried, I felt fear and anxiety picturing what was happening inside my body. I felt incomparable sadness imagining another version of my little Sonny and wondering what that baby would have been like. I felt relief, and then shame for that relief, and then confusion over that shame. My miscarriage happened at an incredibly high-stress time in my life, and while we would have loved that baby with all of our hearts, I actually felt better when I learned I wasn’t pregnant. I struggled to reckon with what that relief said about me as a person and a mom, and I was afraid to even share those thoughts with my husband.
But perhaps the most unexpected feeling was that of overwhelming guilt. I felt that I had no right to be upset about my miscarriage when so many women can’t get pregnant at all. I already have a healthy child of my own, so I found myself questioning, “Who do I think I am?!” I see now that having a miscarriage — like having a baby — is intensely personal. The fact that I’m already a mom doesn’t make my experience any more or less painful. It was just different. It was my own. And in the end, it gave me empathy and perspective for which I am extremely grateful.
As a mother, it’s hard to even grant myself time to feel feelings because I’m so consumed with life and caring for my child. In some regards, motherhood has forced me to stop worrying as much about the small and personal stuff. But this miscarriage rocked me to my core, and I quickly searched for consolation in others who had experienced the same thing.
I was shocked by how many of my friends had miscarried, and how several only shared their stories with me after I told them about my experience. In one case, I had actually forgotten about a friend’s past miscarriage. I felt completely self-absorbed when she reminded me, and I was surprised by how “normal” miscarriage must have seemed to me when it first happened to her. In another case, a friend simply didn’t talk about it until she realized that her experience may help me cope with mine. Between friends, family, and the thousands of people who reached out after I released a podcast of my story, I’ve found immeasurable peace in solidarity.
A stat from The Mayo Clinic notes, “About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant.” After learning these facts and suffering a miscarriage myself, I was both encouraged for my family’s future and overcome with compassion.
I had no clue how common miscarriage really was, and now I feel compelled to help spread the truth. These big numbers made me realize that no matter how strange my feelings may seem, there must be other people out there who feel the same way. That’s why I think talking about sensitive topics is so important. By joining a conversation, you open yourself up to so many relatable people and stories. Revealing my miscarriage on social media was by far one of the most vulnerable things I’ve ever done. But after seeing firsthand the power of honesty when I revealed my struggle with breastfeeding two years ago, I knew this was something I wanted to do.
Despite all the chaos and negativity on the internet today, I’ve also seen it generate an immense amount of relief and support. If nothing else, social media makes the world smaller, and I enjoy being a part of something that helps connect people in positive ways.
This platform has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, and we should use it to our advantage to break down barriers of silence and shame. If nothing else, speaking up can make someone feel less alone, and I can’t think of a worthier cause for modern technology.
The many people who have been generous enough to share their miscarriage stories with me online have helped me heal faster and grow stronger. Of course, there are also people who disagree with my views, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take in an effort to find unity with so many others. With that being said, I recognize that this “emotional exposure” can seem self-serving, and while it has been personally therapeutic for me, that’s never my goal. I do it because I believe validation and support are basic human needs, and I am lucky enough to be in a position to create safe spaces for them to flourish.

To the many women trying to get pregnant, doing everything “right” and still having miscarriages, I hope you know that it’s not your fault. You’re only human. Your body is not a machine, and just because you can’t give birth doesn’t mean you can’t be a mother. Miscarriage is sometimes just nature’s way of saying that a pregnancy just wasn’t meant to be. So, if you have tried and tried again and are still unable to have a baby, find comfort in the fact that there are many different paths to motherhood. Maybe your journey will lead to adoption, surrogacy, or becoming a mom through other means.
There are so many children looking for wonderful people to adopt them, and that’s an option that I have and continue to consider for my own family. Reflecting back on it now, my miscarriage taught me that parenthood is complicated even before it happens. Our bodies are capable of so much, and when yours doesn’t work according to plan, it can be devastating. But a closed door can also mean an open heart, and that’s the true root of being a mom. So, if I can leave you with a few simple words of advice, they would be to not give up and not blame yourself. Miscarriage does not mean you are any less meant to be a mother.

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