Why I Ignore the Miscarriage Stigma

I was due to give birth in July 2017, the month after my new company, Matron Saint, was to go live. How perfect, a 9-month pregnant woman presenting her maternity fashion company to the world!

But life rarely goes according to plan; I miscarried at 12 weeks pregnant. I was diagnosed with a partial molar pregnancy, which, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is “a genetic accident in which the egg receives two sets of chromosomes from the father, usually because two sperm have fertilized the egg.” Essentially, the embryo began to develop, we even saw a heartbeat on an earlier ultrasound, but it had 69 chromosomes instead of 46 and was genetically malformed and unable to survive.

I was, of course, shocked, disappointed, and sad to think that the baby we’d envisioned wouldn’t be arriving. But I also suffered another loss— that of my credibility. Who would trust a childless woman to dress them for pregnancy? Despite my decade of retail experience and extensive market research while building the company, I was fearful and embarrassed, that people would judge my empty belly and it wouldn’t add up to them.

I had been working on this great idea that had intrigued and excited me for months, that I couldn’t wait to introduce to the public, but now, how could I? I was an outsider; my own body couldn’t even test out the pieces. I still believed in my project, but why would anyone else?

Over time, however, I came to realize that I was indeed an insider. My pregnancy story was very real, and more common than many realize. To have experienced pregnancy doesn’t mean you’ve had a “successful” pregnancy. To me, it means you’ve experienced the range of positive and negative emotions that pregnancy, or the prospect of it, may bring.

I decided to wear Matron Saint’s clothes proudly after my miscarriage. After all, they are designed to fit all bodies at all stages of motherhood, and that included mine.

I chose to ignore the social stigma that still lingers around miscarriage. I want other women to hear my story and think, “I am not alone,” and, “If she doesn’t have to keep her story secret, then I, too, have nothing to hide.” I had a lot of trouble finding information about partial molar pregnancy, and didn’t know anyone else who’d had one. If we continue an open dialogue about miscarriage and its various forms, perhaps no one else will have to find themselves in the dark the way I did.

Going through my perhaps ironic miscarriage while building a maternity clothing company taught me an invaluable lesson: Everyone has a different story to tell, there is no perfect cookie cutter pregnancy, and there are ups and downs women experience during pregnancy that I’ll now be more sensitive to when working with clients, influencers, and other women whose paths cross mine as my business develops.  Once I got over my initial fear and embarrassment, I felt like more of an insider than ever. Now, I could relate to my community of clients even more, and in sharing my personal story, I could hopefully inspire others to share theirs.

As I learned that motherhood is beautiful, but also sensitive, scary, and painful at times, it gave a whole new meaning to my life’s work. It was no longer just about looking good and feeling beautiful. It’s also about feeling empowered and enabling women to overcome whatever challenges come their way during this era of their lives, be it health-wise, professional, or personal. It’s about facing the day with confidence and feeling like a better version of oneself. It’s about flaunting, not hiding one’s body, and realizing our bodies are capable of both betrayals and miracles.

A few weeks before the launch, I discovered I was pregnant again. I am excited for the future and grateful for the past. My experiences has given me the opportunity to truly reflect on what Matron Saint means to me, and why its message is so much more important than I previously thought.

Karen Turner Hamou is a former retail buyer turned management consultant turned entrepreneur. She recently founded the brand Matron Saint, designed to empower mothers-to-be and enable women in all stages of motherhood to look and feel as strong, confident, and beautiful on the exterior as they are on the interior. She is expecting her first child in January 2018.

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