More

This mom is sharing her story of pregnancy loss so others won't struggle alone.

When it comes to miscarriage we kind of have it all wrong.

This mom is sharing her story of pregnancy loss so others won't struggle alone.

Rachel Lewis has had five miscarriages.

They were painful and heartbreaking for her and her family. On top of the intense grief and inner turmoil she was feeling, Rachel was met with a mixture of awkwardness and expectation to move on — and to do so quickly. There can also be an assumption that miscarriage is someone's fault. Rachel found herself scouring her own behavior to find a reason why it happened.

"We blame ourselves because we need to blame something," Rachel explains. "It was our body's one job to make a baby and keep it safe."


Rachel, pregnant with her daughter Ellie. Photo by Sarah Thompson.

Miscarriage holds a stigma in our culture, but many of the things women attribute miscarriage to are old wives' tales.

That jog you took? A stressful day at work? Not going to cause a miscarriage, says Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Irrational as it seems now, Rachel thought not drinking enough water led to her miscarriage.

“Historically, medical professionals have played a role in perpetuating society’s hush-hush treatment of miscarriage,” says Williams. He doesn’t even like to use the term "miscarriage" because of the blame it places on the mother. “It implies not carrying properly," he says. "The woman did nothing wrong.”

When women become pregnant, they are often told not to tell anyone for three months. "The implication behind that is you want to avoid talking about a miscarriage if you have one,” Williams says.

Rachel and her husband Ryan's announcement for their much hoped for "rainbow baby" — their third daughter, Ellie. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

But gun-shy behavior around miscarriage is odd because it is the most common complication associated with pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

High incidents of miscarriage in early pregnancy isn’t actually a bad thing either. It’s a body doing its job.

In those first few weeks of pregnancy, the body evaluates the embryo to determine if it is viable; if it is not, the body will naturally abort the pregnancy. The vast majority of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormality, and according to Williams, there is absolutely nothing a mother or even a doctor, can do to prevent a chromosomally unviable pregnancy.

To put it simply: With miscarriage, your body is not failing and neither are you.

Rachel and her husband Ryan, pregnant with their oldest daughter, prior to any losses. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

But we are failing in our hesitancy to discuss it.

Why is it so awkward to openly talk about miscarriage at work? Why are we told to keep our pregnancies private until we're "sure" they will go to full-term? Why isn’t miscarriage a more prominent part of sex education and health courses? Perhaps if we, as a society, were more educated in the prevalence and often unpreventable nature of miscarriage, we would be better able to cope with miscarriages and provide better support systems to women who are going through them.

Rachel at the OB-GYN office. She had just had an ultrasound where they suspected trouble and an ectopic pregnancy. She says, "I took this picture to remember what heartbreak looked like." Photo via Rachel Lewis.

“My routine OB-GYN care in no way prepared me for the mental onslaught of grief, anxiety, depression and numbness that accompanied my pregnancy losses,” Rachel says. Her miscarriages were early, within the first eight weeks, and she felt that her doctor didn’t take her needs seriously given that miscarriages are so common early on.

"Miscarriage can be scary, overwhelming, and heartbreaking — not to mention extremely painful," she elaborates. "Knowing that our OB sees this all the time does not save us from experiencing all the rawness of the pain and grief.”

Rachel now spends her time writing about her experience with miscarriage in the hopes that she can provide comfort to anyone struggling in silence.

Photo by Sarah Thompson.

Rachel wants to bring the universal experience of miscarriage out of hiding. "Sure, we've broken the taboo about discussing birth control and preventing pregnancies. But admitting that we've endured a loss is still difficult. Secrecy and shame shroud this event, starving both women and men of the support they desperately need."

Rachel is bravely taking the step to start the conversation. We should all follow her lead.

Rachel and her husband Ryan along with their daughters Maddy, Leyla, and Ellie. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less