Ashley Williams tells the story of her miscarriage, encouraging other women to do the same
An actress wrote a powerful account of losing a pregnancy in the middle of Whole Foods, her toddler son at her side. She shares raw details of how it happened and in doing so, she’s giving other women a chance to speak out about their own miscarriages.
Ashley Williams, known for her roles in How I Met Your Mother and The Jim Gaffigan Show, wrote the story of her miscarriage for The Human Development Project. Titled I Need To Talk About My Miscarriage, her words provide a stirring and plain-spoken narrative of the moment she lost her baby and the discovery that it’s not something many women talk about.
Williams explains that at eight weeks pregnant, she was feeling tired and crampy, son Gus on her hip, when she entered Whole Foods to answer a craving for pizza. “I’d been taught in my training as a doula that pain can be productive, and I had an instinct that the cramps I had been feeling all morning were miraculous evidence of new life. I tried to smile. The baby is nesting today. And, this kid’s powerful. Then I felt something on my leg.”
That something was blood making its way down her left inner thigh. Gus saw it on his mother’s fingers and asked what it was. She told him it was “an emergency” and wiped it on her shorts, now soaked through with blood. She texted her husband, “I think I need you to come home from work.”
In the days after, Williams’ midwife told her that one in four women her age will have a miscarriage, which came as a shock. “If 25 percent of my peers are currently experiencing miscarriages right alongside me, why wasn’t I prepared? Why don’t we talk about it? Why was I feeling embarrassed, broken, like a walking wound?”
As she healed, Williams asked friends if they’d experienced losing a pregnancy and found most of them had. She would then ask, “Did you talk freely about it?” They’d say no. And now, Williams wants to know why.
“Not many people talk about a pregnancy until 12 weeks gestation for fear they will lose the baby or choose to terminate for any number of complex reasons. What’s the point in telling people who never knew you were pregnant the depressing news that you’re not anymore?”
In wondering why more women don’t talk about their losses, Williams describes the feelings of inadequacy and brokenness that can accompany a miscarriage. Women wonder if it’s somehow their fault. They feel defeated and deficient after losing a pregnancy and the language surrounding it doesn’t help. She writes of the words her OB, acupuncturist and chiropractor used when discussing her miscarriage. “Abnormality… Defect… Incapable… Incomplete… Not viable.”
It’s no wonder women don’t want to talk openly about it. But that’s exactly what Williams is seeking to change.
She implores others to speak out in an effort to normalize pregnancy loss and make it something you can bring up casually with any stranger. “Tell the bartender to make it a double because you haven’t wanted to drink alcohol for months and now you’re allowed to. “Why?” Your bartender will say.”
“Because I’m not pregnant anymore,” you’ll say. “And I want to talk about it.”
She asks this “vocal army of the 25 percenters” to help normalize miscarriage, reminding them they’re brave and strong. She also gives them hope. “I was right there next to you at Whole Foods, bleeding out of my shorts. Now I’m well. I’m a survivor. Healed, I will try again.”
The article prompted discussions in the comments from both women and men telling their stories of loss and supporting both Williams and each other. It’s exactly the kind of conversation that needs to happen in order for the stigma to disappear, so women feel they can talk about their loss and know that it isn’t their fault. And most importantly, that they aren’t alone.
Her story ends with an anecdote about Gus losing a water balloon at the park that he was calling his “baby.” When it burst he cried out, “my baby,” and as she comforted him, Williams mused about the fact that it was socially acceptable for a toddler to cry out in pain publicly.
And if women keep speaking out about miscarriage and loss, it can become acceptable for us to do the same.