Why Chrissy Teigen is right about sharing ‘deep pain’ of pregnancy loss with millions of followers
The rawness in her words and photos are likely to make others feel much less alone
Chrissy Teigan and John Legend: she shared the loss of their baby with her 40 million social media followers. Photograph: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic
For Chrissy Teigen’s 40 million-strong followers on social media, her arresting candour and wry humour is very much part of the appeal. Whether it’s letting fans into her marriage with singer John Legend, or her more intimate thoughts on her changing body as a former model, no discussion, revelation or reflection has ever been off-limits.
Teigen experienced a devastating pregnancy loss on this week. After being admitted to hospital a week ago with what she revealed was a “weak placenta”, Teigen revealed on her social media platforms that their third baby, a boy they named Jack, had not survived the complications.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough,” Teigen reflected.
The emotional post included several shots taken within the hospital, including a picture of Teigen in tears, and a shot of the devastated couple cradling their swaddled son. Later, she tweeted: “Driving home from the hospital with no baby. How can this be real.”
In the world of celebrity, it’s more commonplace for a high-profile person to appeal for privacy while they grieve or, as is more often the case, to not reveal a pregnancy loss at all. Sometimes, a celebrity might refer to their grief at a much later time, but rarely let the public know the details of the experience, much less while it’s happening.
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We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough. . . We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever. . . To our Jack - I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you. . . Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive energy, thoughts and prayers. We feel all of your love and truly appreciate you. . . We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience. But everyday can’t be full of sunshine. On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.
Tiegen and Legend have taken a different path, deciding to share their loss and let their followers (and detractors) in on the experience, as they are going through it. Just as they have always done, they are sharing their lives, and this awful journey, on their terms.
It being social media, there have been naysayers who believe that this is something that should be more “private” and that this is an overshare too far. Nastiness abounded, with some using words such as “desperate” and “attention seeking”; another Twitter poster went so far as to admonish, “and put some clothes on!”). Kinder commenters have advised they take “space” to grieve in their darkest hour.
This latter suggestion is a time-honoured reaction to a pregnancy loss, but it’s worth asking – is it the right one? Or at the very least, the only one?
Ask most people who have experienced pregnancy loss, and they are likely to recall a complex, deep grief, shouldered alone and in silence. Would sharing the details with others have made things any easier to bear? Many of them will never know.
If a couple like Teigen and Legend want to express their grief in a public way, or gather support from sharing their experience, why do some people have a problem with that?
It’s precisely why pregnancy loss is still considered a taboo, and a particularly lonely, isolating experience for expectant couples. It’s also why many pregnancies come with a 12-week embargo (after this 12-week point in pregnancy the risk of loss drops significantly).
How has it comes to pass, this societal expectation that people keep their pregnancy losses private? Because it might make others uncomfortable? Because making others confront the awfulness of pregnancy loss is... what, impolite? Inconsiderate? Attention-seeking? Surely it’s the exact time when couples can draw support from as wide a circle as they need to?
Personally, I’m all for Teigen expressing this grief exactly as she wants to. It’s quite likely that her posts will open wounds for some who have gone through the same experience. Yet the rawness and searing pain evident in her words and photos are every bit as likely to make others feel much less alone.