Trigger Warnings: For Those Who Have Lost, TV is a Minefield

“I don’t want to watch this anymore.”

I said it horsely as tears welled up in my eyes. My husband quickly turned off the Netflix show that we were watching–GLOW. We were only a few episodes in and while the show was a bit vulgar, it had the potential for entertainment. But when one of the main characters faked a miscarriage on the mat with a bottle of ketchup, I couldn’t watch anymore. 

For those of us that have lost babies, a simple television show can be a minefield of triggers. I miscarried twice, starting in 2014. One was missed and one happened naturally. The character’s cries of pain echoed exactly my feelings when I went to the bathroom that day and saw the bright red blood that meant that my heart was being torn out through my womb–again. 

I’m not an overly emotional person as a rule but loss like miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss makes a mark on you that diminishes but doesn’t disappear. Something as simple as a sonograph on a sitcom can bring back feelings of panic, like the long moment in a recent episode of Black-ish when the sonographer couldn’t find a heartbeat on Rain’s latest pregnancy. As that moment ended, the heartbeat appeared and the TV family sighed in relief. I hugged my daughter tight and cried, remembering the same exact situation with my husband as we waited for the heartbeat that never came in our first pregnancy. 

Am I being silly? I don’t think so. Grieving is a long process and one that no one is really good at. Knowing that a show will include pregnancy story lines is one thing but when situations like GLOW hit you from the side, it’s hard to correct and shake it off. And maybe I shouldn’t. Those feelings are valid and real and it’s my duty to my unborn children to give them credence.  

One of my fellow contributors, Victoria, writes about this and has a great list of films and television shows that can be minefields for those that suffer from loss and infertility. Sometimes having a heads-up makes all the difference in the world. 

For partners of women that have lost babies, please be patient and sensitive. We are doing the best we can. We can get blindsided by the intensity of the memories even years after the fact. Although those babies may have never wiggled in our arms, they breathed and dreamed and danced in our hearts and our dreams. We move on, we dream anew but we aren’t made of stone.

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