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Quiet grief: Albertans open up about stigma and suffering after pregnancy loss

Quiet grief: Albertans open up about stigma and suffering after pregnancy loss
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As early as their second date, Jenn and John Marriott expressed their dream to one day be parents , but they had no idea just how difficult that journey would be.

“I came walking out into the hallway with a Canucks jersey that said ‘future Canucks fan’ with little handprints on my belly,” said Jenn, sitting outside her Canmore, Alta., home with her husband John next to her.

But nine weeks later that excitement was shattered by grief following a miscarriage.

“It was tough and just felt really alone because we hadn’t told anybody,” she said.

“You have this fairytale you know, telling your parents they are going to be grandparents and telling your sister and brother they are going to be an aunt and an uncle.”

“You don’t want to say, well you almost were.”

Feeling the pressure of time passing by, the couple — who were in their mid-30s and early 40s — didn’t give up. They went to fertility clinics in Calgary and eventually settled on one in Portland, Ore., where they underwent a long list of tests. They spent tens of thousands of dollars and years trying to grow their family, but every time it ended in heartbreak — they suffered five losses in total.

“It’s devastating. It was hard to even see pregnant people, I pulled away from a lot of friends. It was hard on us too,” said Jenn squeezing her husband’s hand.

Jenn and John Marriott.

“Not really thinking of myself –or trying not to– and just supporting Jenn and be there for her … it was tough,” said John who admitted he still hasn’t properly grieved the loss of their babies.

The Marriott’s had decided from the beginning to keep their journey mostly to themselves, but they agree when it came to professional help with the emotional and mental toll it was all taking, not a lot of support was offered.

“Four times I ended up in the hospital and not once did anybody tell me there was anybody to talk to,” said Jenn.

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According to Alberta Health Services, for women who know they are pregnant, one in six pregnancies will end in miscarriage. But that statistic in no way eases the pain families bear nor the stigma their grief is often shrouded in.
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