Judgment. When I hear the word, I picture a gavel being slammed down, with a strict sentence and a label that can never be wiped away. In reality, we have all handed it out and all taken it by a jury of our peers. When have you felt most judged? I don’t have to sit with the question long before my answer immediately rises from my chest. I have felt most judged in my motherhood journey. Judgment tends to walk hand in hand with motherhood.
The sting of judgment has certainly been a companion of mine many times over. When I chose to schedule an induction I had to unfriend someone who I had known for years because she wouldn’t stop messaging me, telling me that I would be causing my son harm. Worse, when I struggled to breastfeed and could no longer place a screaming baby on my bleeding nipples I was told I needed to keep going. Let him scream. Don’t give up. If you do, he will not receive the right nutrients and antibodies and get sick often. When I had to take my formula-fed baby to the doctor for the first time after, the weight of guilt was enormous. It happens constantly, the words that stir up the idea that we are not doing well. That our babies would be better off had we done things differently. That we may not love our children as much because we chose a different path, and without hesitation, it is generally given to us often from elders, peers, and even those who have never had the opportunity to experience what we have.
Our opinions are given freely in a world where it’s easy to type out a comment and hit the send button. When Chrissy Teigen posted about losing her pregnancy earlier this week, along with photos from the hospital, the internet spared no expense. I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was reading the comments, but with each one, my stomach dropped a little more. It seemed like for every few condolences was a post about how deserving she was of this miscarriage, or how disgusting she was putting it on display. Words like “this is all for attention” and “#karma” were strung underneath a photo of a crying mother as she holds her child who no longer has a heartbeat. The knowledge that so many could throw out their opinions on her loss in this way is nothing short of vile.
Forget how you feel about celebrities. Forget your opinions on what you think you know about them (because, newsflash, you DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW THEM). Would you look her in the eye and say these things? Would you stand next to her in the room, and see the grief on her face, and tell her she deserved it? The short answer is no.
The judgment has got to go. It has no place in the world we are trying so hard to make better for our own children. Social media has allowed everyone to throw out what you think about a situation that you aren’t in, or may know nothing about, and spew hate and disgust that you would never muster up the courage to say to someone’s face. As a mother, it is heartbreaking to think about, as I know that my young boys will grow up in a world where people end their own lives over the pain of words typed on a keyboard. In reality, we have no idea what anyone is truly going through. Just as our Instagram and Facebook feeds allow for the smoke and mirrors of perfect lives lived in retouched illusion, we can look at an experience that someone was willing to share and twist it into a narrative that fits whatever description of them we have chosen to latch onto. The fact that she felt brave enough to share her experience should be applauded. Pregnancy loss is a very common, unfortunate experience that many women suffer, by many that we likely know well and have no idea it happened. It often brings about extremely strong emotions of guilt or darkness that can weigh heavy for a lifetime
A woman should feel free to grieve in her own way, whether she chooses to do so privately or publicly. As time passes more women are courageously standing tall and saying “me too”, resulting in a space where women can relate to one another, grieve with one another, and create bonds that others cannot understand. How comforting is it to know that when you are drowning in darkness, there is someone who has experienced what you are and can stand on the shore yelling out how to swim to solid ground. Within the last few years women who have had the courage to stand up and share very personal testimonies that have overthrown reigns of terror and saved others from all forms of abuse and heartache. We have applauded them. They opened up a platform where women could be honest and change a stigma that has long kept us quiet. Why do we not owe a woman suffering the loss of her child the same respect?
The next time you are about to say something to someone that may not be coated in kindness I challenge you to do what I ask of the students in my second-grade classroom: Think of the person you love most and have the most respect for. If they were standing next to you, would you say (or type) the words on the tip of your tongue? If you have to think about it, then the answer is no. Set that type of example for your own children. In reality, judgment will form in our minds often, but that doesn’t mean we have to share what we are thinking. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Let’s practice what we preach and hope that somehow our own children are better for it.