parent opinion

The people we're thinking of today, while the world is talking about Meghan Markle's baby.

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Content warning: this post discusses infertility, stillbirth, and miscarriage and may be triggering for some readers.

If you listen carefully to the international roar of rejoicing over the birth of Baby Sussex, you’ll hear something else; a sound of sadness, triggered by three simple words: “It’s a boy.”

That sound comes from the millions of women who are happy for Meghan and Harry, but are heartbroken for themselves.

The women who are struggling with fertility. The ones who’ve lost babies through miscarriage or stillbirth. Even the ones who secretly long for a second or third baby, whom they know will never be.

Those women, they’re smiling and nodding in conversations with others about the exciting royal news. But what they can’t confess is that when they heard it, when they saw the announcement that Meghan Markle had “safely delivered a son,” it wasn’t easy.

On the inside, even if only for the briefest moment, after their joy, they thought: That could have been me. Why wasn’t that me? What’s wrong with my body? Where is my baby?

For some of those women, these thoughts happen every day, because their loss, their grief for the baby they so desperately wanted, never goes away.

And sadly, try as they might to not let it, baby news, especially on this mass scale, is triggering.

“It brings it all back again,” Elise – who has suffered with pregnancy loss – told me.

“I had so many rounds of IVF, and two miscarriages. I know it’s not fair, but I couldn’t help but think it was so easy for her.

“My baby would have been a prince to me, too.”

Of course, that’s not a personal attack on Meghan, but rather a sense of residual trauma from Elise’s own experience.

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A friend texted me something similar, using her typical dry sense of humour, with no preamble, at 7am: “Reminds you of the good ol’ days at the clinic, doesn’t it?”

It was a reference to the IVF clinic we attended when we were trying to have our children – a very challenging time in both of our lives.

No one wants to feel this way. We are all happy for Meghan and Harry. But it’s only natural that baby news will remind some people of their own pain.

meghan markle fertility
"No one wants to feel this way. We are all happy for Meghan and Harry." Image: Getty.

Because this is the thing about babies; yes, they’re born ‘one a minute’, and yet, each one is celebrated as though it was the first in the world. Because to many (not all) people, babies are a production of life, and having one is widely considered one of the most meaningful things we can do.

But I’ll confess that when I learned of Meghan's news, I also thought of my own story. How terrified I was when my son was born at 31 weeks…how he was one of five embryos my husband and I had battled for years to create via IVF...how I then had to give up those embryos and the dreams of another child when we got divorced and it almost destroyed me.

More than a decade after those events, today’s baby news brought up those memories; as it has for my friends, and for so many other women.

At the risk of sounding selfish, many of them won’t admit it to you – which is why we need to talk about it, now.

But those women, they’re not selfish. Their private reactions simply mean that hidden deep down inside - behind their outward and genuine joy for Baby Sussex – they’re hurting.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

Nama Winston has had a decade-long legal career (paid), and a decade-long parenting career (unpaid). Now a Mamamia Contributor and freelance writer, Nama uses her past experience as a lawyer to discuss everything from from politics, to parenting. Instagram: @namawinston Facebook: @NamaWinston.
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