Meghan Markle has shared with the world that she suffered a miscarriage in July this year, via an essay in the New York Times.
Called The Losses We Share, the mother-of-one describes how one morning, she felt a “sharp cramp” after she changed the nappy of her son, Archie.
“I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right,” Markle writes. “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”
She also describes in detail the grief she and her husband, Prince Harry, experienced in the aftermath.
“Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heartbreak as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?’”
Experts praised the decision by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to reveal in a deeply personal @nytopinion essay that she had a miscarriage in July. They said it would help break a persistent cultural taboo. https://t.co/G17iqh1MPJ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 25, 2020
The online response to the Duchess of Sussex’s essay has been one of surprise that she endured this heartbreaking event so privately, and gratitude that she has now shared it so that others can feel seen.
The sharing of her “almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few”, has been received with praise and applause, especially by those who have had similar experiences, and have suffered in silence.
But, as always, every movement of Markle’s is also met with criticism; this time, an outcry questioning why she, who claimed to want privacy, has ‘spilled her guts’ for everyone to see.
Those people, of course, are not Meghan Markle’s audience.
If their only response to the revelation of a loss of a child is how they think she should be handling that information, they don’t understand her intent at all.
They’re the same people who’ve been misunderstanding the actor ever since Archie was born. They didn’t like his private birth, with no showing of the baby on the steps of the Lindo Wing. They didn’t like the slow string of photos giving glimpses into how Archie was growing.
And they certainly didn’t like it when she ‘stole’ Harry and their baby, and safely stored them away on the other side of the world away from the Royal family.
Markle’s critics, such as British media identity Piers Morgan, have been outspoken about her every move in recent years, from using a private plane for safety reasons, to being vegan, to having a private Christening, and simply not being walking British perfection like her sister-in-law, Katherine.
This very same group of people have always responded to Markle’s moves with confusion, and have met her essay on miscarriage in the same way. They thought that was all happening so the family wouldn’t ever be seen again.
One Twitter user responded: “I don’t understand… someone who is determined to have privacy writes an article like this.
“Whilst it’s good to highlight the loss of miscarriage (been there myself) you can’t have it both ways.
“Surely she must realise the scrutiny this would bring.”
Yes, surely Markle realised her essay would attract attention: that’s exactly why she wrote it.
As she explains, “When one person speaks the truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same…In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”
She is trying to open the conversation about miscarriage, using her public profile to do so. This is very different from the conjecture that is regularly published about her, and the photos were taken, without her consent.
Because you see ‘privacy’ was never really the point. It was respect.
Markle has been a public identity – a celebrity – for a long time. What she and Harry ‘rejected’ in ‘Megxit’ earlier this year was their disempowerment; the attacks against their privacy, the expectations put upon them as members of the Royal family to share themselves in a way most of us would not enjoy.
In last year’s ITV’s special documentary, Meghan and Harry: An African Journey, the former Suits star spoke openly about the pressure on her.
“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair… that’s really hard to reconcile,” she said.
The couple left as senior royals because they wanted to control their narrative, in a way that she was accustomed to as a private individual. In a way that we all would want to.
In this instance, Markle has chosen to share her story, control her narrative, to help us all look after each other better. Her miscarriage is not fodder for the tabloid news.
In her thoughtful and carefully worded essay, she offers advice, opinion, and hope. From the Black Lives Matter movement to the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the world, Meghan encourages us all to do better, by asking “Are you OK?”more often, and genuinely caring about the answer.
She does not want to “have it both ways”. She’s not a hypocrite who fled attention to become a hermit. Put simply, Markle wants to have it her way, and for her contribution to be meaningful.
It’s a simple expectation, a hope, which all of us have.