What to Know
- Up to 25 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to federal data; often there is no precise cause
- Stillbirths are far more rare; about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the U.S. each year (1 percent)
- An Instagram account, "I Had a Miscarriage," has given grieving women a safe place to talk about an stigmatized tragedy, its creator says
A woman who was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and a blood clotting condition and delivered a stillborn son -- then was blind for two weeks because of her health conditions -- has lifted the veil of her emotional devastation nearly a year after her devastating loss. She was warmed by the virtual embrace of strangers with similar life stories -- but she says it took her awhile to find them, and now Tessa Stephens wants to help illuminate the path for anyone in need.
Tessa Stephens, 26, was 30 weeks pregnant when soaring blood pressure sent her in for a battery of tests, according to "Today." She had a barrage of bloodwork done and went home, then experienced cramps and went back to the hospital: Her baby no longer had a heartbeat.
Stephens delivered a stillborn boy, Jude, on Aug. 11, 2016, according to "Today." After the trauma of that delivery, she had to cope with a litany of her own debilitating health problems: key organs were failing, her brain was swelling, she still had high blood pressure and couldn't see.
Two weeks later, Stephens' vision came back. Once she was well enough, she went home from the hospital -- and tried to cope with her grief by finding similar stories online. Eventually she found "I Had a Miscarriage" on Instagram; the account was started by a woman who had two third trimester miscarriages and wanted to share her story to help others, "Today" said.
“I found a lot of comfort in it. No one really likes to talk about miscarriage and stillbirth and here was a whole page talking about loss,” Stephens, who is from Michigan, told "Today."
The woman behind that Instagram account, Jessica Tucker, told "Today" she started the page as an outlet to process her own grief. She said the subject of miscarriage often comes with a sort of stigma, and many women feel too ashamed or guilty to talk about their own.
“Miscarriage is not a disease and pregnancy loss is not going away. It just feels all the more important to me that we address it and we become comfortable talking about something uncomfortable,” Tucker told "Today."
Stephens shared her struggle on the page recently, ahead of the year anniversary of her loss. She said sharing her pain and healing process was "empowering" and "makes me feel his memory will always live on."
Between 15 and 25 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to federal data. Most occur within the first three months of pregnancy and most miscarriages are related to fetal genetic problems unrelated to the mother. But often miscarriages come without warning -- and with no identifiable cause. Because of that, many blame themselves, according to advocates and women who have endured them.
Stillbirths are far more rare, with about 24,000 babies born stillborn in the United States each year (1 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For Stephens, she says I Had a Miscarriage on Instagram was finally a safe place to share her story.
“I didn’t feel it would be scary or I would be judged,” Stephens told "Today." “The more you talk about it, the more healing it becomes.”
Tucker's page has nearly 18,000 followers and features emotional stories about personal pregnancy challenges and losses.