Breaking the Silence of Pregnancy Loss | Tanika Dillard | TEDxGreenville

Breaking the Silence of Pregnancy Loss | Tanika Dillard | TEDxGreenville

Translator: Louise-Marie Six
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’ve known since the age of five
that I would be a phenomenal mother. I’ve watched my grandmother,
the mother of 12, beam with excitement as she spoke about her children
and the multitude of her grandchildren. And I wanted to be like her
– just with fewer kids, of course. (Laughter) Nine seemed to be manageable for me. And I wasted no time becoming a mother. At the very mature age of eight, I was blessed with a beautiful
Cabbage Patch daughter named Jackie, (Laughter) — father unknown and unnecessary. (Laughter) Motherhood was paramount to my identity,
and I took that job seriously. The names of all nine of my children
were written in my diary by the age of 13. Motherhood was not just a dream.
For me, it was a guarantee. In 2006, I married the man of my dreams. He’s strong, and he needed to be. He’s full of faith, and he needed to be. And he has a rich, distinguished voice, which he needed to have, if I were
to hear him over those nine kids. It was the best of times. We were happy, in love, and well on our way
to living the American Dream. (Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s get it on”) (Laughter) Hold the music! (Laughter) Sometimes, things just happen. (Laughter) And on my birthday,
we found out we were pregnant. Amazing! Yes, we were in love with our baby
right from the start, and we shared the news with everyone. This pregnancy was perfect.
Flawless, in fact. Until my water broke at 16 weeks,
and our daughter Destiny died. We had never known
such pain, shock, and despair, until eight months later, when my water broke at 17 weeks,
and our daughter Briana died. Pain, heart-break, and despair
grew exponentially. One year later, as we were pregnant
with our daughter Madison, and my water broke at 19 weeks, that was on the evening
of my husband’s birthday. Madison was born two days later, and she lived for nine hours
before joining her sisters in heaven. Why is this important to talk about? Is it just another sad story
in need of sympathy? Absolutely not. I choose to break the silence
of pregnancy loss for many of you. I choose to break
the silence of pregnancy loss because the number of women
who came alongside me after each of our grief experiences
to whisper, “I know how you feel.
I’ve lost a baby too,” that number was alarming. It was as if a secret society of women
were emerging to say, “I’ve lost a baby,
but I’ve been told to get over it. ‘You didn’t know that baby anyway’.” Many of these women were just like me. They dreamed of becoming a mother since they were old enough to emulate
their own mothers and grandmothers. These women knew how it would feel to announce a subsequent pregnancy
without inhaling the fear of the past. They knew how it would feel
to attend a baby shower for a friend and pretend to be happy on Mother’s Day. These women knew,
– they had seen it intimately – that men grieve, too. But they are often overlooked
as unnecessary and invisible during pregnancy loss. Men, just like my husband, who were strong
because they needed to be, would grow utterly weak
at the pain of recurrent pregnancy loss. Men like my husband,
who has a rich and distinguished voice, would grow utterly silent as they were commissioned
to “be strong and take care of your wife,” but never acknowledged
as a grieving father. And many men, like many of you,
who may be full of faith, would be full of questions,
even anger, to God, as to “Why this happened to us?” Oh, yes. Men grieve, too. These women helped me understand how those well-meaning
but less than helpful cliches like, “You’re young,
you can just try again,” or “At least …” – anything. “At least, you didn’t know the baby.” Or my personal favorite,
“God needed another flower in his garden.” Don’t say that one.
Just leave that one out. I choose to break
the silence of pregnancy loss because what you give voice to
has the power to change your life. But what you refuse to confess,
you will never conquer. And what you openly acknowledge
invites instruction. Let me show you what I mean. A few days after Madison died, I blogged about my to-do list
for the upcoming day. Two simple tasks: pick up Madison’s remains
from the mortuary – there she is – and to find the expert who could help us
end our recurrent pregnancy losses. Within hours, I had an email communication
from Michelle, in California. She was part of the women
who knew the pain of pregnancy loss. She broke her silence, shared instruction, and I followed
those instructions to a tee. And because of that,
there’s our son, Christopher Ethan. His arrival was the angelic refrain to the painful melody
we had lived in the past. And here is our son, Israel Grayson, stillborn at 38 weeks
due to a chord accident. And here is our son,
Benjamin Evan, born in 2013. Now, if you are counting,
I’ve given birth to six. My husband and I parent two. I choose to break
the silence of pregnancy loss by boldly, passionately,
and intentionally saying the names of my beloved children: Destiny, Briana, Madison, Ethan, Israel Grayson, and Evan because I am not a victim
of pregnancy loss. I choose to break the silence for you because I understand
the power of broken silence. I break the silence to free you
from the shame of pregnancy loss, to be a voice of hope and advocacy
for those who grieve. Ultimately, what you refuse to confess,
you will never conquer, but what you openly acknowledge
invites instruction. And what you give voice to
has the power to change your life. So, today, I have a question for you. Are you silent? Is it about pregnancy loss,
or some other issue? Will you break your silence today? Ultimately, I choose to break
the silence on pregnancy loss, because I am not a victim. I am a voice. Because being silent helps no one. Thank you. (Applause)


53 thoughts on “Breaking the Silence of Pregnancy Loss | Tanika Dillard | TEDxGreenville”

  • Sherri Taunton says:

    Tanika you are amazing! What a beautiful testimony to the power of breaking the silence for any issue. God is going to use you in a special way to reach so many people.

  • Thank You!! For Breaking the Silence! May God Bless your family. I add to the list of women who will share with you that I also lost a daughter Courtney in 2014 who was stillborn. Your story is powerful and God's hand in your life is beautiful. Please continue to utilize this platform to open doors for change.

  • Grief INSPIRED says:

    Thank you for sharing you message and breaking the silence. I pray that someday I can share my story the way you have shared yours! This is a message everyone needs to hear!

  • nunyuh business says:

    When my wife and I lost our 2nd baby in a row I was told by my parents to "take care of my wife" and "be there for her". No one was there for me. No one took care of me. No one said" sorry for your loss" or called me to see how I was doing. Men are too often overlooked, like it doesn't happen to them to. I'm very glad she touched upon that fact.

  • Brittany Beautician says:

    I know this video is from last year but this woman touched my heart, I lost my daughter at 20 weeks and to know I'm not alone and there are women who understand and are supportive really means the world

  • AnotherKindofMother says:

    I lost my first baby Miche on the day of a relative's baby shower, and my second — Jephthah, a boy — five months later. So I don't go to baby showers, and when people ask me why I tell them. If I'm among friends and the conversation is about pregnancies and babies, I ask them to "please change the subject because it still hurts that my children are dead." And after my cousin gave birth to a healthy baby boy and people who had heard asked me, "Are you the one who had the baby?" I said "No, my son is dead and the first baby is too." I don't believe in suffering in silence, and because I speak up, I've met some amazing women who have opened up to me and shared their stories of loss of a child or sibling as a baby. They've helped me maintain my self esteem and sanity. When we grieve together we heal together.

  • Such a powerful speech. I am so very sorry for your loses. My husband and I lost our daughter Nell 5 months ago at 30 weeks pregnant. I thought I could deal with it on my own and focus entirely on our 1st daughter Lilly, but I am finding it more difficult as the time progresses. Even though I talk about what happened to us with my friends, it is not getting any easier. You have convinced me to seek profesional help. Thank you!

  • I'm sitting here on the sofa, watching this and so many emotions are running through my heart. Two months ago we lost Giovanni, our eighth child. We are lucky enough to have three beautiful boys, aged 9, 6 and 4, but the names of our 5 children in heaven are also seared in our hearts: Angelo, Maria Pina, Celeste, David and Giovanni. Thank you Tanika for speaking out against the prejudice that casts a shadow of shame over pregnancy loss. I come from a small town, where "you don't tell, because people might think there's something wrong with you" and this makes me sick to my stomach. People who speak like this are normally the ones who have been lucky never to lose a child. Our three boys are growing up knowing how precarious life can be and therefore how it is the greatest gift we have. They really really would have loved to have another baby brother or sister, but they know that God has a plan for each and everyone of us, and some of us are called to bigger tasks that they can only accomplish in heaven. They know they have five siblings with Jesus, that are part of our family life and they sometimes tell us how they feel they protect us. However, no matter how at peace my wonderful husband and I are and how much we feel and accept God's will in our lives, it hurts. It hurts so much when I think about what could have been, especially since a very close friend of mine, who is like a sister to me, is pregnant and we were supposed to give birth roundabout the same time. Tonight I cried. I cried because another dream crumbled that October morning, when they told us there was no heartbeat any more and I had to deliver our perfect 19 week old baby after I had had to deliver our 17 week old baby boy just 21 months earlier, due to an entagled umbilical cord. I cried because I fear that everyone who knows my pain might think I'm not deeply happy for my friend, BUT I AM!!! My tears have nothing to do for the gratitude I feel for the fact that everything's going well for her. I cried because I never wanted my beloved husband to have to go through this pain again. But then, our three boys came to me and we curled up in a big hug which my husband completed with his arms. I have come to understand that these events, having to hand back five children in 12 years of marriage is what has made us so strong together. My husband is my rock, my lighthouse who leads me back to God every time the questions creep up in me…"Why? Why us?? Why us again???" We cry together, we pick each other up again. There's a reason for everything and the most conforting thing to me is that God does not ask us to understand, He asks us to TRUST Him…and I do! I want to send a big hug to all mothers, fathers, siblings and any suffering relative of a baby who had to leave them so soon. You are not alone. God bless you!

  • Erin (Aaron?) (6 weeks), Luke (13 weeks). The third only lasted 5 weeks. My husband named the first 2. He cried over Luke. He burried them. Before the miscarriages we had a daughter. She's 5 now. My husband prayed over my body. God will give us a son, He wants us to name him Gabriel. Waiting is not easy. I'm preparing, I hope I will be ready.

  • This is amazing. Wh0o knew someone could undergo through such pain and still come out strong. I am so encouraged with this. It does really mean a lot. Many couples have been through loss. It is such a painful scenario to undergo. Especially if one had been trying to conceive for long. The pain hits your heart like an arrow. Only the strong women can manage to deal with this. In such a case I am amuse of how this woman could afford to be this strong. Not only that but to turn the negative energy to something meaningful. I went through a successful IVF in Bio texcom not knowing what laid ahead. It was such a painful experience. After months of grieving. I later decided to start my journey of conceiving again. This time with a different mindset. The miscarriage had really taught me a lot.

  • Wonderful woman you are. I am with you on helping and sharing this journey. To be able to find a way to get through this. I am inspired to talk more. I blog too. Have wanted to do a you tube video and speak about my experience of pregnancy loss because god , faith , believing has truly helped me. So many of us ladies have suffered in silence.. we are stronger than we think and together we can hold each other up with prayer and love and the right words.. ?

  • Alex Rodriguez says:

    I'm a son who's been by the side of my mother of all 3 of her pregnancy losses I'm the eldest of 8 counting the 4 lost babies. The 3 occurred yesterday I'm in a deep amount of pain this made me feel a little better to hear about I don't feel as alone although I'm still confused about what God has had in mind all this time

  • I lost my baby 9 days after i give birth to him. Our little angel was our first baby. It was a really tough time for me and my husband. I am glad to know that there are support groups who can be can be of helped and knows what i am going through.

  • Sakura Lalisa Rosè
    March 30,2018
    She died last march 30, 2018 at 8 weeks. That was the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I didnt know i was pregnant then, people told me that its not meant for me. But i want that child. People tell me to get over it.. it is not easy, so after that i remain silent. Because sometimes the only person who can understand me is myself.

  • Pregnancy loss and stillbirth have TONS of attention and charities and all kinds of things and people raising awareness and supporting the cause. It’s child loss that doesn’t get the awareness it needs. Nobody wants to talk about toddlers and children dying or help the devastated parents left behind. I speak from firsthand experience as a mother who has had 4 miscarriages followed by the unexpected and sudden death of my healthy, almost three year old daughter. I had more than enough support for the miscarriages but when my grown child died nobody was there and nobody is “comfortable” acknowledging she ever existed now that she’s gone and it hurts my heart almost as much as losing her did. Even then people are only around for a short time so they can humble brag to others about how they were “there for you” and then they’re gone if they were ever around at all. Nobody wants to help grieving mothers and fathers unless it was only a miscarriage or stillbirth, people figure it’s not as bad since you never knew the child or so I’m told. And they’re more worried about their own comfortability than supporting a griever. God forbid bad things happen to people… can’t have any negativity in your lives, can’t handle that kind of stuff, blah blah blah… never mind how the parents of the dead child feel.

  • Stevie Michelle says:

    I lost my baby at 7 weeks on the 23rd of April. I still think about it everyday and it still makes me sad. Unless you’ve had a miscarriage it’s hard to understand how losing someone you’ve never met can be so painful.

  • Keyana- The Artist says:

    Thank you, this help me no that I have voice. I did lost a baby last year by miscarriage and I am still try to get over it. No only that my sister going through same thing. She had still born last year it died and then she got a baby again and then she lost that one again. Yes, it can be hard now I have to fight with my other person who still fight as thinks is my fault but things do happen. I am learning how to lean on God and keep going.

  • Maya Holmes Johnson says:

    I enjoyed this video. Our 1st baby was stillborn @ 35 weeks on 4/22/2016 2 days before my birthday. You are so right about husbands needing support. As s result I started a ministry S.A.I.L survival after infant loss.

  • So there have been a loss awareness. I have not known about this. I am also told that on October 15th every year at 7pm one should light candle for one hour in memory of the lost children. Actually it is a baby loss awareness week. Which starts from 9th to 15th October. This is good to have the awareness week. Hopeful it does help parents who lost their children even before they could see them. It looks like it is a sentimental period for parents who have been through loss. I went through loss and I know what it feels. If it was not of Bio texcom clinic I could still be here grieving of my loss. But I had to learn to walk out of the pain. To build myself more. Focus on the positivity. As that was one of the ways that could help me move forward. I am now looking forward to have another child. I do hope with the awareness it will help parents move on.


    I gave birth to a stillborn at 39 weeks, it has been 2 months & 13 days but it feels like it happened yesterday. I try to be strong but the truth is that I'm not okay… Everything was fine but at the final month his heart just stopped. I always ask myself questions, but don't find answers. I sometimes blame myself for this bcz I was carrying him for 9months, why couldn't I notice that something is wrong?I now feel like I'm not a women enough because I failed to bring my son into this world. This thing is eating me day & night

  • Yes Tanika, thank you for opening up. Whenever a pregnancy loss happens, you’re likely to experience many feelings and reactions. Though you can’t wish them away, understanding them will eventually help you come to terms with your loss. Many people who suffer a loss of any type go through a number of steps on their road to emotional healing. There may be numbness and disbelief, the feeling that this couldn’t have happened to me. This is a mental mechanism designed to protect your psyche from the trauma of loss. Desperate to pin the blame for such a senseless tragedy on something. You may blame it on yourself. Like telling yourself ‘I must have done something wrong to cause the miscarriage’ or “If I’d been happier about the pregnancy, the baby would still be alive.” Or you may blame others, God, for letting this happen, or your practitioner (eve if there is no reason to). You may feel resentful and envious of those around you who are pregnant or who are parents, and even have fleeting feelings of hatred for them. Some therapist are good at helping getting over the emotional turmoil. My therapist at Bio tex really helped me a lot get over such an incident.

  • Yes Tanika. It is good that you have decided to break this silence. I believe many women have been suffering in silence. Literally you are like the voice for the many. You may feel like you see babies and pregnancy everywhere you look after a loss. TV commercials, baby shower invitations, and even walking past the diaper aisle in the grocery store may begin to bother you. You may feel jealous of pregnant women and mothers of new babies, especially those who seem to get pregnant easily. If so, your feelings are normal and valid, but knowing that may not make you feel better. Give yourself space to grieve. Expect to have to deal with the five stages of grief: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression and acceptance. Friends and family may provide comfort, additional stress, or both. They may be unable to relate to your feelings and say unintentionally hurtful things to you, even if they’re trying to help. If your support network isn’t helping, consider finding a support group. A support group at Bio tex was so helpful to me that I am really happened that I got to know about it earlier. Rather than drowning myself into depression.

  • I have lost 3 baby in a row all at different stages. I grieved them all in different ways and the second was particularly devastating. I try to talk about them all as much as possible and hold out hope for the future that one day I will be lucky enough to become a mother!

  • Cassandra C-Emma says:

    Thank you so much. really it takes someone who has experienced it to truly understand. I didn't really understand it too until it happened to me. it's really not been easy but by God's grace I'm pulpy through

  • I have experienced miscarriage at 16 weeks about two weeks ago, I was suffering in silence, this talk is very inspirational and I really needed to watch this

  • Thank you God for this woman and her husband. I've only had one live birth out of 6 pregnancies..but in own opinion 7..( I wasn't treated but I know for sure I had missed my period and far too much tissue/etc was coming out) the count is harsh. But I have honestly never…ever..dealt with even a single one. I truly believe I have some sort of PTSD.. especially because of a horrible experience with one miscarriage that I didn't have a dnc for..but a pill. I bled constantly.. me and my husband were separated..I remember blood all over and trying to clean it up..and my self alone.. and a day later a huge..huge mass coming out of me. No one I know has had a miscarriage let alone as many as I have. It's hard to talk to anyone. After watching this.. I am going to seek help. I've never mentioned this to my pshychiatrist..never talk about it. Stops now. I need closure..and healing.

  • Tom McCaughey says:

    This would resonate more if Ted Talks hired women who never succeeded in having a live baby. Too many of these speakers talk about grief but end up becoming moms. What about those of us who never get that privilege? We have to completely reinvent ourselves, our dreams and our lives. Adoption is out of the question these days, and surrogacy is fraught with legal issues. We have no choices. Im sorry but these fortunate women who have living children cannot speak to my situation.

  • OFFICIAL Heather Combs; †eardrღps †hat †angღ says:

    Lord bless you, you're making Dentiny, Brianna and Madison so proud! I lost my granddaughter, Aurora, at 26 weeks. Thank you for your courage!!

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