Any woman who goes through a miscarriage deserves compassion, support and understanding. It's a heartbreaking experience that you simply can't understand unless you've been through it yourself. But you don't need to be able to relate to respond in the right way — and that doesn't include criticism or disgust.
Sadly that's exactly what reality TV star Gemma Collins received following her revelation that she had a miscarriage four years ago. The Only Way is Essex star appeared on Channel 5's In Therapy this week and shared her experience with therapist Mandy Saligari.
The miscarriage happened four and a half months into Collins' pregnancy, although she was unaware she was pregnant as she was on the contraceptive pill. She told Saligari that she "woke up with excruciating pains" and knew straight away "something's not right here." Before the ambulance arrived Collins said she "ended up giving birth on the landing."
Anyone who's watched Collins on TOWIE will know that she's not scared of voicing her opinions and telling it like it is and she certainly didn't hold back when describing what happened when she miscarried. She said her initial reaction to the miscarriage was, “Mum, Mum, Mum, pick it up. What is it? What is it? Pick it up,” while her mum said, “Leave it.”
Tragically Collins also said that she feels the miscarriage must have been "God's punishment" for an abortion she’d had just months before when a long-term relationship ended.
What a horrific ordeal for any woman to go through. Why has Collins received such a shocking backlash? For starters, some viewers felt that it's something that should be dealt with in private and not talked about on TV. Some even questioned her decision to share the story now, years after the event, suggesting that Collins did it to somehow further her career. She's been accused of making light of both her own and other women's experiences and criticised for attending the National Television Awards only hours after it happened.
Of this decision, Collins said, "I look at that picture of me at the awards and I can recall having loads of padding on underneath my dress because I was bleeding heavily. Only I know how I was truly feeling, but to the outside world I was perfectly happy… I had to disassociate myself [from the miscarriage]. It's only when I hear [the therapist] saying it that I think, 'Bloody hell, did that happen to me.' But the show had to go on."
Can't so many women relate to this? The show has to go on. Jobs have to be done, other children have to be cared for, life has to be lived. We put on a brave face and pretend we're OK even though we feel like we're dying inside.
Then there are the people — clearly highly sensitive and easily offended types — who regard her story as too crass. But here's the thing. Miscarriage is messy. It's bloody and it's painful and it's completely devastating and it's happening every day, all over the world. Every woman's experience is different — both in how, when and where it happens and how she deals with the aftermath. Why shouldn't Collins talk about hers?
Nobody deserves to have a miscarriage, regardless of what they have done in the past. Collins should be applauded for speaking so bravely and frankly about her experience. It's only by doing so that women will stop feeling ashamed and alone and get the support they need to work through their miscarriage stories in a way that is right for them.
Currently one in four pregnancies in the U.K. ends in miscarriage or stillbirth. For help and support contact Tommys.
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