Broadcaster Stacey Morrison has opened up about the grief she felt after her miscarriage, saying she was stunned at the depth of her feeling for her lost child.
The Hits presenter has spoken frankly about the hidden pain of miscarriage and our reluctance to talk openly about it in Misconceptions, a new 10-part online video documentary series screening from tomorrow on nzherald.co.nz.
TVNZ presenter and journalist Miriama Kamo and funeral director Kaiora Tipene from The Casketeers also share their personal experiences, along with six couples who have been through the trauma of miscarriage.
Morrison, who has a son and two daughters with her husband, Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison, suffered a miscarriage in 2010.
"At nine weeks we had a scan because I'd been bleeding and the baby was there," she remembers in the Misconceptions series.
"Then at the 12-week scan the radiographer said that there was no heartbeat, but because I'd had two children I could see this doesn't look right. How come we can't see a heartbeat?"
Tipene fights back tears on camera as she describes the moment she realised she had miscarried.
"So you get on the phone and you tell your husband and you say 'Hon, this is what's happening. We're not having a baby any more.'"
Director and producer Charlotte Wanhill and writer Kathryn Van Beek say the aim of Misconceptions, made by Digital Alchemist and funded by NZ On Air, is to bust myths about miscarriage, provide information, and let grieving parents know they are not alone.
About one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and most couples who go through the experience go on to have a healthy baby.
But many are left struggling with unresolved grief and social isolation because New Zealanders are still reluctant to talk about miscarriage openly.
Part of the problem, say Morrison and Kamo in the series, is that women are often told they haven't really lost a baby if they miscarry early.
"I discovered that there's a sense you're not allowed to talk about your pain and your grief and your loss," says Kamo.
"There's a sense that if you experience those things you are being a bit dramatic, that you need to get over it."
"No matter how long this baby's with you, they are a part of your whānau," says Morrison. Her intense feelings after the miscarriage also came as a shock.
"The grief really surprised me, how deep it was."
Infertility and pregnancy loss counsellor Megan Downer adds male partners suffer too.
"I hear often from men that they feel that they have to hold it together for their partners."
She encourages men to open up and tell their partners how they feel.
Many couples feel social pressure not to disclose a pregnancy until about the 12-week mark - the first trimester - but this can make it harder to get support after a miscarriage.
Morrison says the silence around first-trimester pregnancy and pregnancy loss can lead to isolation. "That's what we can change and should change."
Watch all the episodes from Monday at nzherald.co.nz/MisconceptionsNZ - a new episode will be added each day from Monday to Friday, ending on July 3