Spoiler Alert. Spoiler Alert. Spoiler Alert.
Do not read this if you have not watched the first episode of the new television show, This Is Us. You have been warned so you can’t be a jerk and complain I spoiled it for you.
NBC’s much anticipated show, This Is Us, tackled a subject that I have seen rarely in television. And boy, did they handle it to my high standards. Bravo.
Miscarriage on Television
After scanning my brain and a quick Google search of all the possible television shows that featured miscarriage scenes, I came up with little: Pretty Little Liars, King of Queens, Big Love, Nurse Jackie, The Secret Life of An American Teenager and going old school, Party of Five. For the most part, these television shows quickly mention miscarriage and move on to the next scene, leaving an unrealistic view of a very common event among women.
After recalling these episodes, I am starting to think that miscarriage is a way for writers to slowly exit a character on a television show. In Big Love: Sarah loses her baby and moves away. Nurse Jackie: Carrie miscarries, notifies the father (a main character) and two episodes later he also moves away. Pretty Little Liars: Melissa miscarries, moves abroad to rarely show up in episodes after.
Kind of an interesting way to write out a character isn’t it?
This Is Us Stillbirth Scene
I don’t want to go into much detail about the plot or what happened in the series premiere but two of the main characters, played by Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, are pregnant with triplets and deliver a stillborn son.
I had prepared for the sensitivity I might feel after having delivered my own stillborn son at 18 weeks, just 6 months prior to this show. I braced myself, ready for impact but was surprised that this stillbirth scene actually made me happy. I wish I could say the same for my husband but he broke down in tears. A macho, bearded man that works in college football, sobbing on the floor of our living room. I thought it would be the other way around, him the strong one and me, the mess on the floor.
But it was all too real for my husband. Which can only mean one thing…
This Is Us did stillbirth right.
Finally, Hollywood got it right. The true pain that comes with losing your child portrayed on television for the whole world to see. Stillbirth is typically a whisper among women, a secret in some families, but now it’s on prime-time television. And I can’t even begin to thank the creator of this show enough for bringing awareness to a common taboo subject.
The Sourest Lemon
What brought me comfort was listening to the well written dialog and acting between Gerald McRaney (the doctor) and Milo Ventimiglia (the father).
Though Mandy Moore (the mother) didn’t have much dialog on the subject, the shot of Milo comforting and (what I assume was) relaying the news that their son didn’t make it, wow. Full body goosebumps. Even full body goosebumps as I write about it hours later. I have zero doubt in my being that was how my husband and I looked during my induced labor and delivery. What a powerful moment without words.
I appreciated that the writers and actors conveyed that this kind of loss never goes away, that it changes you for life. My favorite quote brought a smile to my face and really hit home for me:
“…how you took the sourest lemon life has to offer and turned it in to something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, maybe not the way you planned.”
Since the start of our journey, our main focus has been to continue our first and only child’s life here on earth by sharing his story. We may have walked out of the hospital with empty arms but James lives on because of how my husband and I have chosen to speak and live our lives.
We are proud parents dammit! And you better believe we have taken that sour lemon and made some pretty decent lemonade. And because we choose to do so, our son lives on through us.
I am very curious if the show brings up the pain that comes with losing a child later on in the season because we all know, that just doesn’t go away. Or maybe this was it. Either way, I am glad that the biggest show of the season, with over 100 million views just on it’s trailer alone, brought light to a very common tragic life event.
I am in a private Facebook group that hosts over 3,000 mourning mothers of miscarriage and stillbirth. It was a delight to log on this morning and see that I wasn’t the only one that felt justified and satisfied with this scene.
The more Hollywood talks about it, the more common the topic of miscarrage and stillbirth becomes. And the more common the topic becomes, the more mother’s and fathers can heal comfortably and openly. Thank you for giving us a voice.
I am a fan and will definitely be watching. And WHOA can we talk about that plot twist at the end? Who does that in a premiere and not a finale?! Can’t wait for next week.
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