Chrissy Teigen is known for her colourful Instagram presence.
She shares sweet images of her babies, Luna and Miles, loved-up (often hilarious) pictures and anecdotes of her marriage to John Legend, delicious recipes and cooking videos with her mum, and political digs at US President Donald Trump.
But in September, she shared a post which was none of these things. It was raw, heartbreaking and all-too familiar for many women and families the world-over.
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend had lost their third pregnancy.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before,” she posted to Instagram. “We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough.”
The baby, who the couple named Jack, was stillborn at 20 weeks.
“To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you,” Teigen wrote.
“On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.”
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We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough. . . We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever. . . To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you. . . Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive energy, thoughts and prayers. We feel all of your love and truly appreciate you. . . We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience. But everyday can’t be full of sunshine. On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.
In Australia 1 in 120 births will be a stillbirth or a newborn death, while rates of miscarriage (defined as a lost pregnancy before 20 weeks) is thought to impact as many as one in four families. Despite the numbers, many women and families experience this grief in silence. The topic of miscarriage and pregnancy loss is still sadly taboo.
Yesterday, Chrissy Teigen released a new essay on her experience, posting it to Twitter and Instagram. It’s one of only a handful of times the star has posted on social media since the loss of baby Jack.
She starts by acknowledging that she had “no idea” when she’d be able to write her story.
“I thought I would sit in the corner of my bedroom with the lights dimmed, just rolling off my thoughts. I’d have a glass of red wine, cozy up with a blanket, and finally get the chance to address “what happened””.
Instead, she spent weeks trying to collect her thoughts. Reading the reams of social posts, letters and notes from kind strangers (mostly women) who shared their own stories and provided the solace Teigen so desperately needed.
“Many shared incredible personal experiences, some shared books and poems. I wanted to thank everyone, share our story with each individual person,” Teigen writes. “But I knew I was in no state to. For me, the “no need to respond” note was such a true relief. I thank you for each and every one of those.”
Before her loss, Teigen spent two days in hospital trying to stem bleeding which had begun the week prior. She had transfusions and doctors monitored the fluid around the baby which was critically low.
Despite implicitly recognising the severity of her situation, she describes “silently twisting their [doctors] negative words into positives, thinking that everything might still turn out okay.
“Finally, I had a pretty bad night in bed, after a not-so-great ultrasound, where I was bleeding a bit more than even my abnormal amount. My bleeding was getting heavier and heavier. The fluid around Jack had become very low — he was barely able to float around. At some points, I swore it was so low I could lay on my back and feel his arms and legs from outside my belly,” she shares.
After a couple of nights, the doctors confirmed the news that Teigen and Legend had feared: it was time to say goodbye.
“He just wouldn’t survive this, and if it went on any longer, I might not either,” she writes.
“We had tried bags and bags of blood transfusions, every single one going right through me like we hadn’t done anything at all. Late one night, I was told it would be time to let go in the morning. I cried a little at first, then went into full blown convulsions of snot and tears, my breath not able to catch up with my own incredibly deep sadness.
“Even as I write this now, I can feel the pain all over again. Oxygen was placed over my nose and mouth, and that was the first picture you saw. Utter and complete sadness.”
Teigen shares that she had asked John and her mum to “take pictures, no matter how uncomfortable it was.”
“I explained to a very hesitant John that I needed them, and that I did NOT want to have to ever ask. That he just had to do it. He hated it. I could tell. It didn’t make sense to him at the time.”
After chronicling the weeks after this, an experience that will live with her forever, Teigen ends the essay with a message vitally important for anyone in the throes of similar grief.
“I knew I needed to know of this moment forever, the same way I needed to remember us kissing at the end of the aisle, the same way I needed to remember our tears of joy after Luna and Miles. And I absolutely knew I needed to share this story.”
“I wrote this because I knew for me I needed to say something before I could move on from this and return back to life, so I truly thank you for allowing me to do so.”
“Jack will always be loved, explained to our kids as existing in the wind and trees and the butterflies they see. Thank you so much to every single person who has had us in their thoughts or gone as far as to send us your love and stories. We are so incredibly lucky.”
While the onus is not on Chrissy Teigen to open up about her experience, it certainly helps when women with profile and platform do so. Sharing experiences of pregnancy loss and miscarriage works to normalise a tragedy that impacts thousands each year.
Having experienced miscarriage myself, this is what ultimately got me through. The stories of women who knew. Sometimes these were accounts from women I’d read online. Nameless, faceless allies across the world. Some of them were friends and family members who had never shared their experience with me until I needed to hear it most.
It all helped. And Chrissy Teigen’s heartbreaking story will ultimately do the same. It will be the solace and comfort that so many of her fans need.