Katherine Ryan has said her miscarriage in February made her feel “embarrassed and shameful”, adding women and girls need more information on losing a baby.
“I think it needs to be on the curriculum, I think girls need to know that you can have this secret, silent miscarriage,” she told Love Island host Laura Whitmore’s Castaway podcast.
“I felt embarrassed for getting excited before the loss,” said the Canadian comedian and actress.
She had been 10 weeks pregnant.
Ryan told Whitmore: “I know it can be a very lonely experience, and it’s shrouded in all this embarrassment… I felt all these things, and I looked for stories and I really couldn’t find many of them.
“I felt like a walking tomb and it took me a month to sort it out to get it out. It’s crazy, they don’t teach us this in school.”
The Department for Education told the BBC: “We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. The introduction of compulsory Relationships and Sex Education from September will ensure that secondary aged pupils will be taught the facts in relation to pregnancy, including miscarriage.”
The performer found out about her pregnancy loss earlier this year during a routine scan, and said: “I’m 36, I thought I was very well-versed on women’s issues. I genuinely didn’t know that a miscarriage can happen in this way.”
She is in a civil partnership with her childhood sweetheart Bobby Kootstra, and has a daughter, Violet, from a previous relationship.
On her own podcast, called Katherine Ryan: Telling Everybody Everything, she explained what happened.
“So I was having a scan, and was then told I needed an internal scan, and I thought ‘something’s weird’, but by now the doctor had turned the screen to herself so I couldn’t see it and I just knew something was wrong.
“The doctor said ‘oh I’m sorry, we would expect to see a heartbeat but we don’t, and we’re going to have to have a very different conversation here’, and then I thought ‘well that’s done’.
‘Medical management didn’t work’
“I think I was really embarrassed, I don’t want anyone to see when I’m upset, so I was happy, smiley, she must have thought who is this psycho…?
“I had a gig in Liverpool that evening, so I said ‘I’m sorry I have to go to work’.”
She said she carried on working, saying: “You think you did something wrong but you keep it to yourself.”
Ryan’s body continued to carry the embryo, and she explained: “Basically my mind knew I had lost the baby, my body just would not recognise it had lost this baby.
“So three weeks passed and I tried the medical management three times, and it didn’t work. That was was the hardest part of it – remaining pregnant with a deceased embryo for that long.
“And having to work, doing the job that I do, and smile and I was just not the same human being, it was crazy to me, the most nuts thing. I would not recommend it to anyone.
“I had surgery, but in that three weeks you can’t be positive, you don’t have that part of your brain that says carry on – it’s like this terrible dark, deep feeling.
“People recover and they don’t mention it again, they start to forget the hardest part, but right now I haven’t forgotten yet. It was so grim and I felt like a bad mom, I couldn’t get it out – ‘maybe this little soul is scared and doesn’t want to be alone’.”
At this moment on the podcast, Ryan became emotional and paused, before adding: “It’s fine now, that’s just always the bit that gets me.
“So if that should be a story that touches your own life, I really hope it doesn’t. The last thing I would want is that hopelessness and shame and weird energy of ‘keep it to yourself, don’t upset anyone, be a good girl and take it on the chin and keep it moving. I have felt this collective grief.”
Whitmore said this echoed her own miscarriage in 2018, adding: “It’s crazy you said that, because I’ve never told you this, but I remember in my situation about two years ago when we went for our scan, it was supposed to be the first proper scan, and there was no heartbeat.
‘Everyone reacts differently’
“I think for the doctors it happens so much that they’re quite used to it, I didn’t realise the figures until afterwards. So I didn’t know how I was supposed to react, was I supposed to be upset, was I supposed to be ‘oh, ok’ and move on.
“I remember being all over the place, and I remember [my partner] Ian saying to me, ‘shall we just go home’, and I said ‘I want to have a little bit of escapism, I want to go out, have a glass of wine, I want to laugh, I want to watch a show and then I want to deal with this – everyone reacts differently”.
They went on to see Ryan performing stand-up at a live gig that evening, and Whitmore said she carried on working afterwards, including at the MTV Awards.
“I was on stage doing a show – people don’t know the secrets woman are carrying around because people are afraid to share them,” she said.
Ryan said on her own podcast: “When it happens to you, that’s when you realise how traumatic it is. Women historically have been expected to get on with things.
“The reason we don’t talk about miscarriage more is not for the sufferer of the miscarriage, not for the mom and family, it’s for everyone else. It’s a way of being polite – nobody wants you to say you found out you lost a baby. “
She told Whitmore: “I think the more women that tell their stories about this… it was important for me to share it, even if it helps just one person.”