In late September, Chrissy Teigen shared aannouncing that she and her husband, John Legend, had lost their unborn son. On Tuesday, nearly a month later, Teigen opened up for the first time about the miscarriage, which she described as "utter and complete sadness."
"It feels right to begin with a thank you," Teigen wrote in an essay on Medium. "For weeks, our floors have been covered in flowers of kindness. Notes have flooded in and have each been read with our own teary eyes. Social media messages from strangers have consumed my days, most starting with, 'you probably won't read this, but…'. I can assure you, I did."
Teigen described her third pregnancy in detail, revealing that she was 20 weeks along when she had an epidural and was induced to deliver their son, who they had already named Jack. She said she was diagnosed with "partial placenta abruption," which the Mayo Clinic describes as when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus, decreasing or blocking the baby's supply of oxygen and nutrients and causing heavy bleeding in the mother.
Teigen, who has two other children with Legend, had been on bedrest for more than a month, eventually being hospitalized due to excessive bleeding. "In bed, I bled and bled, lightly but all day, changing my own diapers every couple of hours when the blood got uncomfortable to lay in," Teigen wrote, joking about her newfound passion for the world of adult diapers.
Losing Jack was not a complete surprise — Teigen's doctor warned her that "it was time to say goodbye" after a few days in the hospital.
"He just wouldn't survive this, and if it went on any longer, I might not either," she wrote. "We had tried bags and bags of blood transfusions, every single one going right through me like we hadn't done anything at all."
"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," Teigen continued. "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."
The picture Teigen referred to — which she says she instructed her mother and Legend to take — was shared to Instagram when she first announced the pregnancy loss. She said Legend "hated" taking the photos, but added that she "needed to know of this moment forever" and "needed to share this story."
While the internet flooded her with support, she also received a barrage of criticism for capturing such an intimate moment.
"I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos," Teigen wrote, addressing the criticism. "How little I care that it's something you wouldn't have done. I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren't for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me."
Pregnancy loss such as, defined in the U.S. as the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy, and stillbirths, which are characterized by the 20-week mark and beyond, are than many people assume — however, they are rarely spoken about publicly, and celebrities are often criticized for showcasing them.
According to the CDC, "about 1 pregnancy in 100 at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later is affected by stillbirth, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates about 10% of pregnancies end in miscarriages.
Eighty percent of miscarriages occur in the first trimester, before many women have even told anyone that they are pregnant. In recent years Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Carrie Underwood and Meghan McCain have all spoken publicly about their miscarriages, in hopes of breaking the culture of silence.
Teigen said that Jack's ashes are in a box — they will eventually be used as soil for a tree at the family's new home, "the one we got with his room in mind," she wrote.
"People say an experience like this creates a hole in your heart," she wrote. "A hole was certainly made, but it was filled with the love of something I loved so much. It doesn't feel empty, this space. It feels full."
Teigen wrote that the kindness she has received — from messages online to a checkout woman silently adding flowers to her shopping cart at the grocery store — "have been nothing short of beautiful."
But, "the worst part is knowing there are so many women that won't get these quiet moments of joy from strangers," she said. "I beg you to please share your stories and to please be kind to those pouring their hearts out. Be kind in general, as some won't pour them out at all."