Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to his social network last month to post a message mixed with joy and sadness: After three miscarriages, his wife, Priscilla, was carrying a healthy baby girl past the 20-week danger zone.
Zuckerberg’s message about his family was one of condolence to other couples who had suffered miscarriages and hope. But there was a message within a message here: If miscarriage can happen to two modern, educated people who have almost unlimited access to first-rate care and resources, then it can happen to anyone.
The couple’s message to others who had suffered a miscarriage was one of condolence and hope.
The Zuckerbergs went public with a message: Miscarriage happens, it is common, it is not your fault and there is hope.
Zuckerberg’s private and hopeful Facebook posting on July 31 began with good news for his 33,458,204 followers and the other 1.9 billion people using Facebook every month.
“Priscilla and I have some exciting news: we’re expecting a baby girl! This will be a new chapter in our lives. We’ve already been so fortunate for the opportunity to touch people’s lives around the world — Cilla as a doctor and educator, and me through this community and philanthropy.”
“Priscilla and I have some exciting news: We’re expecting a baby girl!”
Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan met in college, at Harvard in 2003. Both were ambitious people on ascending career paths. Their thoroughly modern courtship and marriage has been covered in detail by everyone from the New York Post to the New York Times to “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick.
Their relationship reached a crescendo when Zuckerberg and Chan married on May 19, 2012, a day after Facebook’s initial public stock offering made the founder a billionaire.
Priscilla Chan does her best to maintain a private life while married to one of the most famous men on earth. They managed to keep private the difficulties they were having in conceiving a child. In his post, Zuckerberg surprised his followers and countless other hopeful parents by addressing a topic considered somehow shameful or taboo.
“We want to share one experience to start. We’ve been trying to have a child for a couple of years and have had three miscarriages along the way. You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience. Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own. In today’s open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn’t distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.”
“We want to share one experience to start. We’ve been trying to have a child for a couple of years and have had three miscarriages along the way.”
The National Library of Medicine defines miscarriage as “the loss of pregnancy from natural causes before the 20th week of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur very early in the pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. There are many different causes for a miscarriage. In most cases, there is nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage.”
Miscarriage is more common than most people realize, and some doctors advise patients to keep their pregnancy a secret until the start of the second trimester. According to babycenter.com, “About 10 to 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.”
Roughly 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies miscarry — more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.
Zuckerberg confirmed that in his Facebook post.
“When we started talking to our friends, we realized how frequently this happened — that many people we knew had similar issues and that nearly all had healthy children after all,” he wrote.
Zuckerberg didn’t go into detail about his wife’s miscarriages, but according to healthline.com there are several classifications: blighted ovum, complete miscarriage, ectopic miscarriage, incomplete miscarriage, missed miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and threatened miscarriage.
There are even more causes for miscarriage: 60 percent of them are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Other causes include maternal age, uterine abnormalities and incompetent cervixes, immunological disorders, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, bacterial infections, toxic lifestyles, diabetes and untreated thyroid disease.
“Our good news is that our pregnancy is now far enough along that the risk of loss is very low and we are very hopeful,” Zuckerberg said on Facebook. “Cilla and our child are both healthy. I’m extremely excited to meet her and our dog Beast has no idea what’s coming. In our ultrasound, she even gave me a thumbs-up ‘like’ with her hand, so I’m already convinced she takes after me. We’re looking forward to welcoming her into the world and sharing more soon when she’s ready to come out and meet everyone!”
Read between the lines of the Zuckerbergs’ personal message and remember that Priscilla Chan has an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard. She also graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine in 2012 intent on becoming a pediatrician.
Her husband owns a business valued at more than $100 billion, and it’s safe to assume she has access to quality medical care — anywhere in the world.
But even with all that available experience and expertise, the Zuckerbergs suffered and endured, and now it looks like happiness is just around the corner.