Meghan Markle has revealed she suffered a devastating miscarriage in July this year. Writing in a candid open letter in the New York Times, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that she lost her second child with husband Prince Harry. The couple welcomed their son Archie in May 2019.
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She began: "It was a July morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib.
WATCH: The Duchess of Sussex reveals devastating miscarriage
"After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.
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"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."
Meghan and Harry with their son, Archie
The 39-year-old continued: "Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband's hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we'd heal.
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"I recalled a moment last year when Harry and I were finishing up a long tour in South Africa. I was exhausted. I was breastfeeding our infant son, and I was trying to keep a brave face in the very public eye.
The couple welcomed their little boy in May 2019
"'Are you OK?' a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many - new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering. My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn't responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.
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"'Thank you for asking,' I said. “Not many people have asked if I'm OK.'
"Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband's heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realised that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'"
Meghan has spoken of the couple's shared grief in her letter
HELLO! understands that the Duke and Duchess wanted to talk about what happened in July, having come to appreciate how common miscarriage is.
Other royal women have experienced the loss of an unborn baby, with the Queen's granddaughter Zara Tindall suffering two miscarriages before having her second child.
The Countess of Wessex lost her first baby in December 2001 when she was airlifted to hospital after suffering a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said about Meghan's disclosure that she has experienced a miscarriage: "It's a deeply personal matter we would not comment on."
A source has said there is "understandable sadness" in the royal family at the Duchess' disclosure.
The couple have been married since May 2018
In her candid piece, titled The Losses We Share, Meghan reflected on the importance of reaching out to others – despite our many differences.
The Duchess wrote: "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few. In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, ten to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.
"…So this Thanksgiving, as we plan for a holiday unlike any before - many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for; let us commit to asking others, 'Are you OK?' As much as we may disagree, as physically distanced as we may be, the truth is that we are more connected than ever because of all we have individually and collectively endured this year.
"We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.
"Are we OK? We will be."
The Duchess spoke about the importance of reaching out to others
Sophie King, a midwife at the charity Tommy's, said the Duchess of Sussex's article sent a “powerful message” to others who have experienced the loss of a baby.
She said: "Baby loss at any stage in pregnancy is one of the most heart-breaking things a family can experience – and as Meghan Markle said, it's experienced by many but talked about by few.
"One in four pregnancies ends in loss, but it's a real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame.
"Meghan's essay praises the bravery of parents who share their stories, and those who prefer to grieve privately can still find comfort and connection in reading about others' experiences.
"Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone. Friends and family, doctors and midwives, all of us at support organisations like Tommy's; we’re here."
If you’re looking for advice from Tommy's midwives, call their pregnancy line on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email email@example.com.
If you have been affected by this story, The Miscarriage Association is a charity that offers support to people who have lost a baby. They have a helpline (01924 200 799, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm) and an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), and can put you in touch with a support volunteer.
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