Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loss for Words

I think every woman who's had a miscarriage must hate the word. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive (you'll forgive me for that, right?), but miscarriage sounds judgmental. It's that prefix. Mis- means "wrongly" or "incorrectly." Which just makes me think I did something wrong, because I was the one carrying. If only I'd held onto that baby correctly!

For similar reasons, I cannot bring myself to say, "I lost the baby." Really? You lost the baby? How shitty of a mother do you have to be to lose a baby - especially one still inside your own body?

Which leaves us with, "The baby died." Ouch. I still believe that this was the best thing to tell Westley. But the phrase just plain hurts to say. Or think. (I soften the blow inside my head by telling myself that the baby just changed her mind about being born.) Besides, it throws off my accuracy meter. The ultrasound showed an empty gestational sac - a blighted ovum, more judgmental-sounding language.

(If I hadn't been consumed by feeling so, well, empty, I would've asked for a picture from the ultrasound. I wish I had one now.)

No fetal pole equals no baby. Was I ever even really pregnant? Does any of this language even really apply to me?

* * *
So many women have shared their stories with me. Some in great detail, some with a simple, "That happened to me, too." The nurse who filled in while the nurse assigned to my ER room went to lunch mentioned that she miscarried her first baby at 16 weeks - and while she was recovering, a visiting friend brought over a huge stack of baby clothes.

Suddenly it seems like if you have female parts and it's not you, it's the woman right next to you. "It's very, very common," my midwife said at our follow-up appointment yesterday. "But no one talks about it."

Miscarriage falls firmly in that "don't want to talk about it" space. Or, if you're a chronic oversharer like I am willing to talk about it, it seems too harsh to bring up:

"Hey, how're you doing?"

"Oh, not so good. I had a miscarriage on Sunday."

Whoa. Maybe not. But how are we supposed to not not talk about it, then? I wish I knew.



sarah said...

If you think about all the amazing biochemical things that must go right to make a baby, it's amazing that any are ever born. I believe the stat is that 50% of pregnancies spontaneously abort,is that a better word? It's just that it normally happens before the woman knows that she is pregnant and therefore goes unnoticed. Love you Lady.

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion there is no way to "not talk about it." Healing is to be found to a great measure in talking about it.

Don't be afraid. If the other person cannot receive your words, that is about them, not about you. So many of us out here in the bolgosphere CAN "hear" it. We love you.

Kaylie Jones said...

There's a miscarriage support group that meets on the Eastside at Overlake Hospital. I never ended up going but got the info on it. Thursdays at 7pm at the Overlake Hosipital PACCAR Education Center.
Seeing a Pyscharist and anti-depressant meds helped me a lot.

Allison the Meep said...

I think it's so brave of you to talk about. It's a topic kind of like depression - miscarriage is stigmatized and people don't know how to handle it. Or it's viewed as something being wrong with you; something you did wrong.

But it isn't. You did the best you could. You loved that little baby for her duration in this world, and sometimes bad things just happen. It's a shitty outcome for good people, and I will never be able to get my mind around that. It's so unfair.

The more people let themselves talk about this kind of thing, I think we'll see how very common an occurrence it is, and women will be able to support each other. You kick ass for speaking honestly about this.


Amber said...

I've had 2 miscarriages and one preterm baby. Trust me when I say I KNOW how it feels like your body has failed you. The word "miscarriage" is so painful.

My last one, like I mentioned before, was this winter. I tested positive at the first possible day after ovulation that I could test. I was good for a week or so, then started the cramping, then the spotting, then the bleeding. I called the ob/gyn because I knew there was nothing I could do about it, but still wanted to have everything checked out. When I took another test there I was "negative".

Like I was never pregnant and had just gotten my period a week late. I'm sure if I wasn't trying I would have just thought it was later than normal (well maybe, I'm pretty regular) but it was still a huge blow.

We had planned to tell our families on Christmas day. I bought a "big sister" book for Alexa to open in front of all the grandparents. I was crushed, my plans were ruined (is that terrible to be pissed about?), and now I'm terrified to try again.

They tell me that since I got pregnant on the first try that it's a good sign, that a "chemical pregnancy" means nothing in the grand scheme of things, and that I could do it again whenever I'm ready.

Thing is, now I don't know if I ever will be. I'm afraid my body just isn't cut out to hold a baby to term. I still have that big sister book upstairs, and I can't seem to make myself return it to Amazon, but I don't know if I'll ever get to use it.

Please keep talking about this for as long as you feel comfortable. I don't feel like I can share the way you have because no one even knew we wanted why should it still hurt? You're helping me so much, much love and warm wishes.