Most of us are aware that miscarriage is extremely common. But that doesn’t make dealing with miscarriage any easier.
It is believed that up to 20% of all clinically recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage (http://www.tommys.org/page.aspx?pid=383 ) and that up to 1 in 8 women will experience a pregnancy loss at some point. Despite this, miscarriage is still treated, either as a taboo or as a trivial loss that women ought to get over quickly. It’s not a real baby after all, is it?
Dealing with miscarriage
Having a baby isn’t a process which starts when you go into labour. For most women, it begins long before conception. We increase our vitamin intake, alter our diet, make sure we get enough rest. We wait, desperate to see those two lines on a pregnancy test, and are filled with joy when they finally appear. We treasure the poppy seed baby inside of us; we plan for their future. What will we name them? Who will they look like? We long for the moment when they grasp our fingers with a tiny fist. And when that moment is ripped away from us, it is crippling. Each agonising cramp reminds us of what might have been. A loss of life. A loss of love. A loss of potential.
Not a real loss? Not a real baby? Some women wouldn’t have even known they were pregnant? So often, women who suffer miscarriage are made to feel that they shouldn’t grieve. It’s nature’s way – there must have been something wrong with a chromosome. You can always try again. You’re lucky – imagine if it happened later. No one knows what to say when someone they care about experiences a loss and often, the best thing a person can do is to be there to listen. But to try and rationalise grief? To suggest that miscarriage isn’t a tragedy and should be forgotten quickly is not only insensitive but it makes women feel that they cannot talk about their loss. They cannot share with anyone how they feel and this can result in a spiral of isolation and depression.
It’s got to be OK to talk…
Miscarriage remains a taboo in society. So many women suffer it, yet it is so seldom talked about. I’m not suggesting here that women should shout about their loss from the rooftops. Grief is personal and people cope in different ways. But it shouldn’t have to be a secret. Since I’ve started writing about my recurrent pregnancy losses and talking about the longing I have for another child, I have been overwhelmed with messages of support from women who have experienced the same. They have shown me, not only is there usually light at the end of the tunnel, but that awareness of miscarriage and its effects is so important.
In the vast majority of cases, nothing can be done to prevent a miscarriage and this seems to give the medical professionals license to treat women without sensitivity or even dignity. It happens, they are told. Just wait and see. You’ll know soon enough. What do you want me to do about it? I kid you not, I have heard this phrase used on two separate occasions by different doctors.
Miscarriage is a tragedy. It may be common and it may not be preventable, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it is devastating to those it touches. And it’s about time our attitude changed.
If you’d like to read more about the devastating effects of miscarriage, Katie has written a series of posts about trying to conceive after recurrent pregnancy loss.
Useful support link: http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/
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