Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PILAM 2010: Why I write about miscarriage

Why the heck do I write so much about pregnancy loss? I mean, gosh, I have a gorgeous child already, why don’t I quit being such a downer and stick to poo-poo jokes and cute pictures?

Well, for starters and the most obvious reason – writing is therapeutic. My own losses are still fresh enough (can you believe my hCG levels are STILL not back to normal yet?!) that I do get relief from spilling my guts from time to time.

But it isn’t just about me and my own healing. I am very fortunate (or unfortunate as the case may be) to have the support of family and friends who have also experienced miscarriage and can relate to my experience. I am additionally fortunate to have a loving and supportive partner who listens to me when I have a particularly bad day. But not all of us are so privileged.

There are a lot of us. I have found statistics that put the rate of miscarriage in the U.S. at anywhere from 25% to 33%. That’s a lot of women losing babies. And pregnancy loss does not discriminate. It affects women who are white and black, rich and poor, highly educated and illiterate. It can affect a childless woman during her first pregnancy and a woman with four children during her fifth pregnancy. (I do not dispute any evidence that pregnancy outcomes are worse for disadvantaged women, my point is that any woman of any race from any walk of life can lose a pregnancy without notice or obvious reason.)

It happens so very frequently and yet is something that, generally speaking, is not openly talked about much. We are not supposed to talk about it. As soon as the bleeding stops or the D&C is done we are expected to forget it ever happened and move on with our lives as though it were just another period or a procedure not much unlike the removal of a wart on the hand.

This is particularly true for women who have living children. Our grief is invalidated. Our cries silenced because “What are you complaining about? You have children. Why don’t you just get over it and focus on that?”

The loss is real. The grief is real. It is lasting. And I will not be silent.

I write to give voice to those who cannot speak without their feelings being invalidated. I write for those who cannot or will not, for whatever reason, write for themselves. I am not so pretentious as to claim to know what all women feel, for we all experience loss differently and process it uniquely in our own due time, but I write to pay homage to all my sisters in pregnancy loss and to honor and validate their experiences.

For if I speak, if I am heard, if I create awareness that this is indeed real, then perhaps any woman who suffers silent grief, whether as a fresh all-consuming wound or as an ever-present ghost in the furthermost crevice of her mind, might raise her voice and say out loud:

I feel sad. I feel lost. I feel hopeless. I feel scared.

My baby would have born this month. My baby would have turned four this month. My baby would have turned 40 this month... And I grieve anew every year at this time.

I mourn the baby I never had the chance to hold and hug, laugh with and delight in. Yes I love the children I have… But I also love the children I didn’t have.

And the people she from whom she most needs support, rather than saying “Get over it” will respond with empathy and love and warmth.

Be aware. Starting this year, this October, this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, try to be sensitive, and just be aware.

This post is part of a series I am writing for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month that I am calling PILAM 2010. I will be writing about pregnancy loss periodically throughout the month of October. As posts are added to the series I will add the links on all applicable posts.

My intro to PILAM 2010 is October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and includes resources in the Las Vegas area.

For reasons on why I am writing about pregnancy loss, see Why I write about miscarriage.

For ideas on ways to commemorate Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day, see What Can You Do.

A poem commemorating Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is posted for October 15, 2010

My post October 15th weekend wrap-up is at Picture Thursday.


  1. Oh my gosh - thank you so much for writing this. You put into words what I could not.

    "This is particularly true for women who have living children. Our grief is invalidated. Our cries silenced because “What are you complaining about? You have children. Why don’t you just get over it and focus on that?”

    The loss is real. The grief is real. It is lasting..."

    Yes. Exactly.

    This is the first time I've been to your blog and I'm so glad I saw this. Again, thank you.

    - Erin

  2. Hi Shana,

    Thank you for posting this. You are SO right - when we have had a miscarriage (or stillbirth), it's as if we aren't supposed to talk about it. No one knows what to say to us. I had a miscarriage last year, and it was my first pregnancy. It was devastating and I thought I'd never be able to have children. I don't think your loss is any less than mine because you already had children. A lost baby is a lost baby.

    After my miscarriage I decided to start my website, angelbracelets.org. We support several pregnancy and infant loss charities with our memorial bracelets, and we publish angel baby stories on our site. I hope you find the site helpful.

  3. While I cannot truly relate, I remember how terrified I was when I had a "threatened miscarriage." I have friends that have miscarried. I respect what you are doing here.

    Also, I am relieved to have found a fellow working mom in the blog world! I also love your profile statement - I can certainly relate to that!

  4. I love this post ... I'm mom to a four year old, and had multiple losses after him until my current pregnancy ... it's a good reminder about why I do what I do, too. (And Momma Jorje ... another working mom here!)

  5. I don't understand why people are so unsympathetic about miscarriage. I haven't experienced it, but I can imagine. How hard can it be for people to imagine what it would be like to lose a child? Do they think the child isn't real until it's born? How sad to never meet your child, to cuddle with them, to see them grow up! Why can't people see how devastating this is????

    When I became pregnant with my son, I was so protective of him. I loved him immediately, long before he was born. I was afraid of the very real possibility that I could lose him.

    Thank you for writing about miscarriage. People need to understand so they can know how to respond to someone who's gone through it.

  6. Thanks for writing this, I have a living child as well and I do feel that people seem to think that I should somewhat be less sad about the death of my daughter because I have him...they just do not get it.

  7. Great post.
    I became pregnant with my son right after a miscarriage and it was terrifying to be pregnant again. Not many people could understand that.

    (from the creme)

  8. When I asked my nextdoor neighbour (in her 60's) how many children she has, she told me "I had 5. My son died, I had three miscarriages and now I only have one child". I love that kind of honesty.

  9. You said it better than I ever could. Thank you for that.

    Stopping by from Creme de la Creme - I'll be back often. (you have a great blog!)

  10. Thanks for your post. I'm from the Creme.

  11. Your post was so touching and so true. I really appreciate you writing about miscarriage. I try to, but it is often hard to find the words for such a complex and encompassing experience.

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us via the Creme de la Creme.

  12. Here from creme. You're doing a good thing here.

  13. Also here from the Creme.

    This post spoke to me beacuse my husband and I recently had a conversation related to this subject with my husband's brother. We were talking about the death of our daughter, and how I'm pregnant again now and if/when people ask if this is my first pregnancy I will say no, this is my second. And when people ask how many children I have, I will (most likely) answer something like, "I have one living child" (assuming all goes well and this second child becomes our only living child). My brother-in-law expressed his annoyance about this and asked/said something about why would I tell a complete stranger this and make them feel uncomfortable. I was fuming inside.

    Anyways - I appreciate your writing and ability to speak for all of us BLMs and our babies.

  14. Can I just say, THANK YOU! I suffered an ectopic pregnancy before my second pregnancy and it was devastating. I was very open about it and spoke about it with all of my friends. I told my colleagues at work, even though it happened over the summer. It was a truly difficult even for me, both physically and emotionally and I wanted it to be recognized. I know there were people who felt I was over reacting, but I don't care. Hopefully the next time they hear of someone losing a pregnancy they will be more sensitive towards that person. I truly believe pregnancy loss needs to be acknowledged and those of us who have suffered it can't expect others who have not to do it for us. So we need to stand up and talk about it, when we have the strength. And I know not everyone does, and that is fine, but I do so I want to bring it up and not ignore it. Thank you for doing the same.

    Creme de la Creme #125
    Creme de la Creme 2010 Iron Clad Commenter Attempt