Friday, April 13, 2012

M is for...

Miscarriage

When I first began this project of exploring professions that dealt with death, I naively thought that I didn't have any experience with death, other than the death of my grandmother when I was a teen.  At the age of 38 when I began this journey, I'd already had two miscarriages.  
Why didn't I consider their loss as a death?

For me, the minute those two lines appeared on the test, I was literally pregnant with possibility--living in the future with my snuggly little bundle of joy.  Although my mother experienced several miscarriages before having six children, I never considered that possibility for myself.  Until it happened.  Immediately, I felt shame that my body couldn't do the most natural of natural things.  Then I blamed myself, thinking I had done something wrong.  Ultimately, I felt unable to grieve openly over my loss.  

Why?
Miscarriages make people uncomfortable.  Heck, all death makes people uncomfortable.  (That's why I'm so thankful for the few followers that I do have.  You all get brownie points for joining the discussion.) I'm partly to blame.  I silenced myself so that others wouldn't feel uncomfortable. When I did talk to someone, I was told either, a.) It's good that it happened early or b.) Don't worry, you'll have another one.  So, in other words, forget about it. Suck it up. Move on. Is this just an American attitude?  I'd be interested to hear from people outside of the states.


Jizo Statues

If you'd like to read about what they do in Japan, there's a wonderful article,"Mourning my Miscarriage" by Peggy Orenstein that talks about this tradition.

In my own research, I found this wonderful book, "Unspeakable Losses" by Kim Kluger-Bell. If you've experienced a miscarriage or know someone who has, I highly recommend it.

So, who is going to be brave and talk about it?  What helped you in the grieving process? 


26 comments:

  1. I've never had a miscarriage but I've had a few friends who have and I think minimizing what they went through is horrible. I'm sorry for your losses.

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  2. I've never gone through this...the pain must be unimaginable.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. It is very sad and made even sadder that more women don't feel as if they can talk about it.

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  3. Great post! I never knew what to say to people who had lost a baby until recently. I finally realized that I don't have to say much but I have to present in my friends lives and let them know I am here for them. They need to know that they have a safe place to grieve, to remember, and a shoulder to cry on. It's about time we women start talking about this and share our burdens! It is then that they are lightened. Way to go Pam!

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    1. Thanks Lori. One of the major dilemmas I had to go through in my exploration of death is that you can't fix grief. I am a fixer by nature, but I learned that there are no magic words that make someone's pain go away. The simple act of listening to someone tell their story is helpful for both parties.

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  4. Hi Pam, ...same experience. I believe I was 38 when I had the 2nd miscarriage. I had one between each kid. And, yes, it is surprisingly devastating. The first one caused me to break down and cry for days, even though I was only about 7 or 8 weeks into the pregnancy. The second wasn't as bad, but still no less shocking. I think that second time was so shocking because it happened about a week after I found out I was pregnant...never even had a chance to go to the doctor...

    So, yeah, I feel you. :)

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    1. Both of mine happened at 10 weeks. The first one was terribly shocking and physically painful. The second one was emotionally shocking. I figured that since I'd already had a child it wouldn't happen again. With both pregnancies, I'd told everyone I was pregnant, which upped my discomfort. I remember I was at a book club that met once a month and I had a glass of wine and one of the women was kind of staring at me like "what the heck, aren't you pregnant?" So, I had to make an announcement.

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  5. My best friend had a miscarriage before her daughter was born, and it was very difficult for her. I've actually had quite a few friends and a sister in law who've miscarried, as well as my mom. I have not had to experience it first hand, thank God, but I do understand how emotionally debilitating it can be. Just the thought makes my chest hurt. I strongly believe it should be treated as a death, and should be mourned as such.

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    1. It is quite common, but because it is so personal there aren't really any societal rules of etiquette or norms surrounding it, other than we are warned not to divulge that we are pregnant before the end of the first trimester. But who is this rule supposed to help? I told everyone I was pregnant and yes, it was uncomfortable to recant that news to people, but if maybe their reaction were different, it wouldn't be so bad and could have helped. Who knows?

      Thanks for commenting!

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  6. Hello! I'm so sorry to hear about your miscarriages :( I don't have children, but I imagine losing a child is one of the most difficult things to go through. I hope I never, ever have to experience it. My brother lost his first son when his girlfriend had a placental abruption. They had a funeral for him and everything. They have another son together now (he's almost 6!) but the loss of their first is something they'll never get over. I know several other family and friends who've had miscarriages. It's something you never get over, they say, you just learn to live with it, though the pain of that moment when you knew is never forgotten.

    On a lighter (sort of) note, have you seen Clarissa Draper's blog? She's writing a story about unusual deaths for the A to Z Challenge and you have to guess who or what it's about. Here's the link: http://clarissadraper.blogspot.com/

    Wishing you a lovely weekend and happy A to Z!

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    1. Hi Laura and thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. Yes, I found Clarissa's blog and she was the first to comment on this post:)

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  7. Yours is a fascinating blog (stopping by from A/Z) - miscarriage is so hard. I was devastated at the loss and could, in no way, consider this a blessing. I am intrigued by death - I have to go check out more of your posts.

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  8. Thank you for your honesty. I don't think anyone really knows how to deal with death especially if they've never experienced it before.

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  9. I know miscarriage affects every woman differently, but my grief was very hard to move through. In fact, I have written the subject "to death" with both an essay and a novel.

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    1. Susan, you were the first person I really talked about my miscarriages with and it happened because you read something at our first or second writer's group.

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  10. I suffered one miscarriage, but it was so early on I barely realized what it was. I still haven't been able to become pregnant since then, and it hurts sometimes when I think too much about it. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers a miscarriage.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. You are not alone.

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  11. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. It was hard. We're expected to move on, but I still get choked up when I think about it. I'm sorry you suffered one too.

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  12. I think the general consensus is that if we do have another child that that will take away the grief over the one that died. And that just isn't so. Yes, time will minimize the pain we feel, but I know for myself, just writing this post brought up the sadness I felt over the loss of these two children.
    Thanks for commenting!

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  13. I'm sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, and even though I've since gone on to have a healthy, happy baby (who is now two and a half), the experience and grief of losing a child has never left me. You just learn to live with it. Everyone is different, and deals with grief in their own way, but no one should ever be made to feel bad or ashamed. And I agree, having another child after a miscarriage doesn't take away the grief - you can't replace one child with another.

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    1. Yep. I don't think people are actively trying to minimize what happened, but I think it's just a part of our culture to ignore death and move past it as quickly as possible. I think we need to reflect more and be able to talk about it openly.

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  14. My maternal grandmother lost two sets of twins. My mom was her first, and only, successful pregnancy. I wasn't old enough when my grandmother was alive to talk to her about it, but I can't imagine it being anything short of devastating for my grandparents. My grandfather was probably worried sick about losing his wife, as she was considered "too old" to have a child during her last pregnancy.

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Comments are welcome and appreciated!