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Shhh! The Losses We Never Talk About

Last week, I started searching for a guest blogger to talk about the pain of having a miscarriage, live on On Parenting guest blogging central. The first rejection e-mail came in and I figured that I'd be digging for someone for quite awhile.

Then, I ran across the essay I'd been looking for, on parenting site Babble.com: Why Hide Miscarriage?

Writes Christine Chitnis:

"My husband and I were only two weeks pregnant when we decided to start spreading the news. We were like third graders who had just been told a playground secret; we were giddy with our need to share. ... Sure, we had heard the warnings, 'Don't tell anyone until the start of your second trimester, just to be on the safe side.' But we were two young, healthy, newlyweds; what was there to be afraid of?
Six weeks later, I miscarried."

Chitnis goes on to realize that by telling about her pregnancy, and then her loss, she found a community of support. Plus, she and her husband felt no need to hide their sadness.

Like Chitnis, I had a miscarriage. And like her, my husband and I had told the world about the pregnancy right at the start. Our families knew. Our co-workers and friends, too. Sure, we'd get the cautionary looks when people realized how early in the pregnancy we were. But, really, we didn't care. We were on Cloud 9. And then, our world crashed down. Even now, when we talk about our worst trials that we've had to endure, that's in our top two.

Getting pregnant wasn't easy for us, so in losing that baby, I questioned whether we'd EVER have kids. Like Chitnis, I was amazed by the closet miscarriages that popped up in the weeks after the D&C. Family members and friends told me I wasn't alone, sharing miscarriage stories I never knew about. It was as though there was this secret society. By losing that baby, I became a part of it.

Throughout that difficult time, I kept reminding myself of something my mother had said about losing a baby: There must have been something wrong with it. That's the attitude she adopted in her sadness of birthing a stillborn.

Once I finally did conceive my first-born, I was a wreck for the entire first trimester. Would this child make it? Could I handle ANOTHER loss? And then, there he was followed a couple years later by the second one.

After my first son was born and as time passed, the pain, sadness and fear disappeared. While I won't forget the child that wasn't, I am needed by the ones that are.

Have you suffered a miscarriage? Did you talk about it or keep it secret?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 5, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Relationships
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Comments


everyone handles things so very differently...

My DH and I kept everything a surprise, planning to tell people after 12 weeks. We're both really private people. When we went for the first ultrasound at 9 weeks, there was no heartbeat. It was crushing. I had a "missed miscarriage"--there were no indications whatsoever that anything was wrong. We expected a quick, happy doctor's visit, and the world came crashing down on us instead.

I called my out-of-state best friend sobbing, which was the first she heard of the whole thing. Another dear friend came to the hospital and sat with my DH in the waiting room during the D&C. My two closest friends were the only ones to know about it for months and months. I found an online board for women who'd miscarried, which helped me enormously.

Months later, we had a special Mass on my due date. I told all my friends then and invited them to come. I didn't tell my family until months after that.

It wasn't about shame or fear--it was just about raw heartache. I just had to retreat and lick my wounds in private. Now that I've recovered, I talk quite openly about it. I know someone in my circle is likely to suffer the same loss, and I want them to know I'll be able to listen and understand and support them.

Yet another reason NEVER to ask someone if they're pregnant: my first day back at work after the MC, after three days out, my coworker said to me teasingly, "You've been sick? You aren't pregnant, are you?!" It was all I could do not to punch her in the face and say, "Not anymore..." Instead I gave her a sick smile and went to cry in the bathroom.

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 5, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

My wife had a miscarriage before we had our son. The baby should have been nearly 10 weeks, but never measured out beyond 6 weeks. The doctor brought us in for second ultrasound at which point they told us this wasn't going to work out for us and gave us the option of surgery or letting it "work itself out". Seemed very cold.

The day we found out the pregnancy was not going to be viable was the day we planned to tell our families. My wife confided in her mom, who herself had a miscarriage before my wife was conceived. We ended up telling our families about the miscarriage so they'd understand if we got touchy around any pregnancy jokes.

Sharing our story definitely helped in the healing process and we were fortunate to be pregnant again just three months later.

Posted by: pj-rmdm | May 5, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I had a missed miscarriage, too. It was my second pregnancy, and since everything had gone great with the first, we pretty much told everyone. When we went for our first appointment at around 8 weeks, we saw one strong heartbeat and one empty sac where the twin hadn't made it. That was a small blow, but we were fine as long as we had one healthy child.

In the following month, I kept having a creeping suspicion that something was wrong. I felt too good -- no nausea, no fatigue, etc. But I told myself I was being paranoid and gun-shy because of the twin thing. Still, I was suspicious enough that when I went for my 12-week appointment, I got a babysitter for my elder daughter rather than bringing her with me as usual. Sure enough, no heartbeat. The baby had stopped growing only a day or so after my last appointment.

I was so angry about my miscarriage, but (foolishly), I figured that I'd had my turn. Every other pregnancy would be fine, right? No. Six weeks into my next pregnancy, I went to the ER for severe cramps, and I'll never forget the following sentence. "Well, there is a pregnancy, and there is a heartbeat, but it's not in your uterus." The pregnancy was ectopic, and would reveal that I was no longer able to conceive without help.

I'm the kind of person who needs to talk about things, so I'm not shy about sharing my experiences. I know I didn't do anything to cause my losses, so why should I be ashamed?

Posted by: newsahm | May 5, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

i had a miscarriage before having my beautiful son who is now 4 weeks old. i did not have to go through the pain of a D & C or seeing the heartbeat only to find out later that the baby was not going to make it. i miscarried very early on ... not quite 5 weeks. in fact, we had just found out. i called my mother just to seek consolation (it was obvious what was happening) but she insisted it was not a miscarriage and told the whole world. so of course we had to tell our in-laws, so everyone knew and then shared in our pain as it became increasingly clear that this was not going to be. it was the longest weekend of my life, knowing what was happening, but praying that i would hear some miraculous words when i got to the doctor's office on monday.

even though my baby was just a ball of cells, it was OUR ball of cells, and it was still the most painful thing my husband and i have ever endured. we also had to deal with people saying "oh, you're young ... you can have another." or "well, there was just something wrong with it." my favorite was "well, it wasn't really a BABY yet, was it?"

i was lucky enough to get pregnant again 2 months later and on inauguration day, my beautiful, healthy, happy son entered this world and is the light of my life. but i still miss that little ball of cells, and looking at how fabulous my son is, i wonder what would have been.

Posted by: simonecoyle | May 5, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I would like to follow up by saying first my son is 4 months old, not 4 weeks. And to answer the original question, we were sort of put into the position of telling people when we at first did not want to, but I need to talk my feelings out, so in the end, I'm glad I was able to lean on family and friends. And although I made some bitter comments about stupid things people say, many people said very warm, caring and comforting things.

Posted by: simonecoyle | May 5, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I think today's post is a wonderful topic that doesn't get discussed enough. Thank you pj-rmdm and newslink1 for sharing your stories. I have tears in my eyes as I read. My husband and I are secretly trying to get pregnant and many people in my family have had miscarriages before us so we know this could happen. We just started trying a couple months ago, though we have been married for two years. For two years both of our families have been asking when we will have kids and now at any family gathering where I don't have a glass of wine, someone asks if I am pregnant. I always debate how soon we should tell everyone when I do become pregnant knowing that a miscarriage is a possibility.

Posted by: sunflower571 | May 5, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

That is so rude that someone would tell you it's not a baby yet. This sort of thing is why I don't know when I will tell my family I am pregnant!

Posted by: sunflower571 | May 5, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

In the past two years I have given birth to a stillborn baby girl and lost another baby girl at 19 weeks, whose due date was actually today. We are currently TTC and I will hopefully be pregant soon and have a healthy baby.

I am very open about both experiences and want to be able to talk about my pregnancies and planning for babies when appropriate - everyone around my is having babies - but I find it often makes folks uncomfortable. But with friends I push on empathizing with various pregnacy symtoms, discussing cloth vs disposals, sharing daycare research, etc. Because it helps me more than it hurts me. Now with my parents and older relatives it's harder - I know they feel horrible for me and were incredibly supportive at the time but I feel that if I mention anything that I am dwelling on it and shouldn't me so preoccupied with it and should cocentrate on other things - all for my own mental health of course. And no one ever mentions my losses to me enless I bring it up - I know they mean well but it would be nice to have someone remember other then me and DH.

Posted by: a1icia | May 5, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

We had three -- two before our daughter, one in-between. First was very much like Lisa reports -- we told everyone right away, were devastated when we lost it, hated having to retract. The second was harder; I went to a very dark place for a while, have pretty much never, ever been so filled with white-hot rage.

What helped was two things. First, we found a very good fertility doctor. Turns out I had some autoimmune factors that were going on. That was hard to hear -- I had consoled myself with the "it's nature's way of dealing with a fetus that wasn't meant to survive," but to discover that I probably had healthy embryos that my body just couldn't support made me feel even more like a failure. But at the same time, it was treatable, and it gave us a path to a healthy baby.

The second thing that helped was when one day, my thinking somehow changed from "why me?" to "why not me?" I realized that, if it was going to happen to someone, I was a pretty good choice, because I had a great husband to help me through it, financial security and (some) insurance to help with the medical side, examples of extremely successful adoptions in my own family, and if all else failed, I had a job and other interests to pursue if we never had kids.

Another thing that really helped was all of the women who came out of the woodwork to report their own tales when I told them mine. The realization that this had happened to so many people made me feel a lot less weird and alone.

One thing that didn't help was some of the stuff people did to try to be helpful. "It's nature's way" doesn't help when you know it's not. "You can have another" is extremely hurtful when (a) you're still mourning what you just lost (babies are not fungible), and (b) you really don't know if you can EVER have one. And then my SIL kept pushing me to talk about it -- lecturing me that I needed to let it out. She didn't get that I needed to deal with it on my own first before I could even put together words to talk to someone else. The rage was so intense that I literally didn't trust myself to speak to another person. I needed time to myself -- not someone making me feel like even more of a failure for how I was dealing with it.

My advice to anyone wondering what to say or do: treat it like a death. Because to me, that's what it was -- the death of a baby I would never know, the death of all those hopes and dreams about who it would be, who I would be, what my life would be. Say "I'm so sorry for your loss." Bring food. Be there and ready to talk if and when needed. If there are other kids, take them on outings. And above all, please let me be sad; don't try to cheer me up, or make me feel like I need to put on a brave face for fear of disappointing you.

Posted by: laura33 | May 5, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

At first my wife and I had a healthy boy.
Then came an early birth (1 lb.) and the little boy died right after birth. After that another boy was miscarried at 5 months.

I gave a burial to the little boy that died right after birth. It took me almost 30 years to be able to go back to the grave. Before that I could not take the pain of seeing the reminder of losing him.

Posted by: observer31 | May 5, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I had a miscarriage at just about 12 weeks with my first pregnancy. We had told some family members and friends about the pregnancy early and our reasoning from the beginning was that we only told people who we would want to know if the worst did happen. When I miscarried and had the d&c I heard from so many people who had miscarried and never mentioned it or shared their pain. I think it's sad that in this country it is something that is not openly talked about. It's a reality that almost 20% percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage but I had no idea about the statistics prior to going through it.

I also would like to add that you don't stop missing the baby that would have been. While I truly believe that things do happen for a reason and I now have a beautiful 3 month old daughter I still feel sadness and wonder what her big sister would have been like.

Posted by: alyssacrowder | May 5, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I had two miscarriges before my daughter was born, then a third before my son was born. I was devastated by the losses. In both cases I only really felt better after each live baby was born.

Pretty much the only comforting thing people can say to you at a time like that, in my opinion, is "I'm sorry for your loss."

Posted by: Annapolis1 | May 5, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I am so thankful for my two healthy boys and not having gone thru the pain of a miscarriage. We waited 12 weeks with the first (and second) pregnancies to tell anyone. It was our little secret, and I felt so close to DH then. It was actually weird to start telling people.
I have a friend who told everyone the second she knew, she said: hey, i would tell them if it didn't work out, and they'd be there for support, so why not?
An interesting view, but still, not the way I thought.
I had a co-worker (who I heard has four kids now!) who had a miscarriage after no. 2. She had told everyone she was pregnant, and then had a week off and came back, and I said something about the pregnancy, and she told me she lost the baby, it was definitely emotional for her.
Laura (and everyone else) - it is definitely mourning, if not something 'tangible' you are mourning what might have been. You are mourning ideas and thoughts and dreams. There's NOTHING wrong with that...and it's that people don't really know what to say, not that they think babies are all the same, or whatever. They want to help, and just, well, most of them have never been in that situation, so they don't know what to say, but they want to say something.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | May 5, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

While I was fortunate to never have suffered through a miscarriage, my husband and I did suffer through 6 years of infertility.

I wanted to comment on the inappropriate comments people say in awkward situations. In fact, my doctor's office had a list of the 12 most common inappropriate things well-meaning people say when they learn of others' infertility problems.

I experienced this when I got a call in my office to tell me that the second of the three IVFs we could afford to do was not successful. This was after five years of trying. I was devasted. Just after I had completed the phone call, a co-worker knocked and entered my office (not waiting for a "come in.") We were late for an office celebration and she had come to get me. She found me in tears and obviously didn't know what to do. I explained briefly what had happened and got myself ready to go. My coworker was uncomfortable with the situation and not much of a people person to begin with. Along the way, she unknowingly worked her way through all 12 of the most common inappropriate things people say. I started watching her at first in disbelief -- I quickly started to laugh. She was obviously perplexed by my laughter and asked what was so funny. I told her that she was soooo bad at comforting me that it was actually funny! Fortunately, she didn't disagree with me. We had a good laugh together.

My point is that even though people make insensitive/inappropriate comments in stressful situations, it does not mean that they are not well-meaning.

Posted by: SP1231 | May 5, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I had a miscarriage in November. I think it was easier for me to deal with because of my 2-year old. She was a real consolation to me and focusing on my sense of gratitude for her presence and good health helped me get through it. The fact that I had to tell the few people who knew of my pregnancy about my misfortune acutally made me feel worse, I really just wanted to focus on the future not worry about other people's reactions to my loss, or worry about whether they were worried about my emotional state. If you are having a hard time dealing with it though, being able to talk to others who've experienced it could be a big help.

My heart really goes out to those who have bad luck in their first attempts to conceive, it would be so easy to feel hopeless, so easy to feel like a failure. I think you have to focus on having a sense of gratitude for what you have, whether it is your ferility, your job, your spouse, your friends, your faith, your hobbies, your golden retriever, whatever brings you joy. The other thing is to get some information, most of which will be reassuring. The vast majority of women who have had even multiple miscarriages will go on to have a healthy child, you have to grab onto hope where it is available to you.

Posted by: pinkoleander | May 5, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I did talk about it. I even wrote a book about it: http://www.tofullterm.com/

I had lost four babies, and each loss drove a bigger wedge between me and my husband. We dealt with the losses so differently, and his way made me feel alone in my grief. After now speaking with hundreds of women, I know this is common after loss.

In the book I write about our relationship during my fifth pregnancy. I was scared that I would lose another baby. I was also scared that I would lose my marriage if another loss pulled us further apart.

During the pregnancy we talked openly and honestly about our fears- past and present. And in the end, I had a healthy son and a healthy marriage.

-Darci Klein

Posted by: darcihk | May 5, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Like Laura, I had 3 miscarriages, and they were painful and difficult, but I never actually felt like they were deaths in the family. Perhaps because they all happened relatively early in the pregnancy. So what I felt was the loss of a potential baby, not an actual baby. But it was difficult to handle the thought that perhaps I would never have a second child. I was relatively open with family and close friends about it, and the first trimester of the pregnancy with my daughter was very scary for me since I was on pins and needles about miscarrying again, but it worked out, and she was born after a completely uncomplicated pregnancy when I was almost 42 years old.

Posted by: emily8 | May 5, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My doctor told me, "I know this is awful, but it's your body's way of protecting you from something worse."
I found that vaguely comforting.

People say all kinds of things, some of them terrible, but no one ever was intentionally unkind. They do mean well, for what it's worth.

Like the rest of you, I've determined the only "right" comment is, "I'm so sorry for your loss."

Every loss is uniquely awful. Mine was especially bad because it was my first and it was a partial-molar pregnancy, so they had to keep taking my blood for months to make sure I didn't get cancer. My sister's was especially awful because she had a perfectly great ultrasound at 11 weeks, then lost the baby a few days later...

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 5, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I lost my first two pregnancies. The first baby (a girl) had a 100% fatal defect, and we chose to let her go at 20 weeks for my physical and mental health. The second was a missed miscarriage at 8 weeks, which was devastating as well, but did not carry the same level of grief as the first.

I now have a healthy baby, but what I really want to know is how and when did you tell your living children about your losses?

Posted by: skm1 | May 5, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

skm1: My sister told all her kids about her two miscarriages at the time they happened. The kids names each baby "Francis" since that could be for a boy or a girl. :) They sometimes talk about the two baby Francises watching over them in heaven.

I see no reason to specifically tell my son about my MC, but he is likely to hear about it by being in the same room at some point when I'm talking to other women about it...

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 5, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

My DP and I found out we were pregnant with our second. He was ecstatic; me not so much. I was so grounded in the practicalities of another baby that I couldn't be totally gung ho right away. We waited 6 weeks - as recommended - to see our OB who assisted our first pregnancy. She seemed quiet during the sonogram but we thought nothing of it. When we joined her in her office afterward she told us that she wanted us to see a sonographer for a second opinion. As she arranged the appointment in front of us, she said into the phone that all she seemed to see was "crud". Nice, huh? Not a word of warning to us. I found out that there wasn't a formed fetus on my 31st birthday. I dropped that doctor like a hot potato after the D&C! I am glad it happened at 7 weeks if it had to happen at all.

Posted by: flabbergast | May 5, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Ms Whacky and I had already made 3 healthy babies together. Since I was very familiar with the pregnancy/sonogram exams, I decided to save as much leave time as possible till after the 4th was born. I skipped out on this appointment and went to work.

So there I was at the office, working my help desk job as normal.

As normal, the telephone rang.

As normal, I answered the phone in a cheerful voice with the "You've reached the helpdesk… How may I help you?"

No answer.

"Hello?"

No answer. Not unusual though, some people just hang up, maybe a wrong number, maybe a technical glitch, whatever.

"Hello?"

No answer. Usually I would have just hung up, but Something was different about this one. Whatever was on the other end was haunting. Spooky, silent. So I held the handset up to my ear and listened to silence. 15 seconds went by, 30 seconds, a minute. So strange, nothing there, no dial tone, no nothing…

Then I remembered that my wife had made her sonogram appointment that morning.

And I continued to listen to the silence on the other end.

Dead silence.

Then I realized what had happened. A lump formed instantly in my throat and prevented me from saying anything.

After another minute, I heard the sobs. Shear sorrow, cries, agony of the spirit.

She drew a deep breath and finally blurted out, "Our baby has no heartbeat." Then came the sound of uncontrollable crying.

This was the saddest moment of my life.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 5, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Whacky. I'm so sorry.

I need a drink . . . .

Posted by: captiolhillmom | May 5, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I have had six miscarriages. One was before and five were after the birth of our son, now three. We have run what I think is the gamut on communication strategies during pregnancy: tell everyone right away, wait, tell only a few people, don't tell anyone until it's over, etc. Ultimately the end result is the same: people who are truly your support system will be there for you, and strangers and close friends alike will say ridiculously stupid and insensitive things. It can't be helped - it's just the way life is. People will say that it's God's will or that something was wrong with the baby, not understanding at all that statements like that don't help when you are grieving and feel like a failure at your gender's most basic jobs on earth - procreation and protecting your children. They will ask you when you are going to try again, as if baby-creating is akin to buying lottery tickets - just throw in a couple more bucks and give it another whirl.

But mostly, people who know that you've miscarried will be gentle and care for you through your grief. They will understand when you don't want to talk and listen when you do. They'll be receptive to your odd moodiness and inappropriately dramatic response to diaper commercials and news of others' pregnancies. They will call, or not call, depending on what you ask for, and will always want the best for you, whatever that may be, and will do their best to make sure you know that. My best advice - listen to those people a lot.

The more we talk about this painful subject and the heartbreak that it brings, the more people will understand that this is the best way to be supportive and pull people through.

Posted by: dustcat_99 | May 5, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

oh, and for sunflower, and anyone else who's trying but is sick of being harassed for not drinking in public: order a beer in a bottle or can, take it the bathroom, dump it, refill with water, sip water all night. apple juice in a white wine glass works, too!

(yes, this is stupidly high-maintenance, but significantly less high-maintenance than having 36 conversations about WHY you're not drinking!)

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 5, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I extend my heartfelt sympathies to those who have suffered the pain described above.

I don't mean this to be offensive, but I can't help but think of this question:

Of those of you who read the comment above and berated the person who said "It's not a baby yet" (whether you berated that person in written response or just with a shake of your head) are any of you pro-choice?

This is heartbreaking, for sure. But is it a baby only if the parents want it to be born, but otherwise an inconvenience and a choice if not, or are all the respondents on this blog simply pro-lifers?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Thank you newslinks1 for the "not drinking" tip. It is a stupid thing to worry about but it is already becoming annoying in a short period of time! I don't know if we should outright tell people we are trying but then I don't want everyone always asking if we are pregnant yet when it is bad enough that they are always asking us when we are going to start trying!

Posted by: sunflower571 | May 5, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I am 100% pro-choice. That didn't make my losses hurt any less. I think Emily put it best -- you've lost a potential baby, not an actual baby. But that loss of potential isn't insignificant. Wrapped up in that word "potential" are lots of dreams and hopes, and it's hard to let them go.

When I talk about my miscarriage and ectopic, I use the term "baby" instead of embryo or fetus because that's the accepted social shorthand. It's not necessarily a signifier that I think what I lost were actual, full-formed babies. Of course, the later in pregnancy one gets, the less clear the issue becomes -- that's why I'd imagine stillbirth or late-term losses are orders of magnitude more painful than first-trimester losses.

Posted by: newsahm | May 5, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

re: pro-choice, etc.
Really, the conversation we in this country do not have is whether or not abortion should be legal.
It's okay to think something is immoral, yet still want it to be legal (ie., what are the consequences to having it legal? illegal?).

newsahm: the 'accepted social shorthand' used to be fetus. There was a conscious effort from those who wish abortion to always be illegal to change that to baby in the 80s/90s, just FYI (not to knock ANYTHING you said, mind you - just a comment from a peanut).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | May 5, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I hear your argument newsahm, but the logic is philosophically a bit fuzzy.

After your miscarriage, would you have appreciated someone saying

"How awful! I'm so sorry for your loss of potential. Thank God it wasn't fully formed"?

I know, I know. Any well wisher should just say "I'm sorry for your loss." I agree. But given that this is an online discussion, I really am asking those who are pro-choice, what exactly are you sorry about losing? If it really is nothing but "potential" then you haven't lost much, because that potential can potentially be regained within the next four weeks. Or is it something more lost?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that in light of this discussion about the tragedy of miscarriage, the pro-choice defense breaks down to "It's immoral, but it should be legal."

BTW, I'm not even saying that I disagree with that, just trying to flex out some issues.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I am usually a lurker, but...
rr321:
If one regards an actual child as someone that has the potential to be an adult, then the comment "How awful! I'm so sorry for your loss of potential. Thank God it wasn't fully formed"? could also apply to a parent who has just lost their child- and I think it would be impossible to find something worse to say to that parent.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you (or society) regard the miscarried fetus as – all that matters is that, to the parents, that fetus would have been their baby. Those that actually care about you, as stated numerous times before this today, will understand that loss and do whatever they can to be supportive. Anyone else…

Posted by: potter4 | May 5, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of things that people do that I don't agree with, yet they shouldn't (or couldn't) be actually ILLEGAL. That's what I was saying.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | May 5, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 2:32 PM

RR, I do think you missed newsahm's point. To me, the pain WAS the loss of the potential. How could I have mourned the loss of anything specific, when my future baby was just a ball of cells? I don't know how you can mourn the loss of 64 or 128 individual cells; the only thing you can mourn is the loss of what those cells might become, and how they were going to change my life. It's the loss of hopes and dreams more than the loss of a particular child. And the real pain was in the not knowing whether we could/would ever have a child -- which is why "don't worry, you can just try again" didn't fly.

"I am sorry for your loss of potential" would have been great. Because it would have shown that someone really got what I was sad about. "Thank God it wasn't fully formed yet" -- well, hopes and dreams aren't dependent on how fully-formed that potential new life is; if someone had said that, it would have showed me that they DIDN'T get it.

I think babies are miracles. Especially after having been through what we went through -- it makes you realize how much we take for granted. But I also don't think I should get to decide what everyone else thinks, or that it's any of the government's business. And I just don't see the conflict between those beliefs. Really, it's a pretty Libertarian view of the appropriate role of individuals vs. government.

Posted by: laura33 | May 5, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

potter4,
I'm not understanding your point.

Are you saying that it doesn't matter what value one places on a fetus, it suffices that a person can be supportive of another who feels that she or he has experienced a loss through miscarriage simply because she or he is suffering?

I'll agree that any decent person would feel sympathy for and be supportive of another who is grieving, no matter if the reason for the grief is a miscarriage or the loss of a favorite house-plant.

I understand that, if that's what you're saying. If that's the case though, the question is with what loss (if any) does that supportive and sympathetic friend empathize if the very supportive friend is pro-choice?

In other words, how can someone who is pro-choice really feel that the miscarriage sufferer actually lost a baby? Or is that impossible?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"I hear your argument newsahm, but the logic is philosophically a bit fuzzy.

After your miscarriage, would you have appreciated someone saying

"How awful! I'm so sorry for your loss of potential. Thank God it wasn't fully formed"?

I know, I know. Any well wisher should just say "I'm sorry for your loss." I agree. But given that this is an online discussion, I really am asking those who are pro-choice, what exactly are you sorry about losing? If it really is nothing but "potential" then you haven't lost much, because that potential can potentially be regained within the next four weeks. Or is it something more lost?"

Appreciate? Of course not. Mind? Probably not. I know my losses weren't on par with losing a real, living, breathing child. Although since it took 18 months and a significant chunk of my life's savings to have a second child, I definitely do not appreciate the assumption that I (or anyone else) can simply replace a lost embryo the next month. There were entire months at a time when it looked like the ectopic would be my last pregnancy, and we didn't even have a particularly difficult time -- it only took us one fresh IVF cycle and one FET to have our second daughter.

I also think you discount the power of potential and the pain of losing it. As I type this, I'm snuggling my 12-week-old in my other arm. Looking at her face, feeling the weight of her snuggly body, every inch of it fiercely loved, I know this is what I lost. Those bundles of cells that died weren't babies yet, but they probably would have been. I would have held them and loved them and delighted in seeing the people they became. "Potential" may be a clumsy word to describe all of that, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment. And the loss of that potential hurts.

And lest there be any confusion, let me state for the record that no only do I think abortion should remain legal, I also do not think it's morally wrong in most circumstances. I'm aware that this stance makes my view on miscarriage hypocritical, and I'm ok with that.

Posted by: newsahm | May 5, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

laura,
Your response is thought provoking.

You'll recall that my original question referenced what simonecoyle wrote at 8:41:

"my favorite was 'well, it wasn't really a BABY yet, was it?'"

The tone that I read from this post was that, yes, it was a baby, at least to simonecoyle. Now it seems like we're breaking it down to

"No, simonecoyle, that person was right, albeit not terribly tactful. It wasn't really a baby. Just cells. We do however sympathize with your loss of potential baby in the future that will no longer materialize, and we certainly empathize with any concern you might have about the lowered statistical likelihood of your ever delivering an actual baby."

How else can a pro-choice person honestly feel?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

newsahm,

I am NOT discounting the pain whatsoever. And I'm not picking on you for using the term "potential." I wouldn't be able to think of any better.

I think you answered the question, at least for yourself, in your last line admitting hypocricy.

That's my point.

But we're all guilty of that on one issue or another.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

My SIL had had a miscarriage before her first baby. Then she had one when her oldest was almost two. She came to my parents' 40th wedding anniversary just a couple of days after that D&C. I thought she was incredibly brave, and tried to be as supportive as I could, without being intrusive.

Two years later, I miscarried just a week after learning of my third pregnancy, and it was so good to be able to talk to my SIL. I'd had pretty significant fertility issues (10 years trying before the first pregnancy, but *only* five years for the second!), and I've never conceived again.

I saw only one person who's mentioned giving a name to the child-that-might-have-been. It really helped me to think of "her" by name - we had two boys, and we were all hoping to add a girl to our family, but I never actually knew the gender.

Then a year later my sister lost a nearly-five-months pregnancy when she was in a car accident. When we talked about it, I suggested the naming, and learned that she'd spontaneously named the little boy she'd lost as soon as he'd been expelled from her uterus. And she also took comfort from that naming.

None of us talk very much about our lost pregnancies, anymore, but it was comforting to know someone close who truly understood, because she'd been there too.

And SIL is pretty definitely pro-life, but my sister and I are pro-choice. It doesn't matter a bit...

Posted by: SueMc | May 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

SueMc,

Imagine someone whom you care about is trying to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Maybe she has all the classic reasons for doing so; the baby would cost her her education, she is not prepared to support it, etc.

However, she has a terrible sense of guilt and foreboding loss if she goes through with it.

Would you suggest to her that she "name the little boy" before going ahead with the procedure?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

rr -- How else can a pro-choice person actually feel? Seriously?

Pro-choice people are not some weird, different, monolithic species. We are as varied as pro-life people are. I can believe an embryo is a "baby" without believing that it's the government's job to tell me what I can do with it. I can believe that an embryo is just a bunch of cells, and still mourn the loss of its potential. I can believe that a baby is part of a collective of souls, and that if it is not born now, it will have its chance later. I can believe that each collection of cells is a one-time genetic shot, and that the loss of one is a mini-tragedy, because that particular combination of genes will never have another chance to walk the face of the earth.

What I believe -- or don't believe -- has nothing to do with how I "honestly feel" in response to a miscarriage. The only thing I "honestly feel" is that my friend has suffered a terrible loss, and that's all that matters. It's about empathy, not politics -- feeling someone else's pain, not projecting your own views onto them. If my friend is hurting, why does it even matter whether she thinks she "actually lost a baby" vs. "lost the potential for a baby"? And why should I even need to define what she think she lost vs. what I think she lost? It's her loss, she gets to decide what it means and how much it matters to her. Names and definitions are all irrelevant; no matter what you call it, it's pain. So my job is to figure out how to help and support her in her pain. Period.

My mom is as pro-choice as they come. She never saw my miscarriages as more than a bunch of cells, period. And yet, she was my rock when they happened. Because she didn't make it about what SHE thought I had lost. The only thing that mattered to her was that her baby was hurting, and she was going to help and support me no matter what. Grief should never be politicized.

Posted by: laura33 | May 5, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

laura,
I think you stated my point. If someone is pro-choice, then that person can certainly feel sympathy for the grief of one who suffered, but I don't see how that person can empathize with the feeling that the sufferer lost a baby. That's how you described your Mom at least. I'm not saying that a pro-choice person can't be supportive or sympathetic or a good friend or a good person. Simply that he or she cannot empathize with the feeling that the person lost a baby. Or if he or she does, it's hypocritical, as newsahm pointed out.

Your mention that "I can believe that an embryo is a 'baby' without believing that it's the government's job to tell me what I can do with it."

With this I patently disagree. Do you not believe that it's the government's job to tell anyone what he or she can do with a baby who has already been born? Is it not the government's job to mandate that parents feed their babies and care for them? Is it not the government's job to prevent people from feeding their babies crack cocaine? If you agree that it is in fact the government's job to do that, then you can't say without distinction "I can believe that an embryo is a baby without believing that it's the government's job to tell me what I can do with it." Unless you mean, "I can believe it's a baby, sort of, not really."

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

But given that this is an online discussion, I really am asking those who are pro-choice, what exactly are you sorry about losing? If it really is nothing but "potential" then you haven't lost much, because that potential can potentially be regained within the next four weeks. Or is it something more lost?


To me, it was a loss of potential, but this was not an insignificant lost. Perhaps not as great a loss as a fully formed baby, but still. I had hopes and dreams about the child from the moment I discovered I was pregnant, since we had been actively trying to conceive. And I did not know if I would eventually successfully birth a second child. So my miscarriages represented a loss of those dreams, for the moment at least, with no guarantee that another child was in our future. My experience with miscarriages did change the way that I feel about abortion, or at least added some nuanced dimensions to it. I am still pro-choice, but I also believe that abortions should be done as early in the pregnancy as possible. At 12 weeks, what I saw in the sonogram was a baby, not a bunch of cells. I don't think I personally could have aborted at that stage of the pregnancy, when I could see a head, a body, arms, legs, fingers, etc. In a way, I am thankful that my sonograms never showed a baby at that stage. I was easier to let them go knowing that they had not developed that far yet.

Posted by: emily8 | May 5, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

emily8,
that's a fascinating personal account. I seriously mean that.

Some readers here are assuming that I'm pro-life, and that's not necessarily the case. But I'm not pro-choice either.

I'm very much undecided, but not without opinions. I do like to examine things on a fundamental, philosophical level that goes far deeper than the conventional rhetoric of "life begins the moment two cells meet" or "get the government out of my uterus."

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

rr, I would be horrified to think the the charming 2-year old clump of cells that is my daughter would be forced to share her body with anybody she doesn't choose to, male or female, husband or boss, adult or child. While I'm okay with the idea of expecting a woman to make a choice prior to third trimester, the idea that she would have no choice at all just nauseates me.
The very basis of freedom is ownership of your own body, and freedom to decide who to share it with. I call anything less slavery.
What I find interesting is that over half of the pro-life folks I know refuse to sign their organ donor cards, in spite of their stance on the sacredness of life, in spite of the fact that around half a dozen lives could be saved, at no inconvenience to themselves if they did so. I've signed mine (which you might find ironic) but would never force anyone else to do so, although I strongly see it as a moral obligation. There are just some moral obligations that need to be done freely, carrying a child to term is among them.

Posted by: pinkoleander | May 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

@rr321 - You're not listening. The question you asked was how a pro-choice person feels after having suffered a miscarriage. Not how a pro-life person thinks a pro-choice should feel. Are you trying to learn or project?

We suffered a miscarriage at about 3 months in my wife's first pregnancy. This was actually shortly after we broke the big news over a Thanksgiving vacation. Second to the sudden death of my father-in-law, it was the most heart breaking experience of my life. We found out a lot over that period of time. Each person deals with grief differently and that coriolis force can drive you apart. It was a loss and it was real. We also learned of an unspoken community who had suffered this loss. It helped. We later learned that good friends of ours had a miscarriage around the same time.

So, yes, a pro-choice person can and does grieve after a miscarriage. I'm glad that I've never had a friend or acquaintance react the way you feel is proper.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 5, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, rr, I have to go see my babies now, so I don't have time to get into a political argument with you. But fundamentally, yes, I do believe that legally, there is -- and should be -- a difference between a viable baby that can survive outside the womb and one that has not yet reached that point and depends on the mother's body to sustain life. I can believe it is a "baby" pre-viability and still not think it's the government's business.

What I don't get is why you seem to believe that the ability to feel pain -- or empathize with that pain -- is contingent on fitting something into the box of "baby." Because, what, anything else is somehow less pain-worthy? My ability to feel pain, and empathize with the pain of others, is not limited by what label I put on either myself or them.

And, yes, I do mean empathize, not sympathize. I know first-hand what the pain of a miscarriage is. Label it whatever you like; whether you call it the loss of hopes and dreams or the loss of a "baby" doesn't change the magnitude pain one bit.

Posted by: laura33 | May 5, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

rr321 - I've debated responding to your post...there is nothing wrong with the questions you raise but was it really necessary to do it here. It really side-tracked the original intentions of the blog on a rather sensitive subject.

But to answer your question I am pro-choice. And I don't feel like it's contridictory to feel it is a loss when one has a miscarriage or still-birth - I know I refer to them as my babies because that's how I imagined them. Rationally I understand that at 19 wks my little one was just a fetus, although with my first at 39 weeks I'll stick with baby. But truthfully as much as I mourn them both I never really think of them as people. I never held either as a living breathing baby - neither ever had a real identity.

Their loss although incredibly sad to me is not the same as someone's baby dying. I just don't equate unborn babies with born babies. So I don't feel hypocritical.

Posted by: a1icia | May 5, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh as an add on...

It's just commonsense that it would be incredibly insentive to tell someone who has suffered a pregancy loss (at any point) that it's not the same as someone's baby dying - they are still mourning a very real loss and it's not going to make them feel better. And isn't that what one is trying to do, offer comfort not worry about a politcal stance.

Posted by: a1icia | May 5, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

laura and fairlington,

You're reading into my comments things that I never said and you're further projecting me into some political archetype that I am not. For the record, I am undecided on this issue.

Fairlington, you write:
"@rr321 - You're not listening. The question you asked was how a pro-choice person feels after having suffered a miscarriage. Not how a pro-life person thinks a pro-choice should feel. Are you trying to learn or project?"

I'm not sure what you're getting at by telling me what question I did not ask.

When I ask "How does a pro-choice person feel after a miscarriage?" I don't mean that with the tone "That sick liberal hippie better not be sad."

I seriously mean it exactly as I said before--does that person believe she suffered the loss of a baby? Or in the case of a friend's suffering, does she believe the friend lost a baby?

That's it. Nothing more. I'm not projecting anything. And I want to learn.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"I just don't equate unborn babies with born babies. So I don't feel hypocritical."

Nor should you. That's not hypocritical in the least.

I'm sorry if my examining of these issues brought pain to readers of this blog. I really am. I didn't mean for that to happen.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

a1icia - I think we all find ways of framing our situations in a way that we can live with them. You don't equate a living, breathing baby with an unborn baby. I don't equate a 6 week old embryo with a 12 week old fetus. I would imagine that losing a toddler is harder than losing a newborn. But these are very human things that we do to process our experiences and find a way to keep on living.

In the end, some losses are harder than others. It is situational. So is the pain of a pro-lifer's miscarriage greater than that of pro-choicer's? My sense is that regardless of your political beliefs, or the name that you use for the unborn child, fetus, baby, embryo, etc, the emotions are probably similar if the losses are under similar circumstances.
No matter what they think it is, most people have not been able to bond with a 6 week old embryo in the same way that they have bonded with a living, breathing child. I don't think people have to have the same political beliefs to be able to relate to each others' pain.

Posted by: emily8 | May 5, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

laura,
My comments IN CAPS:

What I don't get is why you seem to believe that the ability to feel pain -- or empathize with that pain -- is contingent on fitting something into the box of "baby."

I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT AT ALL.

Because, what, anything else is somehow less pain-worthy? My ability to feel pain, and empathize with the pain of others, is not limited by what label I put on either myself or them.

AGREED.

And, yes, I do mean empathize, not sympathize. I know first-hand what the pain of a miscarriage is.

I AM SORRY FOR THAT, TRULY.

Label it whatever you like; whether you call it the loss of hopes and dreams or the loss of a "baby" doesn't change the magnitude pain one bit.

I DIDN'T CALL IT ANYTHING. I DIDN'T LABEL IT ANYTHING. I ASKED THE QUESTIONS, OTHERS GAVE ME THE LABELS.

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, I'VE ENJOYED THE DISCUSSION WITH YOU AND OTHERS. I HAVE NO AX TO GRIND OR POLITICAL AGENDA. JUST CURIOUS.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I think emily8 has one of the best posts at 4:29.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Would you suggest to her that she "name the little boy" before going ahead with the procedure?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 3:38 PM

No, that wouldn't be helpful to her and would probably cause her a great deal of pain.

I'd probably go with her to "the procedure" and hold her hand during it - if she wanted me to - and certainly listen, and listen, and listen if whe wanted to talk afterwards.

I would never, ever, ever, under any circumstances do anything that I knew was likely to cause my friend more pain or unhappiness than she was already experiencing.

Posted by: SueMc | May 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Sue,

My point in that question was that for you and your sister, it eased your pain to personify the unborn baby by naming it.

For the person who anticipated struggling with the same loss [biologically or anatomically at least] but the loss through her own choice, it probably wouldn't be helpful to personify the baby, like you said.

Interesting. Maybe contradictory?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

rr - I also think that you have to consider the perceived potential of a welcome pregnancy versus one that is unwelcome. The potential for each may be quite different, and therefore, miscarriage and abortion may not be comparable losses. Just an example: In a pregnancy that is wanted, a miscarriage can represent a lost of a potential baby and all the associated joy that comes with it. In the situation of an unwanted pregnancy, the person may be seeing a loss of future opportunities or freedom. So an abortion, under those circumstances, might actually represent a different kind of potential.

Posted by: emily8 | May 5, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

To rr, I think your initial question seemed sincere and fair but you've gone off on a tangent here. I've had an abortion, a miscarriage and am a proud mother to 2 healthy children. You've set up a straw man asking about grieving for a loss. Because a woman (w/or w/o her partner) chooses to terminate doesn't mean she is incapable of grief or empathy for that choice or any other. You don't seem to realize that the parsing of medical or legal terms have little to do with the regulation of human emotions. It doesn't have to make sense to you that I've never regretted the abortion I had 17 years ago; felt deeply upset by my miscarriage and celebrate every day of my children's lives. I am sorry for you that you don't seem to be able to understand or empathize with another human being without the made-up political game of it all. There you have it from a person who believes in a woman's right to control her body and her future.

Posted by: flabbergast | May 5, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

emily8,
absolutely true.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I just want to add that my political opinion - that an abortion should be a legal choice that any woman can make in consultation with her medical care providers - doesn't mean that I could ever imagine any circumstances when I would choose to abort my own pregnancy.

I wanted each and every one of my pregnancies to result in a living healthy baby. I went through a great deal during the ten years of infertility treatments before my first child. But I don't believe my desire to have children should somehow rule over any other woman's choice to not have a child, or her decision to not have this one right now at this particular time in her life.

A miscarriage is the loss of something that was wanted. An abortion is not. Attempting to equate the two is an invalid argument.

Posted by: SueMc | May 5, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@rr321 - The question to which I referred is "How else can a pro-choice person actually feel? Seriously?" If that's what you wanted to learn, then you're received ample response. Regardless of your stance, some of your comments read like a pro-life parody. The truly priceless one was comparison to loss of a favorite house plant. Don't worry about causing pain though. It's just the net.

@a1icia - I gave some thought as to if I was doing a little troll feeding. What I've noticed about the responses is that people are continuing to tell their stories about dealing with miscarriage.

The most surprising thing about the experience was the following pregnancy. When we broke the news that we were expecting again, the reaction was surprising. None of our parents seemed that happy for us. I know that we'd had a bad experience, but this was good news.

Our doctor sent us for an early ultrasound. We were frightened at what might happen, though relieved we wouldn't have to wait for weeks. As it happened, the result was unexpected - TWINS (now 3 1/2 years old). I know that we wouldn't have our little boys had we not gone through the miscarriage. Funny how life works out.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 5, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

flabbergast,

You clearly read my posts with strong, inherent biases and in your mind projected opinions from me that do not exist and a persona that is not true.

I never once said or implied that a woman who chooses to terminate is incapable of grief or empathy. I never even asked that. I certainly don't think that she would be incapable of such emotion.

I simply asked, in so many words, "Does that woman believe that she lost a baby?"

Beyond that, if you can't read my discussion points without your reason being clouded by emotion or bias, then I apologize for upsetting you, as it was not my intention.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Emily,

Just wanted to say I agree with almost everything you've said today, and you've put things more artfully than I could have.

Posted by: newsahm | May 5, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

For the person who anticipated struggling with the same loss [biologically or anatomically at least] but the loss through her own choice, it probably wouldn't be helpful to personify the baby, like you said.

Interesting. Maybe contradictory?

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 4:40 PM

I don't see it as contradictory...

In our hypothetical discussion of the friend who chose to abort in spite of her conflicting emotions, if she wanted to talk about it afterwards, and it seemed that it would be helpful to her, I *might* make the name-the-baby suggestion. Remember this hypothetical situation is a close friend, and I think I would know my close friend well enough to know whether or not the suggestion would be helpful or hurtful.

But I wouldn't make the name suggestion before, because that would be a deliberate manipulation of her feelings and her decision. I don't believe I have the right to do that to anyone, but especially not to someone I care about.

Posted by: SueMc | May 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Fairlington,
MY COMMENTS ARE IN CAPS

@rr321 - The question to which I referred is "How else can a pro-choice person actually feel? Seriously?"

WHAT I MEANT WAS, AS I'VE BEEN ASKING ALL ALONG, IS "DOES A PRO-CHOICER BELIEVE THAT IT IS A LOSS OF A BABY?"

If that's what you wanted to learn, then you're received ample response.

I THANK YOU FOR POINTING THIS OUT. ARE YOU IMPLYING THAT I AM NO LONGER WELCOME TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION?

Regardless of your stance, some of your comments read like a pro-life parody.

WOULDN'T A COMMENT THAT IS A PRO-LIFE PARODY ACTUALLY BE PRO-CHOICE? BUT SINCE I THINK YOU MEAN THAT I SOUND PRO-LIFE, THAT IS PROBABLY BECAUSE THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION THAT I RAISED, (AGAIN, IS IT LOSING A BABY?) IF ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, AS "SIMONECOYLE" IMPLIED, THEN THAT WOULD GENERALLY BE AN ARGUMENT AGAINST LEGALIZED ABORTION. REMEMBER, THE COMMENT THAT STARTED THIS WAS WHEN SIMONECOYLE SAID HOW SHE WAS UPSET WHEN SOMEONE TOLD HER "IT WASN'T A BABY" OR SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES.

The truly priceless one was comparison to loss of a favorite house plant.

THE POINT OF THE COMPARISON IS ONE THAT IS OFTEN USED IN ANY SORT OF ETHICAL OR PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION--IT MAKES IT EASIER TO DEFINE THE BASELINE FOR ANY JUDGMENT. I WAS SAYING THAT CERTAINLY A GOOD PERSON WOULD BE SYMPATHETIC TO ANOTHER FOR ANY GRIEF, NO MATTER HOW INSIGNIFICANT, EVEN IF THAT WAS THE OTHERWISE HIGHLY INSIGNIFICANT (BY MOST MORAL STANDARDS) LOSS OF A PLANT. I DID NOT IMPLY THAT ANYONE EQUATES A MISCARRIAGE WITH THE DEATH OF A PLANT.

Don't worry about causing pain though. It's just the net.

I HAVE NOT MEANT TO CAUSE YOU PAIN. IF YOU DON'T WISH TO DISCUSS THIS, YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO ABSTAIN.

Posted by: rr321 | May 5, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Here is the last thought that I have with respect to miscarriage and its attendant emotions. In hindsight, would I have things differently? My daughter came after 3 miscarriages, and I love her as much as I love life itself. Had any of those other pregnancies taken, my daughter, in all her uniqueness, would not be here right now. So it's a complicated thing. What I once considered to be a loss of one dream actually resulted in the fruition of a different dream, a different child.

This does not just apply to miscarriage. It is the way life works. One lost opportunity does not mean the end of dreams or hope. You have to take the long view and realize that there is always going to be another opportunity for another dream. That can be hard to see when you are in the middle of mourning any loss though.

Posted by: emily8 | May 5, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Let me put it to you in simple terms rr.

As mentioned before, a person can feel differently about something depending on their circumstances. Sometimes there's nothing better than a big slice of pizza and a beer, but if you've had pizza everyday for the last week, or if you are suffering from the stomach flu, the same meal set if front of you could send running to the bathroom.

If you want a baby, there nothing better than being pregnant and nothing sadder than miscarriage. If you don't, then pregnancy can feel like a prison sentence.

In general my feeling is you don't need the government telling you what to eat or whether to be pregnant or not.

Posted by: pinkoleander | May 5, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I would suspect that the potential causing of pain would be to someone who wasn't posting. Perhaps someone who is dealing with a very recent miscarriage.

Those of us who are posting all seem to have had at least a couple of years to process our losses, and to develop some callouses so to speak, instead of still having a raw open wound for you to rub salt into.

A little more consideration for the anonymous reader in such a situation - that was how I read it.

Posted by: SueMc | May 5, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@flabbergast - Thank you for sharing that. It's a very interesting perspective. I am sorry for your loss. I occasionally wonder about the baby we never had.

@rr - I think you did equate grief for a favorite house plant with grief over a miscarriage. I didn't suggest that you stop posting, just that you weren't listening. To which I would add, turn off the caps lock key.

I've contributed my story and perspective, so am done for the day.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 5, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Can we get back to the topic, instead of arguing back and forth on pro-choice vs. pro-life ?

As for naming, I named the child that was born at 1 lb, and died right after birth (Douglas), but not the one which was born dead at five months. Don't ask me why the difference, I don't know.

I told my son when his brother died (the first one mentioned). My son was 7 years old. He just sat in my lap and cried. So did I with him.

Posted by: observer31 | May 5, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Agreed observer31, today's discussion was hijacked.

rr, 45 years of life has taught me that the best way to learn something is by listening, not by talking. I would go so far as to say your posts are not presently welcome on this topic. Out of 70 response prior to mine, The first 26 were from people rsponding to the question asked. Of the following 44 posts, 16 were from you. I calculate that to be more than 1/3 of the posts from your first post to the one from observer31 at 8:27pm. That's poor netiquette and you should refrain from posting on this topic on that basis alone. But your transgressions don't stop there. In your second post you accused someone of fuzzy logic. If what you wanted was to learn, you should have refrained from that comment and further, spent less time defending your supposed ambiguity on this topic.

Posted by: janedoe5 | May 6, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Feb. 19, 2009 I miscarried identical twin boys at 20weeks. The previous weekend my husband and I decided on names, Caden and Casey, and went crazy outlet shopping for baby boy clothes. Feeling great that following Wednesday morning at the doctor's office, I had no idea that I had lost both of my two little boys. These past 3 months have been the darkest, saddest, angriest and most confusing time of my life.

I was more than cautious in my pregnancy. Working in the medical field I was well aware of what not to do when you are expecting. I saught out the best medical advice when I felt I was not being cared for efficiently. I did my research, I said my prayers, I took my prenatals and all the other supplements for twins I was on religiously. I still lost my babies.

My husband is in the military and currently in training Mondays-Fridays in another state. I am only able to see him on the weekends when we are both exhausted from our jobs and our emotions. I am blessed that he has been so supportive...I know I have been a mess to deal with.

We had a memorial service for Caden and Casey two days after they were born. My husband carried the casket from the funeral home's car to the table above their grave in his dress uniform...an image I can never get out of my head.

I went to a support group that I came across through my hospital and have found a lot of comfort in it. I was skeptical at first, not wanting to share my intimate story with complete strangers. However I now realize that talking about my boys is the most comforting and has helped the most in my healing process. My advice to those who are considering a support group is to go with an open mind only when you are ready. Don't rush yourself into it. If you are uncomfortable and do not find the meeting helpful, leave and don't look back.

I have also found a lot of support through family and friends who have also experianced a miscarriage. Such a taboo topic, I had no idea these women had felt the same pain I am feeling now. It's like a secret society that once you are in, you can never get out of.

Thank you for writing this article. This is something that should not be ignored or quieted. So many women have lost babies...why are we just NOW starting to talk about it?

Posted by: MMonday | May 6, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

@MMonday - You have my deepest sympathy for the loss of Caden and Casey. I remember those days shortly after we lost our baby at 13 weeks. My wife was cautious about telling anyone; I was telling the woman at the coffee shop about it. Being able to talk openly helped as I learned just how many people I knew suffered this loss. It sounds like you have a great partner and I wish you all the best.

Paul

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 6, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Ok, here's my story. Second pregnancy never developed past 13 weeks...at the office ultrasound at 9 weeks (previous pregnancy the heartbeat was picked up). My doctor said the baby was undeveloped embryo...send me for a "bigger" ultrasound. It look that I miscarried...however a two weeks later I hemmoraged and had to have an emergency D&C. I only had one ovary and endometriosis...was already told I would not have kids...thankfully I had my daughter at this point. What ticks me off is that everyone thinks I need to mourn this loss. I handled it fine, sent my husband back to work, took care of my three year old. I conceived one year later and gave birth to another healthy daughter. When others find out I miscarried they question why I'm not sad, weepy at the anniversary of that pregnancy's due date. I am cold? No, I just deal with my emotions differently.

Posted by: Pennagirl | May 12, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I miscarried twice before having my daughter. The first was at 9 weeks, after having seen a heartbeat, and was really tough to go through. I still feel some sadness about that potential child. The second was just a few months later at 6 weeks. I hadn't bonded as much to that one, although I was at that point concerned about whether we would ever be successful.

In both cases it was amazing how many people came forward to talk about their miscarriages, from my boss to my aunts and cousins. Time alone walking and thinking helped me to get through some of the sadness, and time talking with other women helped me to get back some of my confidence and emotional health.

I am pro-choice. I think the love of a mother and her (and her partner's) willingness to bond with the fetus and plan a life around the baby's arrival makes the difference between "just a collection of cells" that one could consider terminating and "a potential baby" that one grieves for when it doesn't make it.

Posted by: foxes_garden | May 12, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to throw this out there for those of you who may want to help support the cause of preventing miscarriage and infant death. The March of Dimes has a March for Babies in dozens of cities including DC and Baltimore every year. I just walked for the second time in Baltimore two weekends ago, in the rain, and had a wonderful time. I got involved when a friend of mine experienced a stillbirth, and now I walk with a friend who lost a baby at 20 weeks. Heartbreaking, and happens all too often.

Posted by: daisy427 | May 14, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

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