In keeping with the vision of Scarred Joy this second post for the month of October 2017 does not shy away from painful experiences in life. Pregnancy loss is one of those experiences that try one’s soul. Pregnancy loss means a baby died before he or she was born. That in itself is painful.
Included in a book I co-authored earlier this year called Good Grief People was a story I wrote called “Skipped Heart Beats.” It was written as an expression of the promise I made to my five grandchildren who never made it to birth due to pregnancy losses. I promised these babies they would never be forgotten. In my way of thinking if they are remembered and loved they are never really “lost.”
After talking with mothers who experienced pregnancy loss as well as communicating through email etc. from others, it is obvious that it hurts. Pregnancy loss leaves scars. Some of the things people say only add to the pain. Things like, “don’t worry you can have other babies” or the ever popular religious spin, “God must have needed your baby.” I mean, come on! Sensitive and meaningful words are in order not empty clichés!
The significance of pregnancy loss is underrated in our culture. To the moms and dads, siblings and grandparents, etc. who experience this loss it is a stark reality in life. Joy turns to deep sorrow. Anticipation becomes disappointment. Dreams turn to earth-shattering finality. Grief may become chronic.
Perhaps more than anyone else it is the baby’s mother who feels the depth of this painful loss. The following words are from my daughter. She is a mom who has experienced pregnancy loss multiple times. She agreed to contribute a few statements regarding her experience for readers to reflect on.
“… I don’t think most people realize this, when the mother “loses” the baby the stages of labour are the same but on a smaller scale depending on how far along they are. Their body contracts, and labours as it does with “term births”. That’s just something I’ve never ever seen mentioned in any form of pregnancy loss posts anywhere. And one of the reasons the mothers often carry that pain, is because they remember the “births” of all their children…
… It is just like a “D&C.” A D&C is performed when the “tissue” (meaning baby) doesn’t pass through the mother on its own. It is the same procedure as an abortion/termination. It’s hard for the mother to grasp she is going through that same procedure and she wonders how could anyone do this voluntarily with a beating heart?” The doctors refer to it as an “accidental abortion”. That’s an actual technical term in my obstetricians chart for me.
… I remember my first pregnancy very well, but …I had nothing to compare it to. Sometime after I had my son is when I experienced my second loss, I remember the pain and remembered it from when I was labouring with my son. I had to hold my husband’s hand because I needed his strength or something, and I squeezed it as I did during every contraction like I did while labouring with our son. Each one that followed was the same…there was no mistaking what was happening. The only difference is, the doctors just say “let it run its course” and they check your levels every couple of days to make sure they drop and if they don’t they proceed with a d&c. The care is nothing like they give you after a term baby (yet your body recovers the same) in my experience anyway.”
I appreciate the honesty in my daughter’s words. If her experience is a typical one in the context of pregnancy loss then it is certainly a sad and memorable one. Doctors may consider this loss an “accidental abortion” yet it is also the death of a baby.
Perhaps babies who were conceived yet never made it to birth don’t matter to most people. The world carries on with no regard or regret for those little ones. To mom’s like my daughter and dads like my son-in-law, however, these “lost” babies indeed matter. Their lives were brief but they have not been forgotten.