Talk of Miscarriages Taboo? Or Just a Sad, Lonely Mystery?

Though they both happened long ago, they are still among two of the worst experiences of my life.

I'm talking about miscarriages.  Now a new study is finding that most people don't know the first thing about them, and what causes them. 

It's not stress.  It's not doing something wrong.  It's not even alcohol or smoking.  It's almost always genetic -- something wrong with the chromosomes in the fetus.

And even though this may soothe, somewhat, the women who suffer them, we still suffer shame, guilt and heart-breaking sadness.  The worst part?  No one talks about it.

I remember after finally becoming pregnant with my son, mentioning in passing to a salesperson that I'd had two miscarriages (I can't for the life of me remember why!), and this huge look of relief spread over his face.  "My wife had one!" he said.  You don't tell people because you feel like you are defective.  Your body let you down, couldn't do it, especially someone like me who went through years of infertility treatments only to experience the joy of a positive pregnancy test, twice  -- and then, nothing. The first time, it was a complete shock.  Then the crash.

In the study, 47 percent of the women (and men!) reported feeling guilty, 41 percent felt they had done something wrong, 41 percent reported feeling alone and 28 percent reported feeling ashamed. Only 45 percent felt they had received adequate emotional support from the medical community.

Thirty-six percent of participants—including those who had never experienced pregnancy loss—reported that suffering a miscarriage would be extremely upsetting, equivalent to losing a child.

I remember the gift I received from a website for women who had been through this.  It called me a "parent."  Even though my child had not made it, I was still a mother.

It helped me to overcome the feeling that my babies -- ok, so they were just a bunch of cells -- didn't just not ever happen.  For the very shortest time they had been alive.  They had been my child. 

I planted two trees outside our front door in the six months I lost both pregnancies.  One is now taller than the house.  If this child had lived, he/she would be 17 years old.  That's pretty hard to fathom.

My son now is almost 14 and, no question, he's dulled a lot of the pain. But you never quite get over those lives that weren't meant to be.  Was it a daughter?  Another son?  I know now you can find out, but I didn't, at the time, and it's one of the things that still eats at me.

But life goes on.  I'm busy running to soccer games and middle school assemblies and there's not much time (or need) to think of those almost-babies.  But every once in a while I do, and then I  remember the saddest word in the English language.  If. 



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