Sunday, January 09, 2005

Who Doesn't Miss Carrie?

We heard last week about another friend whose baby died in the first trimester.

Before I ever got pregnant I had my father’s attitude toward miscarriage. Let’s call it “Scientific Objectivism as Alternate Reality to Emotional Pain.” I would say, well that probably means something was wrong with the embryo anyway, so it’s just as well.

Then I got pregnant. And then I terminated a pregnancy at 20 weeks.

Now when I hear about someone who miscarries I want to clean off my dresser top and light my little doula meditation candle and send love and comfort into the universe for the woman and her family.

A major disappointment of today’s medical care is that most obstetrical practices don’t want to see you until you’re out of the treacherous first trimester. The message this has always sent to me is “your pregnancy doesn’t count unless you can get it past week 12.” (I’m not the first person to feel that “miscarriage” is a blaming word; “spontaneous abortion” is another term for the same thing and though it brings up the culturally charged word “abortion,” at least it focuses the action on the fetus).

Unfortunately, the most support many women will need in their reproductive lives is during those first 12 weeks when the vast majority of spontaneous abortions occur. In terms of emotional assistance and help making sense of a scary time, doctors tend to get involved a little late in the game.

I haven’t seen any appealing print materials on miscarriage. The ones that actually have useful things to say are printed in black and white with line illustrations by the same person who did your middle school puberty pamphlets.

The internet has lots of good information. If you enjoy the company of other women who’ve been through the loss wringer, there are blogs such as chezmiscarriage and alittlepregnant, among many. For information, you might consider SharedJourney.com, for chat groups, silentgrief.com. A good list of on-line support resources is available at babylosskit.com, though the site is nauseatingly “gentle.”

I’m big on rituals and ceremonies. For unwillingly unpregnant women, finding a rite to acknowledge the pregnancy, their baby’s death, and their role as grieving mothers can be very therapeutic. No site I could find was devoted to rituals for mothers of spontaneously aborted babies. But these had some good thoughts: here (based in Judaism), here (based in Zen Buddhism), and here (atheistic).

If you are in the midst of a miscarriage or are healing from one, I am so sorry for your loss.

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