I’m on a mission. There are millions of women out there who are suffering in silence. Suffering from fertility struggles, unexplained issues with their reproductive health, pregnancy loss in all the ways a loss can happen during pregnancy. There’s a lot of work to do in this realm. Things need to change. We can normalize this, so that no one feels left out, isolated, ashamed or cast aside.
I don’t know what needs to change first, but our lexicon definitely needs to shift. Did you know that there are only 2 words to describe pregnancy loss in the medical community, miscarriage and stillborn, and that’s it? A miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy lost up to 20 weeks and 0 days. A stillborn is a loss starting at 20 weeks and 1 day of the gestational period. Technically speaking, I had a miscarriage. I delivered 2 babies preterm, too small to survive outside the womb, and all I get to say, medically, is that I had a miscarriage. Recently I just heard of a woman who delivered a baby at 39 weeks and the baby died during birth. This is considered a stillborn. This is ALL WE HAVE and is desperately needs to change.
I like saying pregnancy loss better, but I don’t even like the word loss. A pregnancy that did not go to full term? A pregnancy that did not result in babies coming home with us? I work with a spiritual intuitive, and she channels spirit babies, those who have been born and left their bodies, and those who have yet to come to earth. What she said the spirit babies say to her the most is that they are not lost. They are just not on earth. Now, as a mother of angels, this is hard, so hard. I struggle every day to discover how I can mother our babies when they are not here in my arms. And I think they are right, these spirit babies. The word loss is a somewhat careless description of what happened. It’s a word that is easy to use but empty from meaning. The only way it’s going to change, is if we change it.
Recently I’ve had a lot of conversations about pregnancy struggles and how families become a family. I talked to one friend who said she was in a prenatal class, and a woman in the class was 16 weeks pregnant and when she introduced herself, she said “I just hope I can keep coming and that this pregnancy sticks”. I spoke with another woman who agreed that normalizing all of our experiences needs to happen, because even a mother with 4 children could have potentially had many pregnancies that did not make it full term. I know someone who has had more than 10 pregnancies that have not resulted in a full term baby. This is often an everyday occurrence for women all around the world, most likely in your own neighborhood.
There are other complications with this as well. Some women lose a pregnancy and do not have adequate health coverage and end up with an astronomical bill, to pay for the delivery of a baby that is no longer with them. I can’t imagine anything hurting more than having that happen. Insult to injury to the extreme.
Also, pregnancy loss does not happen to the mother, it happens to the couple (if she has a partner). Often the partner who was not pregnant handles the situation in their own unique way. It can be isolating and just as painful, just in a different way, for their partner. I haven’t come across any non-hetero couples who have experienced pregnancy loss, but I’m sure it happens often. Any couple needs support, love and care when they have experienced such sadness and devastation.
We are not meant to be alone in this experience. There is an entire community out there of parents who do not have their babies earthside, and who are going through tremendous pain, sadness and who are feeling alone. My hope is that more and more people, if they choose this is right for them, open up about their experience. I am, obviously, an open book about our sons Nicholas and Lucas. I am not ashamed of our experience. I know we are not alone and that there are so many couples who need to hear the story of our sons. And we need to hear their stories as well.
Our babies deserve to have their lives be known, even as short as they are. A woman who has experienced a pregnancy ending early has done nothing wrong. No one is to blame. It is my deepest hope that pregnancy loss can not only become normalized, but gain a new lexicon to be spoken of in a light that is not degrading, shameful, guilt inducing or painful in any way.
Soldier on warrior parents, I stand by you in solidarity. We need community, we need each other. Together we can rise above and normalize what is every day life for us and our families.