Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loss for Words

I think every woman who's had a miscarriage must hate the word. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive (you'll forgive me for that, right?), but miscarriage sounds judgmental. It's that prefix. Mis- means "wrongly" or "incorrectly." Which just makes me think I did something wrong, because I was the one carrying. If only I'd held onto that baby correctly!

For similar reasons, I cannot bring myself to say, "I lost the baby." Really? You lost the baby? How shitty of a mother do you have to be to lose a baby - especially one still inside your own body?

Which leaves us with, "The baby died." Ouch. I still believe that this was the best thing to tell Westley. But the phrase just plain hurts to say. Or think. (I soften the blow inside my head by telling myself that the baby just changed her mind about being born.) Besides, it throws off my accuracy meter. The ultrasound showed an empty gestational sac - a blighted ovum, more judgmental-sounding language.

(If I hadn't been consumed by feeling so, well, empty, I would've asked for a picture from the ultrasound. I wish I had one now.)

No fetal pole equals no baby. Was I ever even really pregnant? Does any of this language even really apply to me?

* * *
So many women have shared their stories with me. Some in great detail, some with a simple, "That happened to me, too." The nurse who filled in while the nurse assigned to my ER room went to lunch mentioned that she miscarried her first baby at 16 weeks - and while she was recovering, a visiting friend brought over a huge stack of baby clothes.

Suddenly it seems like if you have female parts and it's not you, it's the woman right next to you. "It's very, very common," my midwife said at our follow-up appointment yesterday. "But no one talks about it."

Miscarriage falls firmly in that "don't want to talk about it" space. Or, if you're a chronic oversharer like I am willing to talk about it, it seems too harsh to bring up:

"Hey, how're you doing?"

"Oh, not so good. I had a miscarriage on Sunday."

Whoa. Maybe not. But how are we supposed to not not talk about it, then? I wish I knew.