In this week of baby-saturated media, you might spare a moment to think of people who’ve lost a baby. Obviously there is never a good time to lose a child but this week I guess it might feel like the media are rubbing it in.
Miscarriage seems to be Western society’s last taboo. It’s hardly ever talked about yet it is the most frequent of pregnancy problems. Between 17-20% pregnancies end this way. That’s a lot of women.
Some women take it in their stride, I know that. But a lot of us don’t. When I lost my baby I was advised that I would have a mourning period and I did. It’s very strange to mourn something you never had, to feel a void when you weren’t (in my case) even sure about becoming a mother. And of course your partner mourns too. Even now, nine years on, S and I will go to the cemetery where her ashes were scattered (it was a late miscarriage) and have a walk around.
As much as I hate that we seem to rely on celebrities to spark issue-based conversations these days, it is the case that sometimes this can highlight issues that are previously ignored – Kylie did it with breast cancer for example. And yet the high profile miscarriages don’t seem to have started a nationwide conversation about how we deal with miscarriage.
Partly this is because we still don’t like to talk about death, especially that of a child. It’s against nature – as awful as losing a parent is, at least it fits our rational way of thinking. And yet, the frequency of miscarriage would lead you to hope people knew how to react, how to manage, how to feel confident in asking for time off work to recover.
A survey of Mumsnet users in 2011 found that 56% of the 1,400 respondents had had one miscarriage. Experiences vary. Yet I believe that even with good care, with supportive employers and with loving and supportive family members, this can still scar you. The frequency of miscarriage does not numb the pain. Especially when we don’t talk about it. So in this week, and all weeks, spare a thought for others. You don’t always know what they’re going through.