My flesh and blood
March 11, 2003 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I've known a number of women who have miscarried. It is something that happens frequently, but not something that seems to be discussed very much. In this article at Salon, Heather Swain describes her experience.
posted by tranquileye (16 comments total)
Is there a logon we can use? I don't want to subscribe to Salon!
posted by aacheson at 9:46 AM on March 11, 2003

Use the "Free Day Pass" link at the top of the home page.
posted by brand-gnu at 9:48 AM on March 11, 2003

Oh my lord. That was painful to read. My heart goes out to her and everyone else who has experienced this. I recently heard about a friend of a friend who had a stillborn child, and I just can't imagine her pain. If 10 weeks can make a woman feel like Heather Swain did, imagine losing your child after 9 months. The thought of it makes my heart ache.
posted by widdershins at 9:53 AM on March 11, 2003

Want to read the rest of this article? You have two options: Subscribe now, or watch a brief ad and get a free day pass.

And I can't get their "ultramercial" to play, even after adding both Salon and "" to my "accept cookies" list.

I don't think free content is worth this kind of trouble. If we're always whining about NYT registration...

I agree, though, that miscarriage is heart-wrenching, and more common than you'd think considering the personal tragedy's visibility (not including the Lifetime network). But online memorials are commonplace... some touching, some a little troubling.
posted by pzarquon at 9:54 AM on March 11, 2003

There was a show up in my hometown (Cleveland) recently, about the father's viewpoint of having a stillborn child, and the anguish after. A certain baby food company kept sending baby food ads to the man and his wife for approximately a year and a half after the miscarriage.

As part of he web site, he put up part of his journal, from a month or two before they would out, until a year after. I don't know if it's breaking some rule, but it's a devastating read
posted by Be'lal at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2003

It's hard to talk about a miscarriage, which is probably why you don't hear a lot about it. There are not a lot of people, no matter how sympathetic they may be, who want to hear about you lying there in the maternity ward and feeling lonely, because no one is coming to visit you with flowers and good wishes for the joyous birth of your child, nor about how you have to have a D and C performed, just like an abortion, to make sure all the "tissue" is expelled. And it hurts - it hurts more than a real birth, because there is no full-sized baby to push out. And it also hurts when you ask them if they could tell you if it was a boy or a girl and they say no, it was too little.
posted by Lynsey at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2003

Thanks tranquileye.
posted by plep at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2003

It's odd that you don't hear details about miscarriages very much. It really does happen a lot...I've heard that many (most?) women have a miscarriage the first time they get pregnant. I guess I didn't realize that it is so awful, since you just never hear about it.

I wouldn't know what to say to someone if they gave birth to a stillborn. Do you talk to them about it? Do you ask them about it? Do you ignore it? That is a difficult one.
posted by aacheson at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2003

Voices of Miscarriage (with links to support groups)

Up to one out of three pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Some of these losses are before a woman even suspects that she is pregnant. Miscarriage can be devastating to everyone involved. It is physically and emotionally painful. Everyone experiences it differently, from miscarriage to miscarriage and person to person.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2003

I wouldn't know what to say to someone if they gave birth to a stillborn. Do you talk to them about it? Do you ask them about it? Do you ignore it? That is a difficult one.

Try to talk to them about it if they want to but try not to say anything stupid. One of the real winners in this regard is:

"Well, you're still young enough to have another..."

What seems to happen is people feel that have to say something, but they are so uncomfortable about it, then end up saying something stupid and insensitive. Best you can do is tell them how sorry you are, and tell them if they ever need to talk or if there is anything you can do to help them out, that you will be there for them. Make sure they are aware of support groups for parents who've lost children, as talking is very healing, but talking with people who don't have a clue as to the horror you are going through is less helpful than talking to others who are in the same boat. You will always hear stories of others which are even more horrible than what you are going through.
posted by Windopaene at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2003

Having gone through the miscarriage thing in 2001 (on, hey ho, Sept. 11), I was really surprised to learn that approximately a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage -- it's just that a lot of them occur so early on that they're easily mistaken for a particularly intense period.

For those looking for free content on the subject, I thought that this Book Club of Slate's was pretty good.
posted by blueshammer at 11:52 AM on March 11, 2003

Miscarriages are often nature's way of preventing something worse from happening - unless the mother underwent some kind of trauma the miscarriage is likely due to an abnormality of the fetus or there's something wrong with mother's body that won't allow it to support the pregnancy. My mother miscarried twice, and had five full-term live births. The miscarriages were because she tried to have one pregnancy too soon after the last.

I suppose it might be of some comfort to a woman who's had a miscarriage to remember this, because it would be better to miscarry early on than to give birth to a severely deformed child or to have one's health wrecked or even to die in childbirth, but still it's a dreadful thing to go through. And no one wants to talk about it.
posted by orange swan at 12:18 PM on March 11, 2003

I understand your desire to comfort, orange, but while it might be some relief for a woman if she feels that way herself, I know from my own circle of experience that Windopaene is unequivocally right--it can seem callous and interfering to try and make a point of reminding her. You wouldn't try and rationalize the death of a child, and for many people who have gone through this, there's very little difference in the type and volume of grief.

As the father of two, I can attest that most parents face this abyss at least once, even if they're fortunate enough that they don't actually have to live through the worst. If 25-30% of early pregnancies end up in miscarriage, I would guess that at least 50% or more of the ones that carry through to term go through a point where it seems like a miscarriage is happening, or is about to. I would never compare the scare with the actual grief of the event, but it really does make you realize how much love you can project on a baby you've barely experienced. (And that's speaking as the father.)
posted by LairBob at 1:48 PM on March 11, 2003

Miscarriages are often nature's way of preventing something worse from happening

Does anyone know what the probability is, of having an abnormal child if a threatened miscarriage does not take place and the child goes to full term? Our family is currently going through this.

I couldn't believe it when I saw tranquileye's post as I came to metafilter today to give myself a break from spending two fruitless days searching for information, so any links would be helpful.

Lynsey, no one comes to visit or send flowers or good wishes when you have a very premature baby either. I guess people just don't know what to do in these situations.
posted by Tarrama at 6:41 PM on March 11, 2003

Tarrama--in my experience, the scare of facing what seems like a miscarriage doesn't automatically imply anything bad about the health of the fetus. What matters most, I assume--if you know it--is what seems to be bringing on the miscarriage. I think that "orange swan" makes too much of a correlation between miscarriage and an unhealthy fetus, which seem like a comforting assumption, but not necessarily true, in my experience.
We've faced something like this twice, once seeming very serious, and it really just had to do with how the placenta had formed and attached to the uterine wall. Both times, it turned out that the placenta thankfully had enough purchase to stay in place, attach itself more strongly, and eventually nurture completely healthy, normal babies.
posted by LairBob at 6:47 AM on March 12, 2003

Thank you LairBob, all information at this time is of help. As you will understand, its been a very long week.
posted by Tarrama at 5:51 PM on March 12, 2003

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