Two Sisters
July 11, 2006 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Daniel Raeburn's story about his daughter's still birth is one of the most depressing things I've read in a while. Thankfully, there is a much happier update to the story. (via Kottke)
posted by chunking express (90 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ah goodness. Thank you for posting that, CE. I had wanted to post the original sad piece as one of the most honest, tragic, and eloquent pieces of journalism I'd ever read, but forgot to do it. I'm so glad things turned out well for Daniel and his wife.
posted by digaman at 8:25 AM on July 11, 2006


Yes, thank you. And everything else digiman said.
posted by dontoine at 8:36 AM on July 11, 2006


I know two people who have miscarried. They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus. Lots of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know from close observation that it's awful, but jesus-- selling a story about it? I guess when life gives you lemons, sell lemonade.

They shouldn't have named the baby before it was born.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2006


Oh, now you went and made me cry at work, thanks CKE :)
posted by doctor_negative at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2006


Digiman, I can't imagine reading the first story when it was fresh, and there was no news of a second baby; It's too damn sad.
posted by chunking express at 8:42 AM on July 11, 2006


Wow - No matter how sad, touching or whatever, someone at Metafilter will shit on it. I thought it was a well written piece about a pretty hard event to deal with.
posted by GuyZero at 8:44 AM on July 11, 2006


Thanks for the link to the update. The first story was so sad as to be nearly unreadable despite the fine writing.
posted by briank at 8:44 AM on July 11, 2006


Beautiful. He's a really good writer.

Mayor Curley, there's no correlation between naming a baby before birth and having complications with the birth. If you didn't name your baby, what would you call him or her?
posted by ny_scotsman at 8:45 AM on July 11, 2006


"They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus."

Yes - I am sure the writer's first thoughts after witnessing the stilbirth of his daughter were "cha-ching!".

I am sure writing for him isn't a way for him to express grief both as catharsis for himself and to help others who have experienced smilar events feel like they are not alone.
posted by thekilgore at 8:49 AM on July 11, 2006


This just brought my very busy work morning to a complete halt. But I very much needed to read that. Thank you.

Mayor Curley, I can't muster a response to your comment in a way that properly articulates my disgust. Perhaps if you made comments like that in the form of an outline, with points sorted in descending order beginning with the most disgusting? It would be a big help to the rest of us.
posted by hermitosis at 8:54 AM on July 11, 2006


The Onion could write an article about how awesome and profitable it is to have a stillbirth.
posted by yeti at 9:00 AM on July 11, 2006


yeah, never write about things which are difficult, or private, or personally awful. that way other people can not learn from your experiences or be comforted by them when they find themselves in the same situation. you wouldnt want to help another person, after all.
posted by joeblough at 9:00 AM on July 11, 2006


I mean ^that^ as a joke. I completely disagree with Curley's view the writer is out for the $big$ $bucks$.
posted by yeti at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2006


I know two people who have miscarried. They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus. Lots of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know from close observation that it's awful, but jesus-- selling a story about it?

The article is about stillbirth, not miscarriage. And your comment, by the way, is completely uncalled for and mean.
posted by glenwood at 9:04 AM on July 11, 2006


I thought it was a well-written piece.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:06 AM on July 11, 2006


Thank you for the post, chunking express.
posted by of strange foe at 9:07 AM on July 11, 2006


Perhaps it was more about the writing and less about the selling, Curley. And thanks for the derail.
posted by erebora at 9:10 AM on July 11, 2006


The article is about stillbirth, not miscarriage.

A stillbirth is a miscarriage.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2006


MC is just letting his inner Stalinst [sic] out again.

Thanks for the post. It reminds me of some deeply painful events in my own life, but that's okay. Grief is something we all have to deal with, some of us more or less than others, and it's good to read something that's not doggerel. It has an easy-yet-pained rhythm, like, "This it what happened. It hurts so bad, but this is how it came about and this is how it feels. That's all I've got."
posted by Gator at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2006


Two beautiful pieces. I'm glad it worked out for him and his wife. I hope I can be that strong if I ever have to go through something like what he went through.
posted by antifuse at 9:19 AM on July 11, 2006


From SharedJourney.com:

The terms stillbirth and miscarriage can sometimes be confusing. Both refer to the loss of a pregnancy, however, stillbirth occurs later in pregnancy. A stillbirth is the loss of a fetus after the 20th week of development, while a miscarriage refers to a loss before the 20th week. Some stillbirths can occur right up to the time of labor and delivery. Stillbirths are much less common then miscarriages, occurring in only 1 out of every 200 pregnancies.
posted by daveleck at 9:22 AM on July 11, 2006


Beautiful essay, thanks for posting this, Chunking.

To Mayor Curley: Wow, what an asshole comment. (...Though it's cute that you suggest there's much to envy in "a writer's profit.")
posted by applemeat at 9:23 AM on July 11, 2006


My apoligies if this is kind of incoherant - the article hit me harder than I expected, despite my miscarriage being over ten years ago.

I wanted to chime in and note how annoyed I am at the comment that the author was selling his grief, but I'm still really too moved by the piece to put words to why I don't think the author is wrong.

Talking about my miscarriage did more to help me cope with it than bottling it up and hiding it. Not everyone grieves in the same way. Passing judgement on another man's grief is ... well, it's just plain discompassionate.
posted by FritoKAL at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2006


I'm glad it worked out for him and his wife.

No, you missed the point. I'm glad for the followup too but it wasn't a happy ending but rather a positive counterpoint. They've still lost a kid and probably bridle at the dozens of other well meaning people who suggest things have worked out.
posted by Jenga at 9:46 AM on July 11, 2006


I have no idea how people put themselves through this. And to try again after such a disgusting and traumatic experience? I can't understand it.
posted by agregoli at 9:57 AM on July 11, 2006


Jesus Christ. I'll see you all at the Hallmark Hall of Fame. I'll be loitering around the Robert Urich exhibit. And I just sold a story about a common-though-personal tragedy, so I'll treat you to a Slush Puppy at the snack bar.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:06 AM on July 11, 2006


Hey Mayor - if the baby was born at term and died a day later, would it be any different? There's a hell of a difference between losing a pregnancy at six weeks because of simple genetic issues and having your child die at term. And some might argue that taking a "common-though-personal" tragedy and allowing it to be described by someone able to articulate the pain in eloquent fashion speaks for the millions of persons unable to do so for themselves. Perhaps all non-fiction should be restricted to describing other people's pain only. Or puppies. Big, bouncy puppies.
posted by docpops at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2006


Curley, it's a constant competition between you & Witty, and I swear, I have no idea who's winning at any given moment. Sometimes I wish rushmc would come back so it'd be clear who the biggest fucking asshole on the site was & you two could just haggle over second place.
posted by jonson at 10:16 AM on July 11, 2006


His career is set. All he has to do now is write about the joys of having a baby.

I wonder what massively high expectations they have of this kid after 3 false starts. When parenting begins to suck are they going to grit their teeth publicly and give the 'It's all worth it' and secretly believe they should have stopped after it kept failing? After all that drama, what if parenting doesn't measure up to their Kodak Moment hopes?
posted by pieoverdone at 10:17 AM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley: "I know two people who have miscarried. They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus."

My wife miscarried; after a suitable amount of time I wrote about the experience on my personal site. The piece I wrote about the experience, among other things, was picked up by support groups for women (and couples, I suppose) who were dealing with infertility problems. Between people finding the entry on my Web site and those who read it through these support groups (or who have found it elsewhere), I've amassed quite a collection of letters from people thanking me for writing it and for helping them process their grief regarding their own miscarry. But I guess it's too bad I didn't have the good taste to shut up about it.

Incidentally, the piece will be available in a book that collects up my site entries over the last eight years, which will be published in 2007 by Subterranean Press. I'm getting paid for the book. You may think it's tacky that I'm making a writer's profit off the piece, if you like. You may also kiss my ass.
posted by jscalzi at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2006


It is SO important for those that can to tell their stories. It's how we learn to be a supportive familial community to those around us.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2006


That's nice pieoverdone. Mayor Curley is still stealing your thunder. Why is it that people that have no concept or even remote understanding of a subject matter feel a need to post a comment on it.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2006


Because a lot of people here are jerks; the trick is to try really hard and ignore them.
posted by chunking express at 10:32 AM on July 11, 2006


I wonder what massively high expectations they have of this kid after 3 false starts.

Gee, that it's a kid, it's theirs, and it's alive. That seems like a great start. You really don't need to shit on their happiness because of your own issues with parenting and children.
posted by canine epigram at 10:33 AM on July 11, 2006


A great, great story and I appreciate your sharing it here.

My wife miscarried in 1997. This was the exact same day that we had gone to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test and to discuss our options. We were in no place to be bringing a child into the world. After our appointment, on the drive home, my wife began bleeding profusely and I beelined it for the hospital where she miscarried. She had lost a lot of blood and was a complete mess. We didn't know what to make of the timing and spent a lot of time crying and asking "what if?"
Two and a half years later we became the happiest family in all of Chicago when our daughter, Mayaan, was born.

We will never say that things happen for a reason. We couldn't fathom the thought that something was "taken" from us only to be returned in the future. We can only sit back and marvel at our wonderful luck and be happy for what we do have.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:34 AM on July 11, 2006


Grief is difficult to understand but dealt with most effectively by confrontation. As medical professionals, we encourage patients to do things with stillborn children (um.. not miscarried) that may seem odd, or even gruesome, to those not involved. One patient (after spending time with the baby and taking pictures) had the infant retrieved from the morgue the next morning so she and her husband could spend a bit more time with him. She then wrote a book about the experience. In my opinion, she dealt with the episode effectively – and has since had two healthy children. Interestingly, there is also evidence to suggest that facilitating a healthy grief process in patients decreases the incidence of law suits.
posted by rotifer at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2006


Powerful, beautiful... shit, crying again.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:39 AM on July 11, 2006


chunking express, thank you. Things like this are why I keep lurking.
posted by rainbaby at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2006


jscalzi and KevinSkomsvold (and Daniel Raeburn) Thank you so much for sharing. I had a professor who miscarried and I can't even imagine dealing with that. Its fantastic that you are able to communicate your grief and even help others work through theirs.

Seriously,

Thank you.
posted by Skorgu at 10:47 AM on July 11, 2006


I've been through miscarriages and a stillbirth with my wife. A stillbirth is much more agonizing. And the reason it's being written about is precisely because of the callous reactions of some people, who say, "well, you can always have another one." It's beyond some people's ken how it can be so hard on a couple, and how traumatic it is for the woman in particular. Some of us learn through experience, and some of us through good writing. And some of us, obviously, don't learn.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:58 AM on July 11, 2006


Dang, that post made me cry too. What a powerful and beautiful article. Thank you for posting it chunking express. Your thread title, "Two sisters" made me cry too. I also lost three pregnancies to miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Very sad. My good wishes for Daniel and Rebekah Raeburn's daughter's long, happy and healthy life.

yeah, never write about things which are difficult, or private, or personally awful. that way other people can not learn from your experiences or be comforted by them when they find themselves in the same situation. you wouldnt want to help another person, after all.

Nice retort joeblough.

Grief, with its sense of profound loss, like love and other deep emotions, can be hard to describe so it isn't schmaltzy. In Daniel Raeburn's moving article, his third paragraph of Willa Raeburn: Born May 22, 2006 adds an edge to the coming birth of his child. And why not in the New Yorker magazine and writing for money? If writing about death were not allowed to make money most journalists on the planet might be out of a job. Newspapers wouldn't exist, a lot of books would never have been published.

Even animals can at times expose the story of the loss of their dead child for others to see. Humans too may want to record, or memorialise, the loss of their child and share it with others, to have a record, to be comforted and comfort others who have been through similar circumstances.
posted by nickyskye at 10:58 AM on July 11, 2006


I'm glad that there are people in the world who can share their most personal stories with the rest of us. If it leads to greater understanding and empathy, I think it's a good thing.

I have no children and I've never been pregnant, but I would like to have a couple of kids someday. Pregnancy and birth, however, seem like such mysterious things - there's so much to worry about. Infertility, complications, miscarriages, abortions, birth defects, etc - so many things that are very personal, yet that need to be talked about. For me, at least, and probably for many people, there's no one to ask about these topics - about the grisly details, what to expect, what to REALLY expect. So many things are sugar-coated, "Oprah"-ized - like the time she had women on her show who said they orgasmed while giving birth. Yeah, right.

So, I'm glad that Mr. Raeburn spared no details, whether it was describing the plates in his daughter's skull grinding, his wife's blood on the floor, or his friends crying on the phone. I feel like I was there, like I witnessed the experience. I feel better equipped to handle a friend's stillbirth. I feel more informed, so that if I ever have to go through what he & his wife did, I won't be as scared of the unknown, of the awful possibilities.

Thanks, chunking express, for posting the links. It was hard to read, and I'm sure that I'll be thinking about the Raeburns' experience for the rest of the day, if not the rest of the week. But there's a kind of comfort in finding out that other people have gone through things that I have not, and lived to tell about it, so if I find myself in the same position one day, I can take strength from that fact.
posted by meringue at 10:59 AM on July 11, 2006


skorgu - thank you.

Daniel Raeburn's story is the kind of thing that I wish I could have read back then. Granted it was only 1997 but still, as potential new parents, we were grasping at straws.

I think if it had been a still-birth, it could have possibly devastated us even more. My wifes' was an ectopic pregnancy and it was still very early so we really didn't have time to conjure a mental image of our potential baby yet. Had it been almost to term, I can't imagine what different emotional state that would have put us in. Daniel's story does a great job of putting us there.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:12 AM on July 11, 2006


I know two people who have miscarried. They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus. Lots of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know from close observation that it's awful, but jesus-- selling a story about it? I guess when life gives you lemons, sell lemonade.
posted by Mayor Curley


And I just sold a story about a common-though-personal tragedy, so I'll treat you to a Slush Puppy at the snack bar.
posted by Mayor Curley


So, you're an asshole and a hypocrite? Good to know.

chunking express, thank you so much for posting this; both were beautifully written, and even though I hate crying at work, well worth reading. There but for the grace of God...
posted by jennaratrix at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2006


(I find all the "I'm crying at work" comments quite endearing; it's not the sort of thing you normally read on MetaFilter.)
posted by chunking express at 11:30 AM on July 11, 2006


Damn it. I shouldn't have read this. My baby is due in 12 days. Everyday, this is the fear that catches at my breath from time to time - "Is he moving? Why is he so quiet? Please move...something. Let me know that you're okay" He kicks & squirms and I can move on with the rest of my day. Still, I'm never far from the fear that he could be taken from me.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2006


Thank you, chunking express, for posting this. I wish the author and his family peace in the face of such pain.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2006


Major Curley, this may come as a surprise to you, but many writers of fiction and nonfiction think human emotion is a worthwhile subject to explore. They do not all work for Hallmark.

I had read the first story when it came out, and was impressed with the writing and moved by the story. Although, as some of you have pointed out, the second story was not precisely a "happy ending," because life is not like that except in the halls of Hallmark, it was a pleasure to read.

BTW, I cry at every birth, film of birth, and every story about birth. Death does not always make be cry. Am I strange?
posted by kozad at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2006


Still, I'm never far from the fear that he could be taken from me. That's very common, echo, so don't worry, you'll be fine. When we finally did have a child, it took a while to sink in that we made it. Many new parents have stories about waking up a sleeping child they fear is not breathing. I'm one of them.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:44 AM on July 11, 2006


Still, I'm never far from the fear that he could be taken from me.

Echo I have good and bad news: This will not go away when your child is born. Not a single day of his or her entire life will pass without you realizing how vulnerable you become when you love something this much.
posted by glenwood at 11:44 AM on July 11, 2006


Do the majority of people only realize this when they have kids? I feel this way about my husband every single day of my life.
posted by agregoli at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2006


meringue, Wonderful post. Just wanted to say my best friend said she orgasmed when her first child was born and I believe her. I had no idea others did too, who were on Oprah, lol. "They Don't Call it a Peak Experience for Nothing."
posted by nickyskye at 11:48 AM on July 11, 2006


agregoli, of course not. I feel the same way about my wife. But it's far more acute and frightening with your own children. Evolution demands this.
posted by glenwood at 11:48 AM on July 11, 2006


Reading this piece evoked in me a need to go get my daughter home early from Preschool, but it also brought forth some memories of nearly 10 years ago:

My second son, Malcolm, died when he was 3 months short of coming out the normal way. We didn't know it, at the time, but my wife was certainly suffering. When we did go into the ER that night, we had a pretty good idea what was happening.

At 6 months, he was a little bigger than my hand. Everything was perfectly formed, and in miniature. While the doctor was showing us Malcolm, I was holding my oldest son in my arms, and wouldn't let him go.

Years have gone by, and my wife still feels physical pain if she remembers it. The only solace that we can take from it is that my next boy was born a little over 9 months after Malcolm died, and if Malcolm had gone on to live, we never would have had Kieran.

That weekend, we walked with my mother to the far side of a pond that sits in a wooded area beside Gammon Road, here in Madison, WI. Malcolm is buried there beneath a tree.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:49 AM on July 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


So, you're an asshole and a hypocrite? Good to know.

I am. I am indeed. I'm sitting in the lobby of the Hallmark Hall of Fame in Omaha as I type this, waiting for my agent to hand me a check for my personal story of tragedy. Lyndsey Wagner just walked by on the way to her lecture in the auditorium and I'm looking at a 30-foot-tall Precious Moments figurine depicting a boy and a girl fishing.

After I finish typing this, I'm going to go see the Hall of Families Who Got Back Together Through Mysterious Strangers At Christmas and the actual Burning Bed if I have time.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2006


I was hoping Curley would post again, and he did! Joy of Joys. All is well in the MetaFilter universe.
posted by chunking express at 12:04 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley, I can kind of understand if you're sitting there trying to out-dick yourself because you feel self-conscious after a number of people, most notably rotifer, called you out and paddled your ass like a recalcitrant schoolboy.

But what I'm saying is that you can stop being an asshole now: we get the idea.
posted by scrump at 12:13 PM on July 11, 2006



Do the majority of people only realize this when they have kids? I feel this way about my husband every single day of my life.


No, I have the same fear about my husband, family, friends, etc., but it's a different level of fear with my soon-to-be-born. Part of it is because his coming into being has constituted a huge physical and emotional struggle for me - he is precious because everyday I have to make peace with the physical misery of being pregnant. In all of my existence on this earth I've never had to work this hard at having and keeping a relationship with anyone in my life. Every day of fatigue and pain that I work at getting through brings me one day closer to having him alive in my arms. The thought of losing him when I am so close to finally being able to look into his eyes makes me crazy.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:15 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley: They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus.

I will not take the thing from your hand.
posted by russilwvong at 12:20 PM on July 11, 2006


Add me to the 'crying at work' list - though I have the luxury of doing nothing at my current job (admin assistant at uni). Crying as work seems closer.

Christ, that first article is an extraordinary piece of writing.
posted by waxbanks at 12:26 PM on July 11, 2006


No, I have the same fear about my husband, family, friends, etc., but it's a different level of fear with my soon-to-be-born. Part of it is because his coming into being has constituted a huge physical and emotional struggle for me

For reasons I will not go into here, my relationship with my husband came at the end of a very long physical and emotional struggle as well - so I can understand that.


In all of my existence on this earth I've never had to work this hard at having and keeping a relationship with anyone in my life. Every day of fatigue and pain that I work at getting through brings me one day closer to having him alive in my arms. The thought of losing him when I am so close to finally being able to look into his eyes makes me crazy.

That makes sense. Sounds absolutely horrible. Kudos to those who go through it, because I can't imagine doing it myself, and, in fact, won't.
posted by agregoli at 12:27 PM on July 11, 2006


I have a 16-month-old son, and I've been in the EMS field since 1991. I've had way, way too much time to think about why parents harbor this kind of raw anxiety about their children and why it seems to be less...present for our spouses or our other family members.

I think it's because children are, in the true sense, assigned innocence by both society as a whole and society as individuals until they commit an act that irrevocably damages that innocence.

Children, particularly young children, are possessed of the kind of breathtaking risky behavior that can only come when you have complete confidence that someone will catch you. Anyone with small children, or who has raised small children that are now large children, can remember their child's utter willingness to just throw themselves backwards during play, serene in the absolute confidence that my parent will catch me.

It's a kind of trust that many of us have never in our lives experienced from another human being, and it brings with it a very particular species of terror when we realize that we can never fulfill it. All of us know that we will someday, regardless of our intentions, regardless of our circumstances, fail to catch our kid. Sometimes we fail to catch them, and the only result is a learning experience about hardwood floors. But then there are the other stories. The ones that end up with a dead kid and a live parent and the kind of guilt and grief that cannot in any way be mitigated or even accurately expressed.

We live in fear of that moment: the moment that we fail. And we harbor devastating, abject terror about the failure being of the second type, and not the first. Most of us learn to address that fear, and move past it: some don't, and it brings with it paralysis and the kind of parenting that means Joan Crawford will play you in the movie.

But why don't we feel that way about our spouse, or our parents? We don't feel that way because they are adults: we feel that in some way, they are responsible for being here, and that they are aware of the risks of life. They have lost, for us, the quality of naive innocence that makes such a profound difference. They have not, in some tiny way that is only a fraction of their whole relationship with us, invested us with the same trust as our children have: on some level, no matter how besotted we are with our loved ones, no matter how in love we are, we know, in our bones, that our (adult) loved ones cannot always be there for us, and neither can we always be there for them.

So, for my $0.02, it comes down to the type of trust in the relationship. And now I'm going to go get my own blog already.
posted by scrump at 12:36 PM on July 11, 2006 [5 favorites]


Scrump, also, our kids are our gene carriers, and evolution has probably devised some heavy over-protective impulses. But what you said is probably true too. :)
posted by glenwood at 12:46 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley: "I know two people who have miscarried. They had the good taste to keep the experience private and not make a writer's profit off of a dead fetus."

I agree with everyone else who mentioned the importance of giving voice to isolating, world-shifting, private experience. I wrote about my experience with miscarriage in my first book -- ultimately writing that my experience "initiated me into the pure essence of parenting: the sheer chance of it all. The intensity. The joy, the grief, the fear of loss. The incontrovertible fact that the secret life you have created is simply out of your hands, beyond your control, beyond the scope of any other experience. It readied me, in ways I could not know until I was finally there, for motherhood, for the powerful rush of love and other overwhelming emotions, the depth and breadth of which I mistakenly thought I already knew." I was asked to expand and adapt the essay for inclusion in a new anthology, due out next January from Plume, called "About What Was Lost," which features 20 writers sharing their stories on miscarriage and healing. I did, and I did so willingly; I believe that writing about my experience was not only a way for me to understand it and metabolize it, but a way to comfort someone else who may not yet have the words.
posted by mothershock at 12:49 PM on July 11, 2006


Thanks for the post - it is timely for me. Our daughter is one month old today. It was a happy day in December when we found out that our best friends, whom we spend much of our time with, were only three weeks behind us.

We have all enjoyed the last six months, going through the changes of pregnancy together and preparing to become parents. We had so many plans for weekends and vacations and watching our children grow and play together. Someone to share the experience with.

A week ago their baby died during delivery. (S)he aspirated meconium and couldn't be resuscitated. We haven't spoken to them, except through a card to say call us when you're ready. But I don't know what I will say. And how can they look at my daughter and not think of the child they lost? Even when they have another, she will always remind them of their child and the future that was lost.

The mother was overdue but chose to delay a few days to accommodate the schedule of her doctor. I worry that she will second-guess that decision for the rest of her life.
posted by exon at 1:30 PM on July 11, 2006


chunking express, thank you for the great post. If just reading about such a thing could leave me so upset I can't even imagine going through it personally.
posted by LeeJay at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2006


Don't we worry about this more with our children than our spouses becuase they are so completely dependent on us at the beginning? Before they can articulate what they need, they depend on parents to figure it out. They depend on parents for food and water and shelter. That isn't the same with most adults. (I don't have children -- yet -- so I'm not sure. But it seems that it must be so?)

Beautiful writing. Heart tugging, to be sure.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2006


I miscarried a couple of months ago and am profoundly changed by the experience. Right now, I live in sheer terror of getting pregnant again even though I want kids more than anything else in the world for fear of having to go through it again. Thank you, chunking express, for giving me a glimpse of hope.

And to some of you: Knowing someone who has had a miscarriage in no way qualifies you to make any assumptions about life in their shoes. Before I had a miscarriage, I thought it was no big deal--a statistical likelihood for a first pregnancy. I was wrong.
posted by wallaby at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2006


Who said it was no big deal?
posted by agregoli at 2:11 PM on July 11, 2006


Ah, Mayor Curley, I presume?

I'm spacing out, forgive me.
posted by agregoli at 2:13 PM on July 11, 2006


Who said it was no big deal? Ah, Mayor Curley, I presume?

That's not what I said at all. In fact, that's pretty slanderous. So I am going to slander you in return:

IF YOU ARE JUST SCANNING THIS THREAD, agregoli said that native americans eat poop and that wheelchair ramps are a crime against nature. S/he also said that fat people from the southern US waste gas by driving their SUVs to get their sons circumcized and described Apple Computers as "the sux."
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:29 PM on July 11, 2006


agregoli, wallaby was just pointing out that Mayor Curley, having never experienced a still birth or a miscarriage, is talking out of his ass.
posted by chunking express at 2:34 PM on July 11, 2006


IF YOU ARE JUST SCANNING THIS THREAD, agregoli said that native americans eat poop and that wheelchair ramps are a crime against nature. S/he also said that fat people from the southern US waste gas by driving their SUVs to get their sons circumcized and described Apple Computers as "the sux."


Was that supposed to make me mad or something?
posted by agregoli at 2:36 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley, please step inside the Hallmark Hall of Fame and ask why it is in Omaha, Nebraska instead of the company's headquarters Kansas City, Missouri.
Did someone lose his way?
posted by Cranberry at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2006


Was that supposed to make me mad or something?

Not at all. I was just pointing out that you were basically making shit up/too lazy to read when I, like you, believe the children are our future and bad times can only be overcome by dwelling on them, meticulously documenting them and, most importantly, profiting from them. No matter how many other people have gone through it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:11 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley, please step inside the Hallmark Hall of Fame and ask why it is in Omaha, Nebraska instead of the company's headquarters Kansas City, Missouri.

I aksed the woman working the admissions desk (I'm pretty sure it's the girl from "My Two Dads") and she looked at me like I was dumb and replied that the Hall of Fame is in Omaha because it is the hometown of Swoosie Kurtz.

Apparently, the original was right next to their headquarters in KC, but it was burned down when a runaway teenager who was lured into prostitution got involved in huffing paint while trying to find her biological mother at the Hall of Fame-- she turned a rapist's gun back on the rapist, the discharge set the paint fumes alight and ignited the hair of the animatronic Nancy McKeon.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:21 PM on July 11, 2006


Mayor Curley, please step inside the Hallmark Hall of Fame and ask why it is in Omaha, Nebraska instead of the company's headquarters Kansas City, Missouri.
Did someone lose his way?


Cranberry, I was wondering the exact same thing - and then I realized that, like everything else our (not)beloved MC says, that was total bullshit, and thus, ignorable.

Now, if we'd all (myself included) only do that ignoring, these threads would be much better places.
posted by jennaratrix at 3:22 PM on July 11, 2006


bad times can only be overcome by dwelling on them, meticulously documenting them and, most importantly, profiting from them. No matter how many other people have gone through it.

Do you really believe this is what motivates a writer to write? You think, for example, Joan Didion wrote "The Year of Magical Thinking," about coming to grips with the death of her spouse, because she thought it would be an easy buck?
posted by mothershock at 3:25 PM on July 11, 2006


If people want to write for an easy buck, they'll do up a crappy bio of Britney Spears or somesuch.
posted by raedyn at 4:08 PM on July 11, 2006


Thanks for the well-written link.
posted by raedyn at 4:24 PM on July 11, 2006



I wonder what massively high expectations they have of this kid after 3 false starts. When parenting begins to suck are they going to grit their teeth publicly and give the 'It's all worth it' and secretly believe they should have stopped after it kept failing? After all that drama, what if parenting doesn't measure up to their Kodak Moment hopes?
posted by pieoverdone at 10:17 AM PST on July 11 [+fave] [!]


I can tell you that they most likely won't grit their teeth publicly. Every single person I know that has had a successful outcome to a pregnancy after infertility and/or loss(and having gone through infertility tx myself, I know quite a lot of them) has NOT had Kodak Moment hopes. They are very realistic and know that parenting has some sucky ass times to it, but they also know that it's something that they're driven to experience. Not one of them has ever once thought that they should've stopped after 1, 4 and in one instance, 9 failures. The parents of children who are less than perfect, or the parents of multiples with colic are just as thrilled to be mommy and daddy as the people who conceive and carry their first child easily.

Sorry, very sore subject for me (pregnancy and loss).
posted by hollygoheavy at 6:16 PM on July 11, 2006


Bizzare coincidenceFilter:

after reading both of these amazing stories here today, and thinking to myself, wow, this guy is an excellent writer, i wonder what else he's written... i get home to find a package containing a book i'd ordered from Amazon last week, a bio/monograph of illustrator/comic artist Chris Ware. I hadn't even noticed the author when I ordered it, but when I opened the package, was shocked to notice that it was written the very same Daniel Raeburn, of New Yorker acclaim.

stranger than fiction... (or biography, for that matter...)
posted by ab3 at 7:18 PM on July 11, 2006


In our last episode of Mayor Curley's uncontrollable rage (or irrepressible trolling) involving pregnancy . . .
posted by Mid at 7:23 PM on July 11, 2006


echolalia67 - best wishes for the birth of your son!
posted by ny_scotsman at 8:21 PM on July 11, 2006


I'm just disappointed Mayor Curley didn't ride The Burning Bed Experience while he was there.
posted by dw at 11:35 PM on July 11, 2006


I was just pointing out that you were basically making shit up/too lazy to read when I, like you, believe the children are our future and bad times can only be overcome by dwelling on them, meticulously documenting them and, most importantly, profiting from them. No matter how many other people have gone through it.

What you wrote could be easily construed how I and several other people interpreted it. Shrug.

I don't believe the children are our future. I don't believe bad times can only be overcome by dwelling on them, meticulously documenting them, and most importantly, profiting from them.

Quite frankly, I think that the article was gruesome and wonder how much he got paid to sell that as well. I also didn't think that all of it was that well written. That doesn't necessarily make it a story without value, however.
posted by agregoli at 7:11 AM on July 12, 2006


I posted about Raeburn's article on DaddyTypes when it first appeared in print, and offered a to email a pdf scan of it to anyone who wanted/needed it.

In both the comments and the emails that ensued, I heard from nearly 300 parents or friends/relatives of parents who were dealing with a similar experience and were looking for insights on how someone else was dealing with it, if not exactly a primer on "how".

So for me, the value and importance of Raeburn's sharing his and his wife's experience was never in question at all. It has a real and meaningful impact on peoples' lives at a very difficult time.

What still boggles my mind, though, is the timing and the writing itself. Based on events and time passing in the first piece and the birth of the Raeburn's second child in May, he had to have been writing that while his wife was pregnant and while he was expecting another child--or another tragic end to a pregnancy. [His wife's comment to the delivery nurse about how this was her fourth pregnancy betray an acute painful awareness of this.]
posted by gregorg at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2006


This is so sad.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2006


What a horrible and amazing story. I cannot imagine it. I cannot imagine how someone gets over that. I can see how someone would write about it though. It's theraputic for them and for others to be able to read it. If people only wrote about happy things, what boring books and magazines would be out there!

I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and she is the most amazing thing in the world. I loved being pregnant and I love being a parent, even the parts that suck. But I can see how someone would try again..not to replace a child that was lost, but to get to be a parent, which is the most amazing, terrifying, and rewarding thing in the world. To hold a child, to raise a child, to love a child is exhiliration like nothing else. And I am happy that they got to experience that finally.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by aacheson at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2006


Thank you for the post, chunking express.

Now, if we'd all (myself included) only do that ignoring, these threads would be much better places. I had a small rant here about MC's known lack of compassion but I think I'll take jennaratrix' advice.
posted by deborah at 10:43 PM on July 13, 2006


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