I Hate the Word Miscarriage.

I hate the word miscarriage.  I wish someone would invent a word that is less fraught with guilt and blame.  I mis carried.  It sounds like I did something wrong.  Like I picked up the laundry basket upside down and scattered the laundry down the stairs.  Like I dropped the football.  Like I thoughtlessly stuffed my baby the wrong way in the sling.  As if I didn’t feel that way enough without the word.

What is it about mothers that makes us so inclined to guilt?  I firmly believe that a lot of our guilt comes from ingrained culture–the story of Adam & Eve, or Pandora’s box–women messed up and we should pay for it for time immemorial.  In this case, though, I wonder if it’s some sort of biological imperative.  We are uniquely equipped to protect our children while they are in the womb.  We are the only ones who can do so.  So, when our bodies betray us in that fundamental way, who is there to blame but ourselves?

There is no good word for what we’ve suffered.  The medical term is spontaneous abortion.  The word abortion has so many bad connotations that it really can’t do us any good.  Although, I suppose spontaneous does indicate something totally unexpected, something completely beyond our control.  So, oddly, I think I may actually prefer it to miscarriage.  But, spontaneous also seems to indicate something quick–that image I used to have of a sudden gush of blood and then it’s over.  Sometimes it might happen like that, but not to me.

Then there’s ‘losing a baby.’  What kid of sad, sorry euphemism is that, anyway?  Oh, yes, I know I had one around here somewhere, but I seem to have misplaced it.  Strangely enough, that’s almost how it feels. You know it was real.  You were pregnant.  You were happy.  You remember it all so clearly.  But now–it’s gone, and you don’t know exactly how.

What helps me most when the guilt rears its ugly head, when I start thinking about all the things I may have done, or may not have done, is to think of the other Moms at Empty Arms.  Whenever one of them reveals her own guilt, the ‘crazy’ things that go through her head, I can wholeheartedly tell her that it wasn’t her fault.  She loved her baby, she did everything she could, she would never have chosen this.  Because it’s clear that all of that is true.  It’s easy to see, easy to tell her that.  We should all try to be so loving and truthful to ourselves.

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