Saturday, June 23, 2012


Miscarriage and stillbirth are not interchangeable terms.

Nothing irritates me more than when I hear someone describe a full term stillbirth as a "miscarriage".

Especially when a woman says it.

While one is not necessarily more pleasant than the other, to those who are not part of this life it seems that calling a loss a miscarriage is their way of glossing over the horror that is a stillbirth.

It is horrible. Probably the most horrific thing one could ever experience. Imagine having a dead person inside of you. Imagine having to endure hours of physical pain to deliver a child you know is already dead. It is unimaginable to most people.

I was "lucky" enough to be spared many of the horrors of stillbirth (I was unconscious when my dead child was delivered) but I still bear the scars from my experience.

Maybe that is why even now, more than four years after my daughter died and was born, I still feel my pulse raise when I read something that insults those of us who have suffered a stillbirth.

There has been a shit-storm here in Michigan because two female legislators dared say the word "vagina" on the House floor. The whole thing is ridiculous, and actually embarrassing to our state. While I was reading a column about this issue I was surprised disappointed to read this: (I underlined the offending passage)

"The bill that passed the House last week would shut down most abortion providers in the state. But the GOP leadership tabled other legislation that outlawed abortion past 20 weeks, which could mean mothers who miscarry would have to deliver a stillborn baby..."

Would you believe a woman wrote this?

I wrote the author a scathing note, which she has yet to rely to. Part of my note said:

"For the record, a miscarriage is defined as a spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. A pregnancy loss after the 20th week is called a preterm delivery. Miscarried and stillborn are not interchangeable terms.

A woman who miscarries has options for delivery, even under the proposed legislation, because a miscarriage happens before the 20th week. A women who experiences neonatal death after the 20th week of pregnancy will always have to deliver her child."

and I ended it with:

"You are a woman (and a mother), you should know all of this.

I don't agree with this legislation, but not presenting the facts correctly does nothing to help our cause."

Maybe I was overreacting, but I don't think so. Thousands of people read this column, and they are reading this and are lead to think that miscarriage and stillborn are the same thing, when in fact they are very different.

They are both horrible. But different.

Monday, June 11, 2012


The subject of dead babies is a taboo subject for the most part. It's not something you talk about at parties. It makes people uncomfortable. That is why the baby loss community has become a community in the first place. People (mostly women) who can get together and talk about their babies and their feelings and have people understand. It's important. It was a huge part of my journey to healing.

I am starting to feel like I don't belong in that community anymore. I've felt that way for quite some time, but I feel it even more so lately. There are taboo subjects even in the baby loss world. We only support each other. Speaking against another mother is strictly forbidden.

I can't believe I'm even going to say this.

It will probably get me thrown out of the club.

But, I think some of the baby loss moms are wrong.

If you've lost two or three children to the same fatal genetic disease, I will feel bad for you, but not as bad as I did the first time.

If you show pictures of your dead child at your husband's work party, I don't blame him for getting upset.

If you get mad because your mother in law didn't buy your dead child a Christmas present, I think you are being ridiculous.

If you go ballistic on an old friend because they don't celebrate your dead child's "angelversary", I think you are wrong.

When a new acquaintance asks you how many kids you have, you are not "betraying" your dead child if you don't include them in the count.

Men grieve differently than women. It's not fair to be mad at your husband because he doesn't grieve the way you want.

You are not betraying your child's memory if you are  now happy with your life. You deserve to be happy, whether your child is here or not.

I think parents (especially mothers) tend to be oversensitive when it comes to our kids. Since our babies aren't here we have a tendency to be hypersensitive. Over and over again I hear about friendships lost or family relationships strained because someone said or did something that a deadbabymama didn't like. Or because they didn't say or do something that the mama wanted.

Here's the thing: there is not handbook on this situation. Most people don't know what to say. They are probably afraid of making you cry. They don't want to hurt you, so they mostly do nothing. That doesn't mean they don't care. Yes, it's hurtful. But you flying off the handle about it only make a bad situation worse.

Your mother in law may never buy your dead child a Christmas present. Why does it matter? I'm sorry that your child is dead, but buying them gifts doesn't make them alive. It also doesn't mean that your mother in law didn't love her grandchild. Maybe it just means she doesn't see the sense in buying something for someone who can't use it.

We all want to acknowledge our children. Since they were here only a short time, the only way people will know about them is if we tell them. I get that. I really do. But there is a time and place for everything. Pulling out pictures of your dead child at your husband's office party is not appropriate. Ever. First of all, it's a party and nothing halts a celebration like dead babies. Second of all, it's his place of employment. These are his people. If he wants to share pictures of his child with them he will. It's not your place, and he has every right to be upset.

You have a right to be happy. Just because your baby isn't here doesn't mean your life has to stop. Yes it's shitty. It's especially hard in the beginning. But you are not required to stay miserable for the rest of your life. You will always miss your baby, but being happy and moving on doesn't mean that you love them any less. You are not betraying their memory. Get out of your grief. It's the only way you can move on with your life.

Men and women are different. Your husband may not want to talk about the baby much and that's OK. You can't get mad at him because of how he's grieving his loss. He suffered a loss too. It's not fair to tell him that he's doing it wrong. Think of how angry you get when people tell you that you aren't getting over it fast enough? Now what if they insinuated that you didn't love your baby because you get over it too fast? Just because he doesn't externalize your loss doesn't mean he isn't hurting. You badgering him is only going to drive him further away.

I'm not perfect. I know everyone is different, but I see the same thing over and over again and it just makes me crazy. Of course I would never tell anyone these things (unless they specifically asked me) because we are there to support each other. Maybe if we could say these things to each other instead of just telling each other how right we are, maybe then we could really help each other.

But, for now, saying these things is taboo in the baby loss community.