I recently Googled synonyms for the word, “miscarriage,” and these are what popped up:
“Abortion, mishap, botch, breakdown, defeat, error, interruption, malfunction, misfire, mistake, nonsuccess, failure, weakness, deficiency.”
The antonyms just added insult to injury, “Accuracy, certainty, correction, success, triumph, win.”
Whoever decided that the word “miscarriage” was the correct term for a mother’s loss, I will never be able to fully understand.
The word itself implies fault of the mother. It’s no wonder why so many of us feel shame, cry behind closed doors, shutdown, and don’t talk about it. And, it is not wonder why society does not know how to properly support us, and how to gracefully acknowledge it.
It’s actually a very common and normal part of life, and yet, even with today’s great advances and higher education, we still treat it like the Black Plague.
That word really sucks. It sucks the soul of the mother, and it sucks the humanity of society.
It’s not your fault, Mama.
Let me repeat that to you – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
You’re not a mistake, a malfunction, or a botch. You did not misfire, you are not weak, and you most certainly are not an error.
Life really does work in mysterious ways, and there is so much about it that we just do not understand. Not even our advanced sciences and technology can understand all of it. Probably never will, either. Heck, we still don’t even know what really triggers labor, and why breast milk is so magical. We just have a lot of good guesses and bits and pieces of information that help us make educated conclusions. But, we really don’t know. Mother Nature is a beautiful enigma, and it’s why so many of us call life itself a miracle!
We need a new word. And, we need one right now!
Every other alternative I’ve found, though, just doesn’t work for one reason or another. I’ve spent weeks and weeks looking at words. There are over 171,000 words in the English language, and none of them seem to suffice.
“Loss” still has a negative connotation, because it’s not the same kind of loss when our parents pass away, or a friend dies in a car accident. And, any other synonym for “loss” still implies fault or failure of the mother.
This kind of loss is deeply, deeply personal.
How do you pick a word for that?!
For lack of a better word, I had a miscarriage back in 2015, and I had a lot of anger and resentment during that time. I wasn’t angry at myself, though, nor at any one in particular. I wasn’t even mad at the loss itself.
I was mad at the culture we’ve created surrounding miscarriages.
I had very well-intended women swarm around me telling me, “It wasn’t meant to be. The baby just wasn’t ready. God has a plan. Mother Nature took care of it for you. It happens all the time. Women have lots of miscarriages. You’re not the only one. I had five miscarriages before I had Johnny.”
Can I just tell you straight up – When a woman is drowning in mourning, she doesn’t want to hear any of that. It is not comforting, even though it is intended to be. However, it inadvertently minimizes her pain and experience. And, I get it – We naturally want to ease the pain of someone suffering, therefore, we try to take some of it away by saying those things. But, you can’t take someone’s pain for them. Nor should you try to. Pain, while uncomfortable to deal with, is important and necessary for the mourner.
So, instead, acknowledge her loss and let her lead her healing process.
Don’t tell her how to feel or how to deal with it.
It’s her loss, not yours.
Let it be about her, not you, or anyone else.
I also had men and women who just outright avoided me for a few weeks because they were uncomfortable, and I understand why. They felt it was better to just not say or do anything, since they didn’t know what to say or do. But, admittedly, that hurt me, too. I really needed to be acknowledged.
And then, there were the others.
I got asked, “Did you eat anything you shouldn’t have? Maybe it was that sushi you ate. Do you think it’s because you worked out too much? Were you doing something you shouldn’t have right before it happened? Maybe you’re too muscular to carry (I owned a CrossFit gym at the time).”
I don’t think I need to explain how utterly disgusted I felt by these questions, and how inappropriate it is to ask any mother these types of questions after the loss of her unborn child, so we will move on…
As a blogger and social media participant, I saw a great deal of moms pleading their cases, followed by trolls shaming them, and then others excusing them, while still others were just insensitive and downright despicable. I started questioning humanity at this point.
There was NO SAFE PLACE for me to go and deal with my miscarriage. So, I did what too many of us do – I closed my door, hid under the covers, and cried my heart and soul out all by myself. I hid from the world. I dealt with it alone. I felt like I had to, and THAT made me mad, because we have created that environment.
Eventually, I was able to write about it in my blog, and I tried to start a real conversation about it, but alas, no one seemed ready for it yet.
How can we undo the damage here? How can we create a better culture around this? And, what word would better represent this personal experience?
To this day, every time I have an OBGYN appt and I must fill out an information sheet, and it asks how many pregnancies, births, abortions, and miscarriages I’ve had, I still tense up at having to mark that fourth box with that word next to it. It stings, to say the least.
And, I still haven’t figured out a better word for it.
Back when I had to explain to our oldest daughter why we weren’t going to have a baby, I told her that we were getting a Guardian Angel. Maybe that’s what we call it, because I would be much more willing and able to answer the question, “How many Guardian Angels do you have,” on my OBGYN information sheet.
So, can we, as a society, better yet, as a COMMUNITY, create a better word and a better culture for this?
Can we start a better healing process together, and give moms a safe place?
We need to start somewhere, though, and I think starting with a new word is a great place to begin!
After our loss in 2015, we were fortunate to have our second daughter in 2016, and this week we will be welcoming our third (Sept 2018)!!!