The Death of a potential human, English
Yesterday, I read a very good post (one of many, she is a wise woman) by a friend . She wrote about what and how things had happened when her and her man (I hesitate using that terminology usually, but in this case it’s clear – he belongs to her. ;) came to the hospital to deliver their first child. It was a tale of confusion, of frustration and of things done wrong. I apologize if this post contains spelling errors and grammatical abuse: the topic makes me angry, and I seem to be missing a spell-checker. Now.. go on.In it, I recognized several aspects of it that I’ve met myself in other parts of Swedish healthcare. It made me want to write about certain aspects of child delivery that isn’t often spoken of – the male perspective. But before I could muster the energy to start this computer, my mind had slid into another topic: miscarriage.
Now, speaking about having a miscarriage is often considered taboo; I’ve been told many times by several people around me that you simply don’t discuss it… and it boggles my mind.
Now, statistics in general are rarely dramatic but when it comes to miscarriages, the numbers really fuck with my head quite a lot. Numbers show that 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriages. That’s one in five. One. In. Five. Considering that is just the number of cases that are known; a lot of pregnancies end even before the woman realizes that is has happened – it may just manifest itself as an usually heavy period. That could put the number roughly around 40-50%. Dramatic enough? No? Ok. Add to that the statistic that roughly around 20% of those women who suffer one miscarriage will go on to suffer recurring miscarriages as well. A survey from 2008 also shows that 74% of women feel that it is “partly their fault” that it happens. And we don’t talk about this? What the fuck?
Death brings with it many sorrows and plenty of grief, but it also carries with it community support, ceremonies and support to deal with it in a semi-coherent fashion. This simply doesn’t exist when it comes to losing a child prematurely – there is no condolence cards for when your potential baby dies. It’s an invisible loss that only really hit the parents, and of course the woman carrying the child in particular. After our first pregnancy (I use the term “ours”, and if you believe the man isn’t entitled to that you can simply just bugger off, honestly) ended prematurely people around us who found out came out and told us their own similar stories about the loss of potential life. All that I could think when they did was.. why on earth did you wait until NOW? Why not come out and talk about it when it happened – sure, it’s tough retelling and reliving something that traumatic, but.. we could have helped support you! If you needed a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to or simply just a friendly face it could have been provided. Don’t carry that sort of burden around with you all alone. Now, granted, many people might not actually want to talk about it, they might just want to forget, and that’s fine… but I’m someone who resolves things by thinking about them, talking them over and sooner or later writing about it and had I encountered this before, it would certainly have made my grief process a lot more manageable.
For us, it happened in week 12. My wife got serious cramps in her stomach, and the pains just wouldn’t go away. After being stubborn about seeking help at the hospital, I finally got her to the emergency room. We told a nurse of her symptoms and was told that someone would be along shortly to help us. Now; shortly when it comes to healthcare is a relative term. We waited for about 1½ hours for the gynecologist to appear. She was a tall drink of water, with long blonde hair and a demeanor that didn’t exactly encourage trust or any form of relaxation, and honestly, both me and my wife were pretty damn tense even beforehand. We spoke shortly about her symptoms again , and she decided that an ultrasound would be a good place to start. I was sent out of the room – I wasn’t given the option to stay, I was straight up ordered out. Knowing my wife (and myself), I should have been there. My wife would have liked having the support, and I wouldn’t have had to sit in the corridor to wait like someone on trial awaiting sentencing.
It didn’t take long before the doctor opened the door, and told me; no, ordered me back inside. I could tell from the expression on my wife’s face that something had happened – I just couldn’t tell how bad it was. Her face was blank. I hadn’t even closed the door behind me when the doctor said (and I quote): “Ok, it seems like your baby has died. It’s been dead for at least three weeks, as you can see from this picture it’s a lot smaller than it should be. This isn’t uncommon. If you go on home, we’ll schedule a time for your wife’s D&C (Dilation and Curettage. If you don’t know what this is, be happy.). If there was nothing else, I’ll move along.” With that, she turned and left. During her short monolog she expressed about as much emotion as your average pine cone does during its lifetime. Now, normally I’m not one to hold back when I’m angry or annoyed and I’ve been known to be fairly quick-witted in my replies, but her delivery of the news that just shattered our existence was so quick and unfeeling I couldn’t even get a single word out. She basically just ripped the rug out from under our feet and left.
Leaving the room in sort of a haze, we walked through the emergency room out to our car and got in to drive back home. We still hadn’t shared many words, and the silence just built up even more. We got about a third of the way home before I had to pull the car over, and basically explode. Sorrow, anger, frustration and confusion all came out of me at once. Like a mirror shattering, shards of thoughts and emotions went flying through the air, and it took quite a while before I could gather myself enough to be able to drive. Back home, we sat down together and talked things through, tears rolling down our faces. Is this really the way things like this should be done? Isn’t there a better way to handle something that is this common?
During the weeks and months to come, it became clear that me and my wife handled things very differently. She was sad and depressed, and lacked energy – I on the other hand, was angry… at the world, at myself, at my wife (No, it’s not rational. Yes, it still happened) and even at the dog and everything that even came close to me. And together we rode out the storm. But.. again, I ask you – is this the way of dealing with this? No!
All this ranting and raving, and all I really wanted to do was to make this point: Talk about your miscarriage(s)! It might help you deal with it, and it might help someone else deal with theirs – and in situations like this, help is needed. And if enough people talk about it, changes to how we as a society deal with this might change for the better.