(copied with permission from Bainne Mamaí by Kimberlee Larsen Kenner) I’ve resisted using the term “Miscarriage” when referring to early pregnancy loss. I’ve felt that the word itself is a poor word minimizing the loss and placing blame on the mother. I’ve used instead babyloss. I’ve done this for several reasons. It is closer to what it is, the loss of a baby. It validates the loss better. It is more inclusive including miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss. I’ve felt a little bit that separating them measures them. Whether this has been intentional or not. Places I’ve been (online or otherwise) that separate loss into categories, give it a sense of measure involved. Again minimizing the devastating loss a miscarriage is.
I wonder though, if avoiding the use of the word miscarriage is contributing to the taboo of the loss. Contributing to the taboo that a miscarriage is. That in and of itself would have the opposite effect of what I am trying to do. To validate and educate that a miscarriage is a real, and devastating loss. The loss of a baby.
Of course a miscarriage is a different loss than either a stillbirth or a neonatal loss. A woman who has miscarried may not get the opportunity to see and hold her baby. She may not get the opportunity to say goodbye to this child. She is often pregnant one day and not the next with no ceremony and no closure. The baby that she already loved and anticipated is simply gone. There is no real tangible evidence that he or she ever existed. To this mother, this baby is very very real.
A miscarried baby is often not buried, there is no funeral, there are few condolences. The pregnancy may not yet have been announced. Not everyone knows how horrible a miscarriage really is. There is no burial place to visit. There are few people to talk to. Miscarriage is taboo.
Often a miscarriage is physically traumatic. It is physically painful. There may be a significant amount of bleeding. Some mothers may be recovering from surgery. Add this to some of the previous points, and there may not be an opportunity to take time to heal physically or emotionally.
Is there a right answer? A more appropriate term? Does it really matter as long as the message gets out. Miscarriage is a big deal. It is the loss of a child.