The problem with miscarriage is that as well as being silent – i.e. no one really talks about it – it’s also invisible. Often there’s been no pregnancy announcement, there was no visible bump, no scan pictures, no ‘gender reveal’; no evidence at all, in fact, that there ever was a baby. And it’s hard to understand what you can’t see. What you can’t picture.
Well, it’s Baby Loss Awareness Week this week, so I thought I would share with you a snapshot to give an idea of what miscarriage means.
This is The Box Under The Bed. It’s all the discarded things from our pregnancies, hastily shoved aside. Our pathetic little basket of hopes and dreams.
Take a look.
This is what miscarriage is. It’s baby books you don’t know if you’ll ever need. It’s names picked out, but never shared, never uttered out loud by anyone other than the two of you. It’s half-finished packets of Pregnacare. It’s pages of pointless midwife notes and redundant Bounty folders from your booking-in appointments (the striped green, white and pink folders you can see in the bottom right-hand corner). It’s folders full of pamphlets about labour options and breast-feeding (choices you never got to make), leaflets for ante-natal clubs (friends you never got to make), and inanely chirpy magazines that cover every aspect of pregnancy, apart from miscarriage; folders that you don’t quite know what to do with now.
You will never use them, as they make you do a new set of notes (and effing blood tests) with every pregnancy. You should, by all the laws and by-laws of de-cluttering, chuck them. They certainly don’t bring you joy. But it feels wrong, somehow.
OK, so ‘Bounty Folders, Never Used’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ‘Baby Shoes, Never Worn’ – but it’s the same sad story.
And it’s time you saw it.
It’s time we spoke about this more openly. Not just a conspiratorial whisper, woman to woman, long after children have eventually appeared and grown. Not just when it’s ‘safe’ and there’s a happy ending.
Miscarriage’s veil of invisibility makes it easy not to think about as long as it’s not happening to you. It’s a funny issue (not funny-ha-ha, obviously) as almost everyone has heard of miscarriage; you know it happens, but that’s not the same as it being understood. Even the word ‘miscarriage’ gives an impression of not-really-there-ness; an aberration; a miscalculation. Just a heavy period.
Well, I call bullshit.
This is happening to more people than you know. It’s physically and emotionally devastating. It leaves women and men feeling like wrung-out dish rags, in a world that seems to be looking the other way. Please don’t. Please look – this is what a miscarriage looks like.