Five of Five
For me, there is some shame associated with the very word, "miscarriage." The word implies someone missed, messed, mistakenly carried the child. And the only person carrying this child was me.
Miscarriage sounds like I mis-carried our child, like I dropped or crushed them, that somehow my body was not a safe place for them, that my womb was inhospitable to life. It feels like there is a failure in me. I KNOW there isn't failure in me, but I FEEL like there was. And the dictionary backs me up on this one.
“Miscarriage” in Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary of the English Language means
- “to be unsuccessful, to fail, to bring forth prematurely”
- “a misdeed, includes a sense of ‘wrong’, to send away, the verb 'to miss', other forms mis-take, mis-become, mis-give, mis-lay, mis-lead, mis-like, mis-name, mis-shape, mis-time, mis-understand, mis-apply, mis-apprehend, mis-appropriate, mis-call, mis-hap, mi-take.”
- to convey on a car, cart
I think we need a new word, and somehow the new PC "spontaneous abortion" does not work. The process is neither fun or lighthearted as “spontaneous” conveys nor is it wise to associate the loss of life with a word that is often used when we intend to end life, as "abortion" does. Perhaps “incomplete pregnancy” or “truncated pregnancy” or “premature fetal death” . . .
It’s strange how something as brief as 1 month and 2 weeks of my life, something like this premature baby’s death would give me the credentials to be more respected. All of a sudden, I'm a mother. I can never say, “I’ve never had a child”, now. It’s baffling and incommensurate to me how a surprise pregnancy, out of which I can claim no pre-mediation or planning and then 6 weeks after that another surprise event of losing the child endows me with credentials, how could it make me “more of a woman”? I suppose I’m such a firm believer in our will to choose the shaping of our souls that when an event such as this is thrust on me, I feel I can claim no credit.
Yet it is these unforeseen, unchosen events that do change us—the death of a beloved friend, the death of a child, the death of a parent, always thrust on us most unwillingly.
I know more this side of my first pregnancy, I see more clearly what "life and death", "life-bearing" and "miscarriage" mean, how pregnancy is interwoven with joy and pain, and what woman and man can and cannot share. And I see the stark need for women to share more of their experiences as we develop a bigger, more vulnerable theology of our bodies.
Yes, in a way, a miscarriage feels shameful, but it's more, too. Next to the shame is a more substantial feeling. I feel privileged to be able to live this step of life and death, to have had a chance to have a child. Perhaps I can take Christ’s life as a model in this, too, "the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame." (Heb. 12:2).