Sunday, 27 June 2010

the unspoken truth

I wrote this post on Wednesday afternoon but blogger was playing up and then I forgot I hadn't posted it. Just so you know.


I'm in the library as I write. I used to come here a lot on my Wednesday afternoons, but then I discovered Starbucks' free wifi and decided that coffee won over frugality.

And the corner I usually sit in is next to the Health section. Just one of those things. But every time I'm here, I look over and see what pregnancy books I can see.

(It's only occurring to me now that maybe it would be more sensible to sit somewhere else.)

And today, I saw one I hadn't seen before. Pregnancy for Modern Girls. The tagline: 'The naked truth about being pregnant.' According to the back, this is 'the only guide to tell it like it really is'.

So, as I do these days, I checked the index for mention of 'miscarriage' and 'stillbirth'. And I was gratified to see that miscarriage is actually mentioned on 14 different pages! 14! Compared to many of the books I'd seen, that's pretty amazing.

Optimistically I flicked to each page. And my optimism died a death. Because yes, sure, it mentions miscarriage on 14 different pages. But nearly every single one is a mention of a risk factor that might cause miscarriage. (Oh except for page 67, which states 'Usually, there's no reason – in the vast majority of cases, it's simply nature's way of dispelling a foetus that has a problem', in a manner that's a) contradictory, b) breathtakingly unhelpful, and c) uses a word that means 'To drive away by scattering, or so to cause to vanish; to clear away; to banish; to dissipate; as, to dispel a cloud, vapors, cares, doubts, illusions' (according to which is NOT what you want to think your body is doing to your much-loved, much-wanted baby.)

There's also a mention that miscarriage risk falls massively by 13 weeks (but no real mention of the fact that it can still happen after this point, for no reason or with no symptoms) and contact details for the Miscarriage Association (too little too late; by the time you need them this is the last thing you'll think of).

There's no mention of missed miscarriage at all. No mention of coping with the aftermath of a miscarriage. No mention of pregnancy following miscarriage.

Not a single mention of stillbirth or neonatal death.

Now, that's interesting. Because last time I checked the SANDS website it told me that seventeen babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every single day in the UK.

That's 6205 babies a year. 6222 in a Leap Year.

That's an awful lot of women.

And what do those mothers need? It's not to be ignored. It's not to be marginalised. It's not to have to pretend that what happened to them wasn't anything, really. But when the only books out there don't mention the real emotional aftermath of miscarriage – let alone stillbirth or the death of a new born baby – or when they don't acknowledge how traumatic pregnancy after (any kind of) loss can be, they do women no favours.

One of the reasons people don't know what to say, one of the reasons they say hurtful tactless things is that this loss is marginalised. It's hidden. It's swept under the carpet. And that does noone any favours. Not the women who suffer it, but neither does it help their friends or family who want to help, who want to say the right things but don't have a clue what that is. So say the wrong things, or – worse – say nothing at all.


I've mentioned this before. But the more I think about it the more I realise that it's needed.

I'm going to write that book.

Maybe even more than one. I can think of others that are needed.

I will need your help with this.

Thank you so much for encouraging me.


lis said...

a wonderful idea, and i can't think of anyone better to write that book. i will be willing to help in any way possible...i may even plan a a trip out to help :)

Illanare said...

I think it's a wonderful idea - it is very much needed. And like Lis, would be willing to help if you needed it.

car said...

I was just thinking about how they should talk about late and full term losses at pre-natal classes. If more people realized what could happen, maybe we wouldn't be so isolated. Write your book B and I'll be glad to help.(even if all I can contribute is virtual cheerleading)

D.H. said...

Go for it!

mare said...

You are right. That is a great idea, and, as others have said, I would be willing to help in any way!

C.A. Marshall said...

When you've got it written, I've got a template that I use when I work with other authors to write their proposals that I can send to you. I'll look it over too, if you'd like. Free of charge, of course.

Get writing!


B said...

thank you all for your support. i'm doing this.

biojen said...

I will be in line for proofreading/sounding board, whenever you need me. That is a fantastic idea. There are so few books to turn to, I can't wait to read it. Thanks for thinking of this.

And I am so sorry it took me so long to follow this blog. I have been reading it but keep forgetting to add it to my reader so I'm always behind. You are now on the reader (in two places!) so I will keep up when I'm not working myself to death.

B said...

thank you jen honey. xx