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 dict.org) 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.