"Releasing the Baby"
Written: 30th Dec 2004 | Last Updated: 30th Dec 2004
Somehow, in conversation over the holidays, the topic of miscarriage came up. We usually refer to this very sad event by saying the mother has “lost the baby”. I got to thinking about this – the finger-pointing cruelty of the phrase. Why haven’t we women come up with something better? Is it because we still believe we were put on this Earth to take the blame for everything?
Spontaneous abortion is a natural event precipitated by some inherent irregularity or physical trauma in a growing foetus. Unless a mother is extremely irresponsible and puts her baby’s life at risk by indulging in dangerous habits, miscarriage is usually considered to be “nature taking its course”. For some genetic or health reason, the baby may not be able to be sustained to term, and the body simply lets it go. While loaded with myth and female guilt, it is, in the majority of cases, a natural phenomenon.
Telling a hormonally overactive and emotionally distressed woman that she has “lost the baby” is tantamount to accusing her of murder. It puts fault squarely in her lap – or in her uterus. In some instances, the woman may indeed have difficulty carrying a baby…she may have obstructions in her uterus such as fibroids or endometriosis. She may be diabetic or have a weak cervix or placenta. On the other hand, the father’s sperm may be defective – or he and his partner may have a rhesus incompatibility, or the mixture of egg and sperm may not be a good genetic match. But does that make “losing it” her fault…his fault? Or is it just the way life is?
Becoming parents requires love and patience and compassion from both mother and the father – and the kind of unity that resists placing blame or stirring guilt or fostering feelings of angst if something goes horribly wrong. If nature takes its course during the exciting, expectant but often risky first half of pregnancy, and a baby dies, shouldn’t a woman just say “my body released the baby early”? It’s a non-judgmental, spiritually fluid way of saying the child has been a part of the couple’s life long enough to be adored, but not long enough to be known.
There’s no easy path after “releasing” a baby – it’s a hard slog to get through the pain and lack of confidence generated by the whole experience. But maybe by accepting the “release” as a sign of your body’s inner wisdom, it will soothe the mind, heal the body and help create a healthy environment for a new child when you’re ready to try again.