Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pregnancy, stillbirth, I've written a lot...

So I guess I should say something.

I feel really exposed publishing all those pregnancy posts.  I am actually a really private person and I don't like discussing my feelings, certainly not face to face, although I can manage it online.

As I said in the first post, I published this stuff because people need to know that babies die, and that this goes on in the midst of the rest of life, and that somehow, the rest of life goes on, whether we want it to or not.  I still read comics.  I still piss about on twitter and tumblr.  I go to work.  I see some friends.  I eat and I shit and I sleep and I breathe.  My body forces me too.  Grief sits alongside all that.  Losing your baby... everything has changed and nothing has changed.  People need to understand that.  Just because I go on with normal everyday life does not mean I am normal, that I have forgotten, that I am not hurting.  I will continue to hurt and I will miss my son until my dying breath and I just have to learn how to deal with that.

The second reason for posting is that others with rainbow pregnancies, or wanting rainbows, are probably looking for similar experiences and evidence of how life continues with all this stuff happening too.  I know that's what  I wanted last year.  I didn't want specialist baby loss books.  I wanted to know how this rawness could fit alongside everyday activities.

I deliberately did not blog C's pregnancy, because there are hundreds of first pregnancy blogs out there and I had nothing to add.  I also wanted things kept private.  I still want things kept private. There are things I will never ever ever post on here.  But now, there is a need for people to talk about rainbow babies and to see how it fits with the rest of their lives.  I have not been able to find any blogs about this that are not exclusively about this, and so I want more. So there must be others who want more as well.  So maybe I can help.

Of course, writing like this, for others, gives me a more objective feel, it sets me outside of my situation, and that helps because then it hurts less, for a bit.

One thing this will not become is a campaigning blog.  My son is worth more than that and I will not have him reduced to a slogan or a movement.

So a few words on language.
Please do not ever refer to my son, or any other children, as 'a stillbirth'.  Say that he died.  Or say he 'was stillborn', or that he was born still.  Referring to him as 'a stillbirth' is dehumanising.  He is not an event, a thing which just happened to me and then left.  He is a person and he deserves to be recognised as such.

Also, the word stillbirth does not really convey what happened - people don't understand that it means the child died in utero.  By referring to him as 'a stillbirth' (a noun?) you are making the circumstances of his birth the important thing, and people can file it in their minds without really understanding.  By saying he was stillborn (a verb?) you make him the subject and you describe how he was born (except you don't really because children die at all sorts of stages, before and during labour, and after, quite regularly).  That's important.  But best of all, you should say he died and then say he was stillborn.

I thought quite carefully about how to title these posts.  I decided on pregnancy after stillbirth rather than pregnancy after loss, or rainbow pregnancy, or second pregnancy, because I wanted it to be absolutely clear.  I wanted there to be no confusion.  I want people to come across this and go 'oh, stillbirth, that means they died in utero, that means babies die before they are born'.  If I titled these posts pregnancy after loss people might think that he died at a few hours or a few days old.  Those situations are just as terrible, but they aren't my situation.

I'll just say something about miscarriage - I hate that word.  Everyone knows about first tri miscarriage, but very few know what it involves.  No one knows about second tri miscarriage.  You have to labour if your baby dies after 14 weeks.  If your baby dies and you deliver him or her at 23 weeks and 6 days, your baby is classed as a miscarriage.  If your baby dies and you deliver him or her at 24 weeks exactly, your baby is classed as being stillborn.

No one can tell me that the baby is less of a baby for being born a day earlier.

Miscarriage is a vastly misunderstood term and doesn't convey the horror of your baby dying.  As far as I'm concerned your baby is a baby as soon as you decide it is, whether that's 5 weeks, 15 weeks or 25 weeks.  'Miscarriage' seems to reduce them to being abstracts when really, if they die after 16 weeks you've probably already heard their heartbeat and felt them move.  And yet they are never legally classed as a person.  I realise the 24 week thing in the UK is linked to viability and also probably our abortion laws, and someone more sophisticated than me will have to come up with a solution, but it seems to me that the term miscarriage is a cruel one.

No comments: