Friday, July 11, 2014

It's not the same

One of the support groups I participate in has the mantra that all loss is the same, be it a miscarriage or a stillbirth.

I disagree with this.

I've had a miscarriage, and I'm now going through a pregnancy with a fatal diagnosis, and the pain is different.

This is not to belittle miscarriage.  It hurts and there is a definite grieving process and in many ways it is very very similar to stillbirth/neonatal loss.  But it is not the same.

Even early miscarriage isn't the same as late miscarriage.  Losing a baby at 8 weeks when you've only just begun to get used to the idea of pregnancy and a baby is different from losing a baby at 18 or 19 or 20 weeks, when you've already started debating names and maybe have even felt the baby move.  And those are both different from going through a pregnancy knowing the outcome will be horrible.

I've been told "I had a miscarriage, I know what you're going through."  No, no you don't.  You can probably guess what I'm going through and how I feel, and you may well even get pretty close, but you don't know.  I didn't know.  I knew what it was like to have a miscarriage, to have a surgical procedure done to relieve the physical pain and realize afterward that nothing's going to help the emotional pain but time and lots of it.

But I did not experience anticipatory grief.  I had not felt my baby move in me, had not treasured hiccups and then cried because once birth arrived, my baby would leave.

Even now, I realize I only know what I know.

I do not, for instance, know what it is like to have a stillbirth when you were expecting a healthy baby.  And honestly, I think that's got to be worse than what I'm dealing with.  I know.  I can prepare.  I had only bought and made a few things; I won't have a houseful of baby stuff to go home from.  I think I get off pretty light in comparison.  (But I don't know.  Maybe there's someone who went through that and thinks it would have been much worse to go through a pregnancy knowing the outcome would be horrible.)

I look at people I know who have lost children...the mom from my due date club whose son was born the same day as mine and who died when the boys were 10 months old, my brother whose 2-year-old died of cancer, my online friend whose 16-year-old died from complications of EB, and I realize that soon I will join them in that club of parents who have lost a child.  But it's a loose club.  Our experiences, while roughly similar, are not the same.  Not even close.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm keeping score.  I'm not; I'm not trying to set up some sort of loss hierarchy.  Whatever loss a person has suffered is still loss, is still horrible.

But it's not all the same.

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