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Archive for January, 2011

Why is miscarriage shrouded in secrecy?

January 18, 2011 | By: | Filed under: Check This Out, Current Affairs, Faith and Infertility, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., Infertility on Television, IVF, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Thinking Out Loud, Treatment

I’ve said it before and I cannot believe I am saying it again.  Why is having a miscarriage something people pretend never happened?  Or worse, why are people judged so harshly after having had a miscarriage for not embracing any subsequent pregnancy and being a little bit cautious and tentative about the whole thing?

Yesterday I read an article on some random website announcing that a celebrity had just announced she was pregnant. The article was extremely critical of the fact that she had waited until the 6th month to announce her pregnancy, and commented that it may have been due to the fact that she had suffered a prior miscarriage.  It then went on to discuss all sorts of celebrity pregnancy issues.  But it was about the third article I have seen recently commenting on a celebrity’s miscarriage.  None of the articles were supportive, not even for the one celebrity that was openly going through fertility treatment and then lost a baby.  Any miscarriage at any time in pregnancy is awful.  As many of you know my final infertility diagnosis was unexplained pregnancy loss (which has since been explained).  I had 5 IVF miscarriages (including a pregnancy that started as twins), and I don’t want to tell you how many more I have had on top of that because at some point you just have to stop counting and cope.  I have blogged about at least one of them.

I have always been open about my miscarriages and my pregnancies.  I am one of those “put it out there” kind of people.  But a lot of people choose not to share early pregnancies.  They instead choose to wait to make an announcement when they are sure that the pregnancy is viable or the fetus is otherwise healthy.  Everyone does it their own way.  And as this is a very personal subject, I was offended that this article “accused” this celebrity of failing to disclose her pregnancy earlier.  MYOB!

Miscarriage is poorly understood on so many levels.  I will blog about the medical aspects later, but for today let’s address the emotional component. I may have blogged about this before but someone recently commented to me that 20 years ago no one even talked about this.  My grandmother’s generation suffered in complete silence, often not even sharing the loss of a pregnancy with their spouse!!  The fact that we are beginning to talk openly about miscarriage is a huge leap forward.

Did you know that among the fertile population only 20% of all conceptions result in a live birth?  That number decreases with age.  With so many women choosing to build their families later in life, whether they conceive on their own or with some form of medical assistance, their chances of experiencing a pregnancy loss are much higher.  Doctor’s often warn patients who are over 35 not to get excited about a pregnancy until they see a heartbeat on ultrasound because the risk of miscarriage is so high.  NOvary™ or not, miscarriage is devastating.

If you ask me, all these women need support, information, and the ability to discuss their grief in whatever manner is most appropriate for them and to do so without criticism!  But the fact remains that most people still won’t even admit they had a miscarriage.  The entire first trimester of pregnancy is shrouded in secrecy and thus any resulting miscarriage is as well.  It is not a personal failure to lose a baby.  It is an overwhelming emotional experience whether you are six weeks or six months pregnant.  I think people should be able to talk about miscarriage — I think people need to be better educated about pregnancy loss but as noted that is a subject for a different blog post — and not have it be considered something shameful or even worse, “no skin off your nose dear, you were only 7 weeks pregnant, get over it”.

Is it the fear of being shamed that causes us to hide our miscarriages as was true for my grandmother and her generation?  Is it the need for privacy and the accompanying silence during the first trimester that causes the secrecy?  Or is it the fear of the “just get over it” response that people don’t discuss this topic?

Well, I am going to discuss this topic.  I think I have enough experience to have some insight into the emotional aspects of pregnancy loss and I’ve done a ton of research on the topic, both for The Infertility Survival Handbook, my own personal curiosity and now for the revised and updated version of my book.

My final comment of the day is this.  Whether we choose to grieve in silence or in public, please don’t attack us for our choice in so doing; you need to understand that it is a tremendous blow to every woman (not to mention her partner) who experiences a pregnancy loss.  If you know someone who has shared this information with you, BE SUPPORTIVE.

I was dropping my son off at school recently and there is church nearby where I had parked my car.  Alongside the church is a beautiful garden and in that garden there was a headstone that caught my attention.  It was a headstone with the picture of a baby in-utero and it was dedicated to all the unborn children in the world. The headstone had the name of a baby who died in utero at about 5 month’s gestation.  It wasn’t some pro-life stunt; this was a real headstone for a real fetus who died leaving a family devastated.

If I can do it, I will try and post a picture of the headstone (without the family’s name).  I would like to thank that family for putting that headstone there and for the church for allowing it, because I now have a place to go and lay flowers on my “bad” days.  Because frankly, my girlfriends don’t get it.  This headstone gives me an outlet, a place that recognizes what I and so many others have been through.

And for those of you who have experienced a pregnancy loss you have my empathy and a giant cyber hug. To that celebrity who just announced her pregnancy at 6 months, you have my congratulations.  To that cyber author, I can’t post what I think about you, but I do hope that you never have to endure what so many of us have been through.



3 comments   

Is the movie Eggsploitation, exploiting itself?

January 14, 2011 | By: | Filed under: Announcements, Check This Out, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., IVF, Personal Musings, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction

I know I haven’t been blogging very much and I know I keep promising that I will.  Honestly, I have been trying to determine what type of “voice” I want my blog to have.  Do I want to be a voice of comfort, reassurance and peace of mind, do I want to discuss topics that are highly relevant and even personal to me with respect to infertility as I am an infertility warrior, or do I want to speak as an expert in my field and educate people.  I suppose I could find a way to do all three and I haven’t yet found the right “pitch” (just continuing the voice metaphor here folks) to launch some knew blogs.  And I think I found it.

I try and stay out of highly controversial discussions in my industry and to avoid taking sides unless I feel passionately about the issue.  Sometimes blogging backfires (ala Sarah Palin’s recent “hit list” and the resulting death of 15 people).  But I have come across another of those issues that MUST be discussed, so I am hereby entering into the foray and it’s along the lines of my “what was Brooke Shields thinking” blogs.

Let’s get real for a moment and turn to a movie reel about egg donation.

I today learned that the “documentary” Eggsploitation was announced to have been nominated as best documentary.  When I read this on FaceBook this morning I almost vomitted.  For those of you who haven’t seen it . . . and please don’t see it if you are considering either becoming an egg donor or using an egg donor to build a family . . . it is highly inaccurate and inflammatory.  Please understand that I am trying to be nice.

The movie is an attempt by right wing, pro-life. Christian conservatives to reveal the “real world of egg donation”.  And Honey, it doesn’t.  It serves one purpose only, to promote an anti-IVF anti-egg donation agenda.  And in my mind it isn’t a documentary unless you are basing your documentary on something with a substantial amount of truth or accuracy.  A documentary by one definition is the “creative treatment of actuality”.  I will agree to the creative part with respect to this film, but not the actuality part (with one caveat, I will agree that egg donation exists as a means to build a family).  Another definition says that a documentary presents the facts with little or no additions.  Isn’t it a failure to present the facts if you only present one side, or one statistically insignificant, rare and otherwise atypical aspect of something, i.e. ONE fact when there are many facts to be discussed?

This film is based on untruths, inaccuracies, mythical stories, and an agenda. It veils itself as a documentary in order to lend some false sense of “truth” to the movie’s topic, the exploitation of egg donors and recipient families all to the benefit of the massive money generating industry of reproductive medicine.

The reproductive industry has responded many times in opposition to the film, as have many of my colleagues (for example, here is another blog on the topic http://weblog.prospectivefamilies.com/2011/01/13/what-more-is-there-to-say-about-eggsploitation/ ).  I think it’s pretty much a universal sentiment in my world, both professional and personal, that this movie has nothing to do with reality and is serving to mislead the general public about a viable and very successful means of family building, egg donation.

I really think it has gotten to the point that the movie is now exploiting itself for its own financial benefit.   They are now twisting all the negative media attention into an argument that if they weren’t so “right” about the industry that there wouldn’t be so many defensive and anti-Eggsploitation blogs/articles/reviews.  It’s kind of like the old saying “you know you’ve done something right if they’re shooting at you!”  And they are using that to drive more people into movie theaters.

Well I don’t think they’ve done anything right, I am disgusted by the MOVIE, and I am disgusted that anyone would think it was worthy of the title “best” in anything.  I haven’t spoken out before because I didn’t want to further publicize this movie and thus encourage people to watch it — even if it is to see how wrong it is.

And for the love of all that is sacred about the word FAMILY, I respectfully request that the movie industry get a grip and get real.  Don’t endorse this movie.  Many a Hollywood family has been created through the gift of egg donation.  Do you really want to slap your egg donor in the face like that?  By promoting, endorsing, and casting something that she did to help you have a baby and a family, in such a negative, illicit and patronizing light?

I’m not saying the world of reproductive medicine is perfect.  I have some bones to pick with things that happen in the world in which work.  And I will cut the producers of this movie and Hollywood some slack and say that if you are going to focus on the very creative aspects of the use of truth to create a dialog (albeit the wrong dialog) then okay maybe this is a documentary.  But it’s a documentary that I refuse to endorse on any level.

Someone can, and should, do a better job at looking at the gifts that third party assisted reproduction are giving to infertile families.

Blech Blech Blech.



3 comments   



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