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The Forum > Article Comments > For those who don't live to breathe > Comments

For those who don't live to breathe : Comments

By Mary Bryant, published 28/3/2007

We now bury babies that survive to twenty weeks gestation but when doctors drew the line in the sand they forgot to think of the mother.

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Thankyou for telling me how you felt, and feel.
I remember writing, when my wife and I were realy wanting a baby,thwarted by endometriosis, that every period felt like a funeral. Even when there was nothing there except possibility.
Posted by citizen, Wednesday, 28 March 2007 11:00:01 AM
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Thanks for raising the issue. I was lucky when I miscarried at 12 weeks. A feminist friend was visiting and we put together a ritual. The foetus was laid out in a nice little cardboard box that was covered in cheesecloth that my children sewed together. We had little flowers in it and lit a couple of candles around it that burnt all night. The next morning, at dawn, the whole family rose and, carrying white ribbons connected to the little box, we walked down to the back garden and buried him. We placed flowers and reverred the spot until the emotion ran out. I know he's still there, happily still among us. Somehow, the ritual completed the experience and tied us all together at a time when it was easy to rip us apart. My husband couldn't forgive me for miscarrying and left within 18 months. He ascribed to me more power than I ever possessed. And somehow, that part of my life is still OK after 20 years.
Posted by KerryMcG, Wednesday, 28 March 2007 11:57:07 AM
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Is the 20 week line in the sand drawn because few women are likely to feel the baby move before that time? Does this feeling of life moving create more grief if the baby subsequently dies, than it would have if there was an early miscarriage? I am not trying to anger anyone here, just trying to create a bit of discussion. I am interested as I have never miscarried, although have not yet finished having my family yet, so is still a possibility. Perhaps I am a little more indifferent to the idea, as I expected to miscarry at least once before I gave birth. Or perhaps I am aware that a lot of miscarriages result from unviable life and so look at it more dispassionately - ie it was never meant to be. I really dont know - its a subject that is so individually emotional. A lot of women experience grief when they find out that they have to have a C-section. For some reason they feel that they are less of a woman. I was basically expected to grieve by the nursing staff and made feel bad in a way because I couldnt care less - as far as I am concerned a birth is a birth. Maybe this is because I am a practical person, or maybe its because my mother had to have C-sections, so to me it is normal. Mind you, I discount this last reason because she was one of those women who kept pushing to have a "natural" birth every time.
Posted by Country Gal, Wednesday, 28 March 2007 12:25:59 PM
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My deepest sympathy for any couple who loses a baby through miscarriage. I have had two early miscarriages and grieved both times. However this article is NOT based on fact. Every feotus over 20 week must be buried by law. However the parents always have a choice to bury a miscarried/aborted foetus of any gestational duration. The doctor may wish tests to determine the cause of the miscarriage so that further miscarriages may be prevented. However pathologists take only a small sample to examine for abnormal genetic material and the parent may ask for the feotus for burial afterwards.
Posted by Marsketa, Wednesday, 28 March 2007 8:58:38 PM
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My condolences for your loss. Because it is a loss of a tiny human life.

I think you can thank the anti-abortion movement as a contributing reason to your confusion about grief and ceremony. They have, amongst others, dehumanised the unborn to the point that they have become just chunks of cells. Despite the scientific fact that a person is a human being from the moment of conception, for some reason pro-abortionist essentially insist that a human being isnít a human being until they pass through the vaginal tract or the wall of the womb.
Posted by solomani, Friday, 30 March 2007 2:16:03 PM
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I am currently in my 23rd week of my 10th pregnancy. I have 3 children surviving. The other children I lost before I met them face to face. They too were treated by the medical assembly as "not really real yet", but they all felt very real to me. The first I lost at between 20 and 24 weeks. The doctors couldn't tell because in those days (!) you only visited the doctor if something was really wrong. Being my first I had no idea under what conditions would herald "it is now really wrong". The baby had died and had begun to "mummify", so I was told. It was a harsh reality and "welcome" to the motherhood. At no time was a burial option given - we are only talking 1989. That baby was removed via an emergency D&C after 2 weeks of ambulance rides to hospital, stays overnight in hysterectomy wards, massive blood loss, and "it will be just fine dear" - you and I can only imagine what trauma that baby's body went through. I know now, but at the time was shielded from the truth. The next pregnancy was an ectopic in the ovary. As such it was a relatively late ectopic discovery, so whilst I never felt the baby move, it was there long enough for me to feel pregnant (14 weeks) and anticipate a baby. I lost part of an ovary. (I have since felt my babies move at this stage - yet another sad acceptance that had this baby been in my uterus I might have felt them.) My next pregancy resulted in my 15 year old beautiful daughter. All the way through her pregnancy I "threatened to abort" - you can imagine the trauma that this expression had on me, so much so, I was sure that if we made it to a birth, she would no longer be breathing.
Posted by Viv, Tuesday, 3 April 2007 3:48:45 PM
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