Experiencing pregnancy or infant loss can change your perspective on everyday questions. At the dentist's office today, the hygienist set up for an x-ray and asked if there was any chance I could be pregnant. I just said no. But I wanted to tell her all about that entire part of my life. I wanted to explain about my first miscarriage ten years ago. I wanted to tell her that four more followed. I wanted to tell her about finally getting pregnant, having a baby and having her die of severe congenital heart defects. I wanted to tell her about getting my tubes tied and regretting it. Still, I just said no.
Granted, I had my mouth full of dental accoutrements so even if I'd thought she'd wanted to hear it all, it wouldn't have been do-able. I know I'm not alone in my wanting to share (or over share). It's not precisely that we're looking for sympathy, although that seldom goes unappreciated. For me, and perhaps many women, it's more like the enormity of the loss is too big to contain within myself. I feel like sharing my experience perhaps diffuses it a bit, at least in the short term.
My OB-GYN has a standard form that all patients fill out prior to an annual appointment. It doesn't matter if you've been there before. You still fill out the form. It asks “how many times have you been pregnant?” Then it asks “how many living children do you have?” I think this is the worst series of questions ever. Couldn't they just ask if you've had a miscarriage? It's like they want to know but they also want to sidestep asking directly for fear of scaring you. I want to rail against these questions and complain to some anonymous form writer somewhere. And again, I want to talk about my experiences. I don't want my losses to just be a one word answer on a form. I want to acknowledge them. Part of me wants other people to acknowledge them too.
So, what are you to do if basic questions (and forms) and up making you crazy? First of all, you do need to use some discretion. Clearly, not everyone needs to know the details of your losses. However, that doesn't mean you can't talk about it. Even if you feel you've moved past your loss, consider helping someone who hasn't. Check out online support group and reach out to someone who's experienced a miscarriage. Consider reaching out in person too if you know someone who's experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Send a card or just say you understand. Even if you don't know the person very well, it's likely your gesture will be appreciated.
You can also wear a piece of miscarriage jewelry, an awareness-themed t-shirt or get a pregnancy and infant loss bumper sticker. You just might be able to encourage people to ask questions or open a discussion.
Remember, miscarriage isn't even on most people's radar. If a question or form seems upsetting or insensitive, it's not likely by design.