Singer Lily Allen has recently tweeted about how she wrote a song called ‘Something Wasn’t Right’ for the ‘Pan’ movie soundtrack, in memory of her beloved baby son.
She lost her little boy when he was born too soon at 6 months.
I read about her tweets on Digital Spy, the sort of celeb, showbiz tattle site that sometimes has something interesting on to read whilst you have a lunch break.
They kept describing the loss of Lily’s son as a ‘miscarriage’. That has the same logic as saying YOU were a miscarriage when you were born… because you were born.
In the UK, a baby reaches viability at 24 weeks – that means they have a small chance of survival and are legally recognised as human beings (they are entitled to a birth certificate or stillbirth certificate). Whereas, of course, any mother will tell you their baby is a human being from the moment they get a positive pregnancy test.
Even if we just go off legal language, a 6 month pregnancy and even thereabouts, is not a ‘miscarriage’ but a premature birth.
For me, the connotations of the word ‘miscarriage’ are very bright and clear.
I have had two miscarriages at 10 weeks myself, so I understand the concept of when, for me, my body gives birth and miscarries.
The gruesome reality is this: at whatever stage you lose a baby at, you have to give birth. Your body will give you labour pains, regardless of the stage.
When I was 19, I was at home in my fiancé’s house, alone, whilst he was at work.
I remember getting pain in my abdomen, the likes of which I hadn’t encountered before. I suffered from hereditary primary dysmenorrhoea since 13, so horrible agony was something I had endured before.
This was something else. My body, despite being 10 weeks pregnant (which I didn’t even know at the time), was losing the baby and in the process of putting me through labour in order to facilitate the birth, regardless of stage.
At least, that was my interpretation.
I was on my hands and knees, crawling round the house, huddling up in the bathroom because I had no idea what to do with myself. I get kept phoning my fiancé at work and crying down the phone, not sure what was wrong. I had no money to get to the Doctors, the hospital was too far to walk to, I had no family I could really ask and he wouldn’t let me ask his for help. I thought I was going to die at that point.
In the end, his house mate lent me a fiver so I could go to the doctors, who just sent me straight to hospital, which I got there by having to ask a drunk relative to take me (she got a sober friend to drive).
The experience was different in terms of circumstances the second time I miscarried. I was in my 20’s, happily married and knew I was pregnant. In fact, I knew I was about to miscarry due to tests and scans that came. The birth was unpleasant, frightening and harrowing for all concerned. I wasn’t alone like I had been before or felt so unloved and trapped – this time, I had my husband’s reassuring hands and arms and love.
Either way, I had to give birth and that was at 10 weeks each. I also see that as a miscarriage.
So when I gave birth to identical twins at 24 weeks and 5 days, there was no question as to whether they were miscarried or born. They were not just born, but delivered by a massive team of specialist doctors and nurses.
For me, a miscarriage is a loss up to 12 weeks. After that? It is a birth. An early, prem birth, but still a birth. As an eloquent friend of mine said recently to convey anger: it makes my piss glitter.
No, Lily Allen and all other Mum’s who gave birth exceedingly early, regardless of the outcome, did not have a ‘miscarriage’.
This is my own personal take on it, however, that word made me cross. It is like a way of invalidating that babies humanity. Oh, you weren’t really a baby – a person – so you were ctrl + alt + del.
No baby asks to be conceived, or anything else other than to be cared for and loved and kept safe. So it is sort of sad that a bereaved parent has to ask for consideration when talking about those that are now angels.
If you want to know more about stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss, please, please, please get yourself over to SANDS – the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. A wonderful charity that has helped me and continues to do amazing work with professionals, research and of course, we the bereaved.
For all our babies, so deeply loved, so briefly known.