Friday, May 22, 2009

Recent thoughts on 'neo.natal loss'

Having become a regular reader of IF blogs, it is interesting to me to see the difference in how people feel about various losses. (Yikes. The way I wrote that sounds cold... but I'm not sure how else to explain it...)

I'm not trying to open the proverbial 'can of worms'... it's just something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I'll preface this by saying I have been lucky not to have had to experience a loss, such as a "chemical pregnancy", a miscarriage, or a stillbirth. I do have IRL friends who have (including one at around 22 weeks and one at full term), not to mention the blogger contacts who have suffered these losses.

The part that has me thinking is how different people react, and that feeling of "What would I do?" Needless to say, when it does happen, it doesn't matter what you THINK or what others think or what your religion feels- you feel how you feel and that is always going to be valid.

Until I started reading IF blogs, I didn't view a chemical pregnancy on the same level as a miscarriage. I now realize that to many women, it is exactly that. I don't know if I would feel the same way in the same situation. I also wonder how the stage of pregnancy effects a loss. I have had one commenter (who's comment I can't find now) who, sadly, has lost a pregnancy in the 1st trimester and then lost a pregnancy later (I can't remember if it was T2 or T3), and she expressed that for her it was a painful loss regardless of when it was.

Like I said, I can't know how I'd feel because I haven't had the experience myself. I do know how I feel when these things happen to other people. I know that the later in the pregnancy the loss, the sadder I am for the person. Maybe some would see that as wrong, or insensitive to those who have experienced the earlier losses, but, like I said above, that's just how I feel.

I wonder how much of it has to do with religious teachings. I tried to do a little research online. It was difficult to find information about prenatal losses that was not connected to abor.tion.

Wiki.pedia (which I recognize isn't always accurate) had the following info (these are, for the most part, direct quotes from the wiki):
  • many Buddhists believe that life begins at conception
  • Bahá'í Faith indicate that the human soul appears at conception
  • Roman Catholic Church believes that life begins at conception
  • Some Hindu theologians believe personhood begins at 3 months and develops through to 5 months of gestation
  • Although there are different opinions among Islamic scholars about when life begins and when abor.tion is permissible, most agree that the termination of a pregnancy after four months - the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul - is not permissible.
I didn't feel the wiki was clear about what Judaism believes, but I remembered what I was taught- that the head and shoulders must emerge before a baby is considered "alive". (Although, that doesn't explain what happens with a breech birth...) I also remember my parents expressing surprise when a Jewish family they knew named and had a funeral and sat shiva for their stillborn baby- not as a judgment, but just because that is not what is traditionally done. In fact, a Jewish baby isn't technically named until it is eight days old (for a boy, this is when the bris is done).

I found this site that explained:
The traditional Jewish belief, also based on the Bible, is that full personhood is attained when the fetus is half-emerged from the mother's body. The fetus has great value because it is potentially a human life. It gains "full human status at birth only."
I also found information on several sites, including this one, that traditionally in Orthodox Judaism mourning rituals are not observed for a baby who is less than 30 days old."We do not mourn for fetuses (nefalim), and anything which does not live for 30 days, we do not mourn for it." Maim.onides, Mish.neh Torah, Avei.lut 1:6

(That site also goes on to explain that in modern days, this is not really practiced. "Today the opposite is true. The tremendous sense of loss and the overwhelming need to grieve felt by the parents of an infant who dies before the thirty-day benchmark does not go away just because the halakhah prevents the mourning rituals from taking place. The medical profession has now recognized that parents experiencing a baby's death must face the loss, and protocols to enable them to mourn have been developed within recent years.")

My views on abor.tion have partially been formed by the Jewish law, even though I am no longer really practicing. Or maybe my views on abor.tion have been validated by that law. Either way, that information and knowledge has come into play differently now that I am trying to have a baby, and spending so much time talking to and reading about others who have the same goal.


michelle said...

Your post is amazing thank you for sharing. When I found out I could not have kids after only 3 months of trying it was a definitive YOU CANNOT HAVE KIDS. I was told (and they were accurate) fertility treatments won't help I would not meet the medical requirements for egg donation.

I remember sitting on the steps outside my office when I got the news. I was stunned at how it felt as if the whole world around me changed in that instance. On the basis of that one phone call I was different. In fact I was physically the exact same but now that I knew this new thing about myself I felt different and I perceived everything differently. I have been told by some who have gotten pregnant and miscarried that miscarrying is worse because you HAD a baby and lost it.

I think it's all hard. It's all loss at some level and I think we each need to grieve in our own way. I think we are all just trying to figure it out as we go and I am glad for blogs like your's that share thoughts and opinions without judging.

p.s. It has been a year since I received that call and I am still getting teary-eyed as I type this out.

Anonymous said...

I hope that your first IVF works and you never have to find out.

Anonymous said...

I think I may have been the commenter you referred to - sorry I have not commented again for so long. With IVF#2 I had an m/c at 6w and with #5 a loss at 20w. Sucess came with #6.

For me, the 7w loss was very tough, but at least I knew then that I could get PG, which had never happened before. But both losses were compounded many times over by the knowledge that it had taken me so long to get that far - especially with the 20w loss, it seemed too much too bear that this could happen after having to deal with IF for several years. You think that surely this time, the universe will allow your body to do its job.

I am wishing you all the best with IVF and beyond . . . a successful cycle with a healthy, full-term pregnancy.