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Baby Loss and the Pain Olympics

Taking time away from making a tortilla espanola for the seder tonight to respond to Samantha Schoech’s post on Babycenter about equating miscarriage with baby death.  Mostly because I need to take it out of my head in order to cook.

She’s entitled to her opinion; thought it is just that: her opinion.  Just because she doesn’t believe in looking at miscarriage as the loss of a baby doesn’t mean that others can’t.  The simple solution — the one I choose to take — is to not read her posts anymore.  And frankly, to not visit Babycenter so I don’t have to encounter her posts.  It’s a big Internet.  If Schoech chooses to write that, she can and if Babycenter chooses to publish that, they can.  But I also have a choice here: not to support the site and not to read her work.

By which I mean that when I get a sense that someone is writing something inflammatory solely for page views and not to release something important from their mind, I tend to be turned off and stop reading.  I personally dislike having my feelings fomented for no other reason than to increase page views.  And my foment-o-meter which measures things that are written only to upset people is on red with this post: I believe that Schoech believes this, but I believe that Babycenter latched onto it because they want page views:

Not because they want an actual conversation.

I base this on the judgmental nature of the language used in the post.  Schoech writes in the comment section: “I care very, very deeply about language. It matters. I influences everything form emotions to politics to… everything.”

Language matters, which is why she used phraseology such as:

  • “A familiar pet peeve. If one more person calls a miscarriage the “death of a baby” I’m going to lose it.”
  • “I have living children now and I can say that losing one of them would make my three miscarriages look like mosquito bites in comparison.”
  • “The attitude that equates miscarriage with the death of a child bothers me because it is hyperbole and hyperbole bugs me.”
  • “It bothers me because it’s what my grandmother would have called ‘ghoulish,’ that weird delight we all take in recounting stories of horrible misfortune.”

And then, of course, she goes on to misappropriate the term “nazi” a few times for effect.  Even though hyperbole bugs her.

My reaction to her post comes solely from this thought:

You know those conversations you sometimes get into where it just becomes one person after another upping the ante on untimely deaths, awful illnesses, and hideous accidents?

Well, this “death of a baby” thing strikes me as the same thing. It’s reveling in its own melodrama.

This post does exactly what she finds repulsive, reflecting what she despises and in doing so, creates her own melodrama.  Instead of trying to top each other in the Pain Olympics by having the worst story possible, this post aims to negate the emotional pain of miscarriage by dismissing it — pointing out all the ways it’s not-as-bad-as.  It’s a mosquito bite, after all.  It’s ghoulish.

I do despise the Pain Olympics because comparative pain is only hurtful.  It’s using your hurt to hurt another person.  It’s called the Pain Olympics because there are winners and losers.  There can’t be two people on that gold platform.  Though the problem with the Pain Olympics is that there is always another person who can knock you off that podium.  Who has it worse.  Who can negate your pain if you want to enter into a contest with the world.

I much prefer the Pain Campfire, where we’re all gathered around in a circle sharing support for each other’s stories with the understanding that we’re not there to shoot each other down but rather to collectively lift each other up.  It may be my kumbaya-ness coming through.

I think we can all agree that there are varying degrees of pain, though I believe the degrees of pain are processed in such a personal way that we can never truly define what is “just as bad.”  This morning I got my period and without even taking a pain killer, I went to a 75 minutes flow yoga class and sweated my ass off.  And THEN I went home and took the Alleve.  Because that’s where my pain was — for me.  My friend gets her period and she cannot walk around the house doing common tasks.  She needs to take the Alleve immediately.  It doesn’t mean that my pain is less and her pain is more.  It means that we both have pain and we both process it differently.  One way is not better or more natural than the other.  I’m not a goddess because I can do yoga through the pain and she is not a wimp because she can’t move.

We are two separate people with two separate pain thresholds who have two separate pains.  We are not two people who share a pain threshold who are experiencing one pain.  Do you see the difference?

I find the Pain Olympics so disheartening because it is about negating the worth of another person’s pain by telling them that you’re going to put their pain (you know, the one you don’t know about because you are not them) in perspective.  It’s about telling them to shut-up; and in doing so, the speaker feels better.  And this is how I saw Schoech’s post.  She isn’t starting a conversation: she’s telling people to shut-up.  And perhaps it makes her feel better; maybe it’s a preemptive band-aid that she is placing over her fear of (G-d forbid) ever losing a child.  Maybe she needs to do this for her own emotional well-being because she is so terrified of losing someone now that they are born and this makes her feel better.  But that doesn’t excuse the fact that her point is to make other people upset or uncomfortable in order to relieve her own emotional discomfort.

I really have to question why seeing someone else processing their emotions is her pet peeve.

Do I believe a miscarriage and neonatal death is the same thing — of course not.  If they were the same thing, they would share the same term.  But just because I see them as apples and oranges doesn’t mean that I don’t also see them as fruit.  They are both loss.  Letting someone experience their emotional pain over a miscarriage doesn’t take away from another person experiencing their emotional pain over a stillbirth which doesn’t take away from someone else experiencing their emotional pain over a neonatal death.  Because what is the trump card — the worst loss that wins you the gold medal?  At what point does the hill start curving downward and we say, “feh, it isn’t as bad” again?  Is the death of a one-year-old worse than the death of a baby?  Does preschooler trump infant?  Does elementary schooler trump preschooler?  Do you see the insanity in this?  Why should someone try to determine the worst pain?  Why do we bother giving attention to someone who is shouting “your pain isn’t bad; this pain is bad”?

I am totally willing to concede that there is a pain continuum in this world, though I believe it is only rankable by the person themselves.  In my world, menstrual pain is somewhere near a 3, hitting my head on something is near a 7, child birth is near a 7, and an HSG is a 10.  In your world, menstrual pain may be an 8, child birth may be a 10, sex may be a 9.  So yes, there is a pain continuum, but it is personal, unique to each experiencer.  And I cannot tell you the order of your pain just as you cannot tell me the order of my pain: whether that be emotional or physical.

Those are my two cents.

And now I can go back to chopping potatoes.


1 a { 04.06.12 at 2:45 pm }

Well, I read that, and all I can come up with is “what a jackass.” There’s a lot more I could say, but then I’m just entering the fray. I’d rather be chopping potatoes.

(But I agree with you – pain is personal. End of story. I may get impatient with your pain, but that’s on me, not you.)

2 Erica { 04.06.12 at 3:05 pm }

I have very strong feelings about this – I only had a few hours with my son. He was heavily medicated and I never got to see him open his eyes. The time I spent holding him is some of the most precious I’ll ever have, and I like to think I knew something of his personality, but did I really? Using her criteria, does my son’s neonatal death really count that much? I feel like I’m one of the audience she appears to be thinking she’s validating, but her post makes me feel the opposite of validated.

And she misses, perhaps because she doesn’t think that deeply about it, one of the biggest aspects of the loss of a child, which is all of the lost potential – the milk he never got to drink that ran down the shower drain, the tiny baseball cap he never got to wear, all of those “firsts” we never got to see, the games of catch he never got to play with his father, the laughter and cries we never got to hear, the nicknames he never got to claim, the friends he never got to have – all of those lost chances for us to learn who he was and to get to know him, that’s a hurt that is really hard to describe, and one that isn’t unique to parents who’ve been lucky enough to hold their living child before s/he dies.

I think about this and I think about your post on being counted, and it seems to me they’re hugely linked. There are many different kinds of grief, and so many different ways to experience even similar kinds of grief. What I find hurtful about that post is that she is very clearly saying that some losses don’t count as much as others do, that some of us don’t have the rights to our feelings and experiences. Grief is isolating enough without someone telling you that yours isn’t that bad, really.

3 Jody { 04.06.12 at 3:39 pm }

Well put. Loss is loss and grief is grief. Certainly there are varying degrees but how can it be ok to judge someone, anyone, who is grieving a loss. If we could all support each other a little more maybe we wouldn’t feel such a need to put on a happy face and hide away our losses and sorrows. Maybe we wouldn’t feel like a burden when we seek the comfort of a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. There is a reason why a room goes silent when a woman who is grieving walks in and attitudes like Samantha Schoech’s are part of that reason. Thank you for this post.

4 Misfit Mrs. { 04.06.12 at 3:39 pm }

I won’t even think of reading that article, but I agree 100% with you when I see a post meant to open wounds and fire people up intentionally. Man, is it ever so easy to think that someone is overreacting or under-reacting to a situation. And the Pain Campfire is exactly the place to be to let people just feel their pain without having do be judgy about it. Empathy means that I can imagine what this is like for you even if I never have to go through it yourself.

I also take a step back when I see a type of person who naturally wants to one up you anyway. “If you think your day was bad, get a load of this…” kind of thing. Loss is never a singular event, it’s compounded like interest and by its very nature a vacuum. It’s hard to measure what isn’t there, wasn’t there, or was there and is now missing. Regardless of the cause, we hurt. We all hurt and have been robbed of a future that seemed a universal right, and that’s enough for me.

5 Becky { 04.06.12 at 3:54 pm }

Pain is pain. Ther is no “more” or “worse” in talking about pain. It’s all pain. Now, can I rate my own pain? Yes, but not against yours. Only against my own. And that kind of article is exactly why I don’t read BabyCenter.

6 Shadow of My Former Self { 04.06.12 at 4:48 pm }

I read the article and did a quick view of some of the comments. The author sounds like someone without depth of heart or breadth of compassion. I also do not understand the reason for the article. Did she wake up one day, totally fed up with friends (should she have any left at this point) sharing their miscarriage experience with her and become totally fed up with having to explain to them that their loss was not REAL? She makes no real points in her article but only writes to validate her own smugness.

Reading some of the commentors’ notes I was not surprised at all. We all wonder just how in the world people continue to make insensitive and sometimes cruel comments about IF. These people are out there, just take a look at the words from those who agree with her.

My last comment is to the author’s statement about how she “cares about words”. Really? Her loosely strung together thoughts about her values regarding loss reminds me of a well known politician who can make surface comments about politics and world affairs yet cannot find certain countries on the map. The author’s words are just that, words. I find no intelligence or humanity behind them.

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.06.12 at 4:57 pm }

Lol, HSG IS a 10!

Excellent thoughts on this, especially “But just because I see them as apples and oranges doesn’t mean that I don’t also see them as fruit. They are both loss. ”

Foment of the moment, indeed.

8 Jo { 04.06.12 at 5:20 pm }

I agree — the sole point of this article was to inflame people. Which is why I refrained from commenting on it — because she doesn’t deserve the ten seconds of my time it would take to type out a response. Her sole intent (or my impression of it, anyway) was to tick people off and rack up the comments. And babycenter should be ashamed of publishing that article. I avoid the site like the plague anyway, but will definitely avoid it now. In my experience as an infertile I always felt out of place there — but now I see that compassion for my situation is drastically lacking over there.

9 It Is What It Is { 04.06.12 at 5:55 pm }

Once again, you saw through the BS and struck right to the core of why her post (and ESPECIALLY on a site called BabyCenter) riled me. I wasn’t even so sure why it did (I mean, that premise of her post, comparing miscarriage to death of a child, is its own fallacy, but it was intentionally salacious in order to stir a pot that didn’t need stirring).

I am sorry for interrupting your seder prep. I knew that no one else would be able to cull the feelings of many into a single, thoughtful, compassionate post in the way that you could and I thank you for that. Not because you said it better than I but by you saying it so many who were or will be hurt will find solace.

Oprah has said “all pain is the same” and I remember vehemently disagreeing (having suffered the loss of my 15 year old brother, having been in a body cast myself, having lost beloved friends to cancer or accident, having miscarriages, having struggle for 8 years with IF) but both she and you are on to something in that no matter what the trigger, human grief, mourning, and pain processing is similar. As you said, apples and oranges maybe in what the pain trigger is, but fruit nonetheless. That was an aha moment for me in reading this.

And, one more for the memory banks is ‘pain campfire’. I SO get and appreciate this.

10 Kathy { 04.06.12 at 7:04 pm }

Thank you for sharing this and to IIWIS for apparently encouraging you to do so. xoxo

I haven’t read the article, though I am aware of it’s existence. So far I’ve avoided it, as I know it would likely just frustrate me.

I love the idea of a Pain Campfire vs. Olys. What a wonderful way of thinking about people coming together to help each other through their pain instead of comparing how their experiences are somehow harder or worse than each others.

I also really appreciate your perspective on this:

” I am totally willing to concede that there is a pain continuum in this world, though I believe it is only rankable by the person themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more.

On the night when my Christian brothers and sisters and I are remembering Jesus’s death on the cross, I find this post especially timely.

I often think about how I believe God allowed his son to be crucified and die, when I am struggling with my own pain and suffering as a bereaved parent.

11 V { 04.06.12 at 7:25 pm }

All I can say is that the issue is hers, it’s not the other women’s problem. As if women dealing with losses need someone to invalidate their feelings. All I could think of was, what a bitch, but I kept that to myself.

12 loribeth { 04.06.12 at 7:39 pm }

I like your concept of the pain continuum, and how it’s different for each of us. I know there are many people who don’t equate a miscarriage on the same level as, say, a stillbirth or neonatal loss. In 10 years of facilitating a pregnancy loss support group, we had people attending who were absolutely devastated by a miscarriage, and others who were intensely grieving their stillborn child, but only mentioned their two previous miscarriages in passing. At each meeting, we emphasized that we considered every loss significant, regardless of gestation or circumstances, and asked those present to respect the feelings of others.

But it does seems to me that this woman is being deliberately provocative (even inflammatory). She acknowledges that her own three miscarriages were painful events, even though she does not feel that she lost an actual baby. Can’t she just accept that some people who are also hurting badly may feel differently, and leave it at that?

13 jjiraffe { 04.06.12 at 8:06 pm }

I avoid Babycenter in general, because I feel so many of their articles are written just to make me afraid. Like, here’s the top 5 deathly traps your child COULD fall into. Babycenter kind of reminds me of the local news: Scary story at 11! Meanwhile, here’s a bunch of commercials for stuff to buy to make yourself better.

This article sounds similar to the MacLean’s piece a few weeks ago. Traffic bait, indeed. I will continue to go along merrily pretending Babycenter doesn’t exist.

Happy Passover!

14 Emmy { 04.06.12 at 8:16 pm }

Thanks for so eloquently saying what I was thinking.

For me, pain is on more of a plane than a continuum– like the x y graphs from algebra. I’ve felt different emotional pains differently, even if the level of pain was the same. My dad and my younger brother both had unexpected, untimely deaths. While both were a 10 on the emotional pain scale, the pain was different.

I really like the pain campfire concept. I often don’t share my stories after someone shares theirs, because I don’t want to be the one-upper.

15 Chickenpig { 04.06.12 at 8:53 pm }

I heartily concur!

I don’t need this woman to minimize my pain, I do it to myself. For both of my miscarriages I have said these same things to myself “It wasn’t that big a deal. It wasn’t a baby. It’s not like you felt it move…or knew the sex…or had started planning a nursery. Stop being such a wuss.”* But after reading your post, I’m going to stop saying those things to myself RIGHT NOW. It’s still fruit…and it’s my rotten fruit. *(I say these things to myself, but I would never, ever think these things about someone else, really f*cked up, eh?)

Enjoy your holiday!!! I never quite know what to say about Passover…does one say “Happy Passover”? Whatever is the right thing to say…consider it said 🙂

16 Cristy { 04.06.12 at 9:33 pm }

I saw this post on Babycenter and was angered in a way I haven’t been in a while. Frankly, I’m appalled that they would even allow such an article to be published. A loss is a loss and each person will process it differently. The point is, everyone needs the opportunity to grieve so they can move forward.

Frankly, I think you’re post was much better (better grammar too). As always, holistic without passing judgement. I’ve I was an editor for Babycenter, I would retract Samantha’s article and publish this post.

Wish you and your family peace and happiness during Passover.

17 Justine { 04.06.12 at 10:17 pm }

I’ve never liked Babycenter much. It always felt like a place full of crowd-sourced hyperbole to me, with ads. Now I have even more reason to avoid it. Isn’t it supposed to be a place of *support*?

I’ve had a post about competitiveness knocking around for a while, and I think you may have just helped me to write it.

Interesting, though … sometimes I find myself on the other side of the Pain Olympics, telling myself that whatever I’m experiencing isn’t as bad as so-and-so had to go through. And while it’s useful to count one’s blessings, I think it’s also true to be honest with our hearts and gentle with ourselves. I’m a big believer in “feel what you’re feeling,” and in allowing people to be wherever they are, abiding with them there. Because we’re all individuals in everything, and grief is no exception.

Thanks for writing this.

And: Chag Sameach! I love the fact that you’re making Spanish tapas. 🙂

18 Lori { 04.06.12 at 10:38 pm }

Exactly why I avoid BBC and several other places where inflammatory articles just regale people with ridiculousness. As you said, she did all she accused others of doing, which is point in case as to why she couldn’t really be taken seriously. It is a free country. Sheis entitled to her opinion. But it was totally irresponsible and negligent on BBC’s part to publish. Ask if I’m surprised?

19 A.M.S { 04.06.12 at 10:45 pm }

Wow am I glad I didn’t see that post. I’m pretty sure it would piss me off to the point I’d feel the need to do more Zumba and I’m already wiped out. I don’t appreciate anyone telling me where any of my losses, whenever they occurred on the pregnancy timeline fall on my pain continuum. I was there. I already know.

Meh. Enough wasting emotional energy on this. Negative attention is still attention and she doesn’t deserve any more of mine.

On a far happier note, and I hope you don’t mind my doing it here, but a HUGE congratulations for sticking with your exercise/diet realignment program for a whopping 75 days!!! 🙂 I hope you know, on the days when I don’t feel like messing with it, I tell myself that Mel will know if I don’t and I can’t disappoint Mel. You are my personal mental shoulder-sitting training cheerleader-slash-coach-slash-whip-cracker.

20 Amy { 04.06.12 at 11:22 pm }

You are such a voice of peace and sanity in my world. When I read this article, my first instinct was to go off. Instead, a waited and later read yours.

In my life I’ve tended to avoid sharing anything because I didn’t want to play “my life is worse than yours.”. Once again you’ve given me a perspective to remember I can share in a space of mutual respect and compassion, not trumping and discord, if I’m careful about where I spend my time.

21 Mali { 04.07.12 at 12:27 am }

As you know, I blogged about the Pain Olympics last week http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/pain-olympics.html. And said essentially the same as you – that perspective was important, but only I can put my pain into perspective. I can do it in terms of my own pain (ie this is worse than that), and (although I would never openly judge others’ reactions to their pain, because I can’t feel their pain) it helps me to put my pain into perspective when I see others’ pain. Not to belittle their pain, but to help me understand when my cup is half full, not empty.

Yesterday we heard that a friend has invasive melanoma. It does not look good for her. If she has a year, she will probably be lucky. In that moment, my trigeminal neuralgia, and my infertility, fade in comparison. And I think that that is healthy. It allows me to enjoy my life to the fullest now, rather than focusing on what I will never have. It doesn’t mean my pain isn’t legitimate. It is. But the perspective is helpful to me, and healthy.

PS. I read the article. And was glad I never visit that site.

22 Renovation Girl { 04.07.12 at 1:13 am }

Okay, so I haven’t read the article and will not be doing so based on your summary of it. Yikes! I have a saying that life is not comparative…the whole concept of only you know how bad/good/indifferent things are for you. I can go on a couple of hours of sleep while friends are useless on less than 10hours-we’re different creatures. As someone who just found out that she lost her fifth pregnancy in a row (and 40 is looming-ugh!), I’d have to question if the author of that article factored in the fact that often, miscarriages are dealt with in silence and therefore, with little acknowledgement or support. Certainly, if a baby died, people would notice and react and support you, but with a miscarriage, oftentimes, people don’t even know you were pregnant.

23 Kristin { 04.07.12 at 2:22 am }

Standing up and applauding your post because it says everything I think and feel about the f*cking pain olympics.

24 Helene { 04.07.12 at 4:56 am }

I agree with you. No matter what you’re going through, there is little consolation in that it could have been worse. At the end of the day it all comes down to being human and, show those who need it a bit of compassion…

25 Mina { 04.07.12 at 7:49 am }

I have given up on a lot of sites precisely because of this tendency of publishing stuff just for the sake of getting hits and stirring up shit storms for the pleasure of a large number of comments. I am running out of stuff to read, to be honest.

And pain olympics suck.

26 Detour { 04.07.12 at 7:59 am }

Thank you, Mel. You so eloquently wrote a brillaint response to a horribly insensitive, inflammatory post. I don’t read BabyCenter and now I have a good reason to stay away forevermore.

I love the idea of a Pain Campfire. 🙂

27 Christina { 04.07.12 at 9:11 am }

Ridiculous… That’s all I can say about her article. Like you and others have said, pain is pain, does it matter whose is worse?

Also, I wonder if she thought of her miscarriages as “baby death” when they occurred as opposed to looking back on them post-children? I was devastated by my very early miscarriage, but I’m sure my pain would have been greater if it had happened later on during or after pregnancy. It absolutely is on a continuum and each continuum is it’s own unique, independent thing, just like the person it belongs to.

Happy Passover and enjoy all that yummy food!

28 Leslie { 04.07.12 at 11:15 am }

I’ve suffered both a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy & a neonatal death. In my own experience, my neonatal death (my precious boy, Dexter) was by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. But it doesn’t discount those other losses. I just grieved those differently & I certainly wouldn’t tell other that their losses weren’t as important because my son died in my arms after 11 hours & their babies died before they were born. I support anyone in any type of loss. We are all on the same boat in that. No one is better or worse. It’s all different & relative!

I just know that I will no longer be reading BabyCenter. & encourage my friends to do the same.

29 Tigger { 04.07.12 at 11:44 am }

I read this article. I shouldn’t have, and I knew it, but I did it anyway. She claims to have had a miscarriage, and yet she wrote this anyways. Her like “it’s not the death of a baby, it’s the death of an idea” just sent me through the roof. I ranted to my husband for quite some time – with him trying to be rational, until he realized it was pointless. We found out on Wednesday that a friend of ours is miscarrying at 8 weeks and he says “I don’t suppose we ought to tell her she’s miscarrying an idea, huh?” and I realized he HAD been listening.

This author wrote a response to her article, trying to clarify. It’s not much better. It just looks like she’s trying to backtrack because she was told to. I was tempted to write a post regarding this but I knew it would just be incoherent ranting because I am SO FREAKING ANGRY still. Thank you for writing it instead.

30 gwinne { 04.07.12 at 12:01 pm }

I like the campfire analogy.

31 Leah { 04.07.12 at 1:28 pm }

I think this is a great post. I like the campfire analogy too.

32 M { 04.07.12 at 2:58 pm }

I like this post and I agree and I’m SO happy to see the people in the comments agree as well. I’m guilty of this myself when it came to my infertility “Oh you’re having a rough pregnancy? Well at least you can HAVE a baby!”, “Oh you haven’t slept in 24 + hours? Well, it only took 1 round of clomid for you to have a baby and it took me 2 IVF’s, so shut it.” And don’t get me started on the pure rage I felt towards fertile women. I use to think like that until I realized I was participating in the Pain Olympics myself by thinking this way. Not trying to stir the pot, just a little self realization I wanted to share.

33 Sunny { 04.07.12 at 3:39 pm }

You form your responses so much better than I do. What struck me wasn’t so much her opinion — I completely disagree with the fact that miscarriages aren’t a LOSS OF A BABY, but like you said, we are all entitled to our opinions. But she is so hypocritical and her arguments are illogical… I grew furious the more I read. I closed the post, and I will continue not to go to BabyCenter (I don’t like that site anyway, this didn’t help). Thanks for your intelligent critique.

34 Iris { 04.07.12 at 6:34 pm }

I wholeheartedly agree with your frustration with her characterization of a miscarriage not being the loss of a child. The ability to define and characterize emotional and physical pain is subject to the interpretation of the individual. It is very real and unique to that individual and making comparisons is not useful or fruitful. Anyone who has experienced a miscarriage in my opinion understands the notion of loss, pain, and yes, the death of a child. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

35 Sara { 04.07.12 at 10:52 pm }

Chag Sameach

Your post was perfect. Hers, beneath contempt.

36 Bea { 04.08.12 at 10:37 am }

The pain Olympics argument is familiar – I won’t go over it. (For me, headaches are the worst. You can check my hospital chart from last birth- no pain meds til the day of discharge, when I begged for something for my headache before I could get out of bed.)

But I like the thought about your foment-o-metre and not wanting to be manipulated for page views. I used to get sucked in, now I am only really interested in talking with people who want to listen to each other.


37 Another Dreamer { 04.08.12 at 4:25 pm }

Great post Mel, I like your response to it. I did read her article, and I found it appalling. My sister and I have talked about the differences in our grief before, she lost her first child at full term, I lost my first three to early miscarriages… and we never talked about how ours is worse, we talked about how ours was different. You said it very well in this post, and I think you for that. Apples, oranges, still fruit.

38 Peg { 04.08.12 at 9:19 pm }

Very well said. There is no grief or loss contest. Loss is loss. That author lacks any sense of empathy.

39 Tiara { 04.09.12 at 8:36 am }

Thank you Mel, for writing this. I can’t bring myself to click over to the article you refer to. I know it will upset me too much. Your post is so well said.

I had a conversation recently with my aunt about the death of my father (her brother) & she was trying to explain that the loss was harder for her. I responded that I didn’t realize it was a competition. I intend to share this post with her.

40 k { 04.09.12 at 3:35 pm }

The pain olympics goes both ways. I have a big tendency to minimize my own pain and counter that others’ pain is much worse and I should be grateful. I’ve had two miscarriages, others have had so many. I’m possibly permanently infertile now, but I have two healthy children. I shouldn’t be as devastated as I am.

And what happens is isolating beyond belief. I would never claim my pain is worse than any others. But to my detriment I would claim my pain isn’t nearly as bad and then I suffer in silence.

The pain olympics serves nobody. And anyone who wants to claim their pain is better or bigger than someone else’s isn’t someone I want to devote any energy to. That article is awful, and that woman needs some sensitivity training.

41 Curly Sue { 04.09.12 at 4:40 pm }

I think there is an issue that BabyCenter article failed to address and its still annoying me: She said her miscarriages would feel like mosquito bites compared to losing one of her living children. What about women who struggle for years to conceive and after any number of miscarriages end up with empty arms. There ARE NO living children to “comfort” them over their miscarriages. Its a sick, sick point of view she is extolling. One that only a person sitting on her “privileged” perch could have. Her article is an example of everything that is wrong with modern perceptions of grief and how to handle it.

42 Roccie { 04.11.12 at 2:54 pm }


43 Stinky Weaselteats { 04.12.12 at 6:25 pm }

I clicked over to this post after seeing it on LFCA where someone wanted the author banned.
I didn’t really agree with her other than the use of language is important and while I could see what she meant ‘comparatively’ I still found it extremely dismissive. I love what you suggest with the Pain Campfire, I think a lot of this is about being able to see where someone else is at and meeting them there and supporting that place. I also wonder, and this might be controversial, I don’t know, if people process how they feel about their miscarriages once they have had live children. Not to say they care less, or any polar extreme thing, but just DIFFERENTLY (I’d italicise that but I don’t think its possible in comments section). I feel like part of my grief with recurrent miscarriage is the possibility/likelihood that there might never be a live child, just more miscarriages, and I do wonder if some of that might transform somehow if we do get a live one out? I dunno? I couldn’t say till I got there.
I have also wondered (pre-this article) if I might process later term losses harder than first tri . . . the second mc I had blew my world apart, but I have said recently that I do think I could handle another 1st tri mc or 2 but I’m not sure about later losses – thats probably more due to uncharted territory

Personally my reaction to the author was similar – we all process differently, I don’t agree with her minimising the experiences of others, I never visited BabyCentre before and am less inclined to now.

I’m with you on the pain thresholds too, which could be why some people snap off the hand that offers epidurals and others go for home birth (although there’s likely other factors at play too there!)

44 Leslie { 04.15.12 at 3:46 pm }

Can’t agree with you more..so well said an the paragraph beginning with this
“Do I believe a miscarriage and neonatal death is the same thing — of course not. If they were the same thing, they would share the same term. But just because I see them as apples and oranges doesn’t mean that I don’t also see them as fruit. They are both loss. ”
is brilliant. So well said Mel.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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