When I spoke about miscarriage at the LLL of Missouri conference last weekend, I emphasized the recognition of miscarriage as a birth event:
I think it is crucial to remember that miscarriage is a birth event—sometimes a very, very, very early birth event, but reproductively speaking that is what it is! Since we don’t have a better vocabulary for pregnancy loss in our culture, socioculturally speaking we tend to class it as “something else,” but in most ways it isn’t. A soul (or fertilized egg) touches down in a woman’s womb. Her hormones and all other physiological systems are impacted and feel its presence. The embryo/fetus/baby stays for a time and when it leaves her body, the uterus must contract and the cervix must open and the woman’s body must open to allow its passage. Her body, mind, emotions, and spirit are all affected (to varying degrees). In this way, miscarriage and full-term birth simply exist on a continuum of possible birth outcomes and are all birth events whether the pregnancy lasts five weeks or forty-two weeks.
Following my own miscarriage experiences, I read like crazy, wanting to discover answers, hear experiences, and process pain. One of the books that helped me the most was the unexpected treasure, Wild Feminine, by Tami Lynn Kent. This book is really about pelvic health in general and what I appreciated most was that acknowledgment of miscarriage and the author’s own miscarriage experience was woven throughout the book, not relegated for some “bad outcomes” section. Also, miscarriage was acknowledged as a transformative and powerful experience, rather than solely in relationship to grief.
I re-read several passages from the book several times and I would like to share them here:
Some of a woman’s most profound transformations involve the changes in her womb: menarche, pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and menopause. Every womb desires to give birth by receiving and gestating a particular energy; yet the way a woman specifically utilizes her creative energy is a matter of personal intention. One woman may use the energetic capacity for creation in her work as an artist or other creative endeavor. Another woman relies on her creative energy to nurture her children or reinvent her mothering. A spiritual teacher may receive a divine energy, gestating rituals for celebrating the sacred. A healer uses her intuitive capacity to aid others in physical, energetic, and emotional transformation.
See how miscarriage is just included? “Normal,” almost, rather than defective or secret or needing to be fixed or hidden or forgotten.
And, acknowledging miscarriage as a birth event:
Miscarriage is not, as I had always imagined, like an unexpected menstrual period. On the day of my miscarriage, I awoke from a dream that I was bleeding, but my sense of dread did not dissipate upon awakening. The red of my blood confirmed what my body already knew; miscarriage is birth and death simultaneously. Miscarriage is ecstatic connection and unquenchable loss. The uterus dilates and contracts, as in the process of birth. In its wake follows something ancient, something from the hearts and lives of the grandmothers and women who have walked before, pouring forth from the uterus…
The event of a soul passing on within her body touches each woman in a different way. Yet it also links her to a broader community of women who share in the transformative effects of such experiences. When a spirit touches down in a woman’s womb and leaves from this place as well, a woman experiences the entry and exit of a soul within her body. When a whole life is contained within the womb without coming to term, a powerful invitation is given to the mother—to connect with the spiritual realm in the core of her body, to sit with her feelings and come to know the spirit of her child. But no matter how long a woman carries a baby, this life asks to be acknowledged and remembered, witnessed and loved. The energy that comes in with each life still must be moved. Without the natural movement of energy that occurs with a typical birth, a woman may have to be more conscious about working with the energy in her core. But if she receives the energy of this soul into her womb and then gives it an expression in her outer life, then she also receives a powerful blessing.
My own pregnancy loss by miscarriage was a profound event in my body and my life. The spirit who came to be with me brought tremendous healing and creative energy to my womb that continues to inspire me today. If you have experienced a womb loss, you can still celebrate this soul’s life. For example, you can plant a tree to acknowledge what you experienced or learned as a witness. Ask your body how else you might remember the essence of this spirit.
Enhanced receptivity is also normal after a miscarriage, and in my own life felt like a sacred time—when I received many blessings and lessons into my life.
On my original miscarriage blog, I described this feeling an openness to change and I’ve written several times before about my miscarriage as a pivotal life event and a “religious experience” of a sort:
My first loss was, in fact, a new beginning for me in many ways. That miscarriage-birth changed my life forever. It changed my worldview, it changed how I work with women, it changed my understanding of the world, it prompted a spiritual awakening, it changed the trajectory of my work and my focus, and it broadened and deepened the scope of what I’d like to offer in service to others. It was BIG. It was important. It was hard, it was scary, it was emotionally and physically painful, and it lasted a long, long time…