March 8 and the taboo of spontaneous abortion

by Claudia Ravaldi

Miscarriage is an extremely common occurrence in women of childbearing age but it is something that is not easily talked about. Or rather, it’s something you don’t want to hear.

Spontaneous abortion is an event that happens at least once in a life to 1 in 4 women, but it can also happen two, three, four times, to the same woman. In some cases it is possible to identify specific causes, in most cases not. We talked about it here . On this issue, medicine is still unable to provide all the answers, we simply know that it can happen. It is also known that a miscarriage does not affect the success of a subsequent pregnancy. So in the end, for many it remains a non-problem ( you will have another one! ). There is a double message: on the one hand, one in four women has a miscarriage in their life, so better not get too excited and don’t get attached to the pregnancy you never know. On the other hand, it’s not a problem, it’s normal. In short, abortion becomes a kind of rite of passage. Sort of a price to pay, to see how strong you are. Suffering in silence. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers and who knows where we are going back, knew it so well that one in four pays the price of a miscarriage: over time many women, often from childhood, have been educated never to announce pregnancy in the first quarter, to wait good and quiet. Because if it doesn’t go on, you feel bad, it is explained, often with big, hasty smiles. And why, if I just keep it to myself and it doesn’t go on, do I feel good?

In short, we know it so well, that it can happen, we have learned it so well, to keep quiet not because we do not want to say, but because it is inconvenient and you never know, that the miscarriage has become a non-news: one thing common, normal, routine, so obvious that it doesn’t arouse or deserve attention. As it is as it is not, like almost everything related to a woman’s life, even miscarriage has become a private event. Something that happens to us, but cannot be said (or just a little, or just by paying a therapist). Something that happens to us, but for which we should not expect support in our society and from our mothers or grandmothers, who have often learned the hard way that the answer to abortion is silence and a pat on the back and they too, first survivors of the silence around perinatal mourning, they lost their words. They have not received any, they have none to give. Let’s think about how much pain you go through in these silent scenes.

Abortion is not told because it is normal. It happens to many. In this general atmosphere of trivialization, silencing and patronizing encouragement not to do this and try again soon , women are forced to carry on their own the weight of the experience, traumatic, of the loss, of the experience, traumatic, of profuse bleeding or curettage, that of the changes in hormones that were previously needed and now no longer and resuming a physiological rhythm is not a joke, the traumatic experience not to have a socially shared linguistic code to talk about this experience as well as many other mournful experiences, managing to find support out there. One trauma after another, which we cannot say, because otherwise it means that you are weaker than our grandmothers (these mythical figures, reduced to propaganda as a portrait of the veredonnes of once upon a time).

It is impossible to talk about spontaneous abortion, almost never and almost anywhere (except to pull out the hardcover of the “elderly” woman who is looking for a pregnancy when it is too late because she has forgotten the biological clock somewhere, distracted!) .

It is impossible to talk about the traumatic effects of spontaneous abortion, almost never and almost anywhere (except to say that our grandmothers were stronger and kept everything inside, with a smile on their lips, or to say that if we keep thinking about it too much we risk not getting pregnant anymore).

Talking openly about how much it costs emotionally to want a child and not knowing if you will have one, is almost never possible, and almost nowhere.

Or better: you can say, all these things, knowing that as soon as they are said, someone will arrive *, often with the smock, with a degree in psych * and / or with 4 beautiful children who have grown up to explain where we are wrong and how we should react instead .

What should we think of our desire that has been embodied for only a few weeks and how to “turn the page”.

For all these reasons (and for the testimonies that we have been collecting with the Instant study for fourteen months, which make the blood freeze due to the cultural backwardness on the subject) it is very appropriate to talk about spontaneous abortion with women who are carriers of this experience.

Giving space to the hundred thousand Italian women who every year try to get pregnant and have to deal with one or more spontaneous abortions is necessary, also and above all on 8 March .

Giving space to these experiences allows us to break down the taboo on women’s health and reproductive rights, but it also allows us to fight the social stigma against women who ” cannot have children “.

Being childless in Italy today means not existing .

And instead, thousands of women carry this weight alone every day, look when it is good with pity, when it goes badly humiliated (because they are old, because they are fat, because they are too young, because they cry, because they already have other children and therefore who complain, because they have an underlying disease and therefore they had to wait for it).

I am honored to be able to host Chiara’s testimony, who tells us about her experience

Bye CiaoLapo, bye women, bye men.
I am Chiara, I am 28 years old and I would like to be a mother, together with Christian, my partner in life, work and suffering.

I am healthy, but a few years ago I discovered that I have a nasty and unpleasant autoimmune disease: undifferentiated connectivitis. This crap, however, never stopped me. I have always been full of energy and desire to live my youth, to then one day be able to dedicate myself to my children, whom I have always dreamed of having. Chri and I have always had a gypsy life. We have lived in Spain, in Africa, in Costa Rica, in Romania, we have traveled far and wide fighting to try to help animals (which have been our mission since graduation). Then we decided to stop and build our nest. We now live on the outskirts of Turin, in the middle of a forest where we have our farmhouse and our 4-legged hairy baby girl.

During the first lockdown, last March, the wonderful news that after only 3 attempts, I was pregnant.

The surprise, the emotion. We walked over the sky, the stars and the stars. And our parents with us. In the naivety of the first time. I still remember the emotion of the first ultrasound. I was all dressed up, all pink with a long side braid. Mom and Christian with me. My soul trembled and I could not wait to meet my creature. First ultrasound, nothing is seen. Let’s try again in a week. Nothing yet. And then still nothing. After 4 dark ultrasound scans the diagnosis: light egg. The discouragement. The delusion. Fear. Because? And then the RU pill. The damned hospital with its insensitive doctors. The lack of humanity. Be a number and not a person. The cramps, the blood mixed with tears. We will try again, it doesn’t matter. I have trauma, I cry. But we will make it. Together.

January 5, 2021: test again positive, after a few months of attempts. Wonderful. Again. “Yes ok, but slowly this time to delude ourselves ok? Let’s not tell everyone like last time!”
We look forward to the first ultrasound. This time I am being treated by the super mega gynecologist expert in the hospital’s high-risk pregnancies department.
The emotion, the anxiety, the fear of finding that black ultrasound again. The fear that that gestational chamber was empty. But no! The heartbeat is there. And the fetus too. We fly above the clouds again. “This time we made it love. Let’s wait until March ends the term and then finally we breathe a sigh of relief.”
Two days later I start not having breast pain anymore. How nice, I don’t even have nausea anymore. Well … I’m a little strange about it … “Chri, should I call the midwife at the clinic?” “But no. Don’t worry. In fact, better.”
Two days later my libido begins to return, which had completely disappeared until then, and I no longer have the sudden changes in heat and cold of the weeks before.
“Good morning midwife, I’m sorry but I have no more symptoms, I’m incredibly fine … everything okay? Can I make an echo?”
“Chiara, I don’t understand the question. Pregnancy is fine! Don’t worry and experience pregnancy without anxiety”
My mom, my friends … they all said the same thing to me: “Come on Chiara, what a drag. What anxiety you have. Live serene!” I felt crazy. I listened to my body as we have always been taught to do, and I felt that something was wrong. I felt it. Just as I felt I was pregnant, without having to take the test, one month earlier.
But no. You are just anxious and these fears do not exist .

On Friday morning a slight and almost transparent light pink loss.
“Chri, look …”
“But Chiara is enough! It’s nothing!”
No, I don’t like it … so I’m going to the ER.
Triage, pretriage and nurse: “Madam, it will be implantation leaks. Don’t worry. We’ll do an ultrasound scan anyway, but don’t worry”
I enter the ultrasound room.
“Sorry madam, there is no more heartbeat. Get dressed and I’ll explain the procedure” “I already know the procedure, it’s the second one that happens to me” I wanted to laugh. Laugh, scream and break everything. I just felt like laughing.
A sword had pierced my heart and inside me there was only a thought “I knew it. I felt it. I knew it. Sorry, my child for not listening to you. I knew it.” It was 7 weeks. Few, fragile, 7 weeks. Meanwhile, your vision becomes blurred, your head is spinning, your legs are shaking. No, not again. Not again. Not again. Your mind repeats this phrase in a loop as you put on those bloody bloody panties. This time you were hoping for it. You believed it. This time you did everything possible, everything right. You took all the meds that the super medical experts gave you. What went wrong? Your body, woman. Your body cannot hold that heart within itself, despite your best efforts. Your body is not functioning. This is the thought that suffocates the mind. “I don’t work”.

And what does this have to do with March 8? With women’s day? It has to do with the fact that never, never in my life have I received so much violence as in those moments. When there, lying there, helpless, with tears in your eyes, you are not a person, a woman, a mother. You are a number. “Yeah, one is gone. Come on the other. Quick.” The doctor says to the nurse, once my cursed quick and hasty ultrasound is over.

As she writes the report in front of you, pale and shocked, the doctor chuckles with her colleague, as if we were at the post office and only the stamp was missing, while she prints the receipt for the package just sent.

Obstetric violence exists. Medical violence exists. By women, by men, by those health workers who should accompany you in this mourning and that what they do is just repeat a script in a cold, detached, almost annoyed way. Not a “I’m sorry”, not a smile, a caress on the shoulders, not a word of comfort. And you there, you have a thousand questions but the voice does not come out and you go, empty. Alone. “You’re young, come on come on, be strong that next time will be better” this is what the world can tell you, when you come out of that hospital with a sheet of paper, and you were in it with your baby on your lap. Then you crack a smile, while your throat burns with pain.

And here I am dedicating this March 8 to all those women who have heard that sentence. I dedicate this party, at times hypocritical, to all mothers who have not been, are no longer, or who cannot be. To all women who feel defective. This March 8, between domestic violence, femicides, women in science, women in politics, women who change the world … I want to dedicate it to all the women who felt alone at that moment, when squatting in bed, their chest has sunk.

No woman, you are not alone. There is little talk of spontaneous abortion. There is little talk of the harm it does, of the little empathy there is, of obstetric violence, of the crying of newborn babies in the next room while you are pissing yours in the toilet. Little is said about how much violence is done to us.

As if “a lot then passes”. But it does not pass. And fear keeps you awake at night. Fear of not being able to be a mother anymore. Fear of being wrong. But the days go by. Sometimes you touch your belly, as usual. A tear falls, then you smile and you give yourself strength, trying not to hate the world out there, where anyone and everywhere squirts in your face what you want to be and what you can’t. Not now.

Now I’m here, on the bed, with blood and tears again.
Different tears though. Tears of fear.
Will I ever be a mom? Will this damn connectivity ever allow me to be a mom? I start looking for adoption associations in the meantime.
You wonder if a child – not yours – will ever be enough for you
You wonder if dogs will be enough for you.
You wonder if Christian deserves a flawed woman.
You feel defective. If it were for mother nature, I would never be a mother without heparin and cardioaspirin. I’m not hiding behind this.
I want to deal with this disease.
I join Facebook groups where other mothers with autoimmune diseases tell me that after 3,4,5 abortions they are now hugging their babies and this gives me strength.
I don’t want to give up. As long as the body gives me energy I want to do it.
For me, for Christian. For us.

But I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of the next positive test. What will become of me and my anxieties? In the early morning without nausea I will run to the hospital because the last time I was right? How will I experience the pregnancy? Alert as if you were walking in the savannah among the lions? How will I experience ultrasound scans?
I want to be a mom, but I want to be a happy and healthy mom. Wise and aware. Instead now I just feel like a fragile and anxious woman.
Happy 8 March, woman. You’re not alone.

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