My son would be turning 20 this month. He was due on December 15, 1996. But in June of 1996, when I was entering the second week of my second trimester, I had a miscarriage — in medical terms, a spontaneous abortion — while preparing to deliver a paper at a prestigious women’s history conference a thousand miles from home.
The grief I felt over my miscarriage was accompanied by a sense that there was no space for my pain. You’ll find plenty of “congratulations, you’re expecting!” or “you have a new bundle of joy” cards at the local stationery store. But condolence cards for pregnancy loss are hard to find.
That’s probably because miscarriage is not a loss that people feel comfortable commenting upon. Ours is a culture that has no ritual for acknowledging the loss of a pregnancy. When I spoke at a Unitarian church about my miscarriage during a Mother’s Day service, word got back to me that many women appreciated my honesty. A large number of men, however, did not understand why I felt a need to talk about it, and certainly not on Mother’s Day.