We are missing a word

English has the word miscarriage to describe the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy. In my language (Catalan) and also in Spanish we have to say abortion. Spontaneous abortion, okay, but really everyone calls it abortion. And an abortion is not the same thing as a miscarriage. It can also be called pregnancy loss or stillbirth (depending on the weeks of pregnancy) but these terms are used especially in clinical settings.

What happened to me was that my daughter died in my belly and I did not realize it. We heard her heart two or three days before it stopped. It was during the weeks in which it is normal to notice fetal movement but it is not strange not to notice it either. And I hadn’t noticed anything yet, but I was not worried. Until the routine visit to the midwife on week 18 we did not realize that her heart was no longer beating. I had to induce labor and then I had to ‘give birth’ to a dead girl of 15 weeks gestation.

My daughter had already a name, she was expected and we loved her. What happened to us is that her heart stopped. And nobody knows why it happened.

It can’t be so that what happened to me has the same name as when a pregnant woman decides to terminate her pregnancy (which naturally has the right to do, of course).

And since then I think we should have a word like the English miscarriage to describe spontaneous abortions, because I find it very hard to say that I had an abortion, although my pregnancy history says it very clearly.

1 = good ended pregnancies, 2 = premature deliveries, 3 = abortions, 4 = living children

abortion

But I don’t feel it.

In my novel ‘Landing’, I invented Ana Mei Balau, a woman who worked creating missing words in some languages. Little did I know then that one day I would so much need a word we do not have.

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