My Musings


Etymology (noun): The study of the history and origin of words

In the same way I felt about the word grief, I want to explore the word MISCARRIAGE. I already know where I’m going with this blog: the word doesn’t sum it up.

For a start, it should be spelled misscarriage i.e. I miss carrying my baby.

I miss everything about her. I miss how she kept me warm, I miss that food tasted amazing (I have no appetite now), I miss having her company, I miss talking to her, I miss making plans for her, I miss walking down the street singing to her and saying things like: “This is Taylor. We love Taylor. Very important!” I miss my ally, I miss my daughter. I miss everything I had and everything I didn’t.

I just looked up the etymology of the word miscarriage and apparently ‘mis’ comes from “mistakenly, wrongly or badly”. Yes, I agree that miscarriage ends badly, that women were wrongfully robbed, but I object to it also being derived from the word mistake. No mistake in the carrying of the baby was made: it wasn’t an error, fault or blunder on the part of the mother. Something went wrong and it ended badly. I’m even more convinced now that whoever came up with the word (I’m almost certain it wasn’t someone who’s been through it!), focused on the wrong part by choosing ‘mis’. It definitely should have been ‘miss’.

And what does Mr Google have to say? Well, these are the two definitions provided:

Miscarriage (noun):

  • The spontaneous or unplanned expulsion of a foetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently
  • An unsuccessful outcome of something planned

Definition 1: Spontaneous is usually synonymous with fun, right? That’s my interpretation anyway, and so it goes without saying, there’s nothing fun about miscarriage. I also dislike the use of the word “expulsion” as it makes me think of “rejection”. I’d prefer the use of “baby” over “foetus” to make it all feel less clinical. Also, what’s that rubbish about babies being able to survive independently? Show me a baby that can survive independently outside of the womb! Babies need their parents. The only think I ‘like’ about this, is the use of the word “unplanned”. Complete definition fail. I give it a 1 out of 5.

Definition 2: This one’s better. Rather brief and perfunctory, but I can get on board with the use of the words “unsuccessful” and “planned”. Perhaps this definition however is used more for describing the legal term, a miscarriage of justice (though a medical miscarriage really IS that, isn’t it? An injustice. The miscarriage club: the worst club to be in, but often full of the best people). On the whole, the definition is just a bit too concise. It makes miscarriage sound mechanical. It’s not a remotely emotive statement, it conjures none of the shock, the physical or emotional pain, the trauma, the follow up.

I’ve broken it down best I can right now, but it still baffles me how little is known about miscarriage in general. When my waters broke too early I said to the consultant:

“I know this will sound silly, but I have to ask: isn’t there a way to get more fluid back around the baby? We can do brain surgery and heart transplants now, can’t we give the baby more fluid?”

Apparently not. Why is no one working on that? Perhaps they are.

How is 1 in 4 an acceptable statistic? Why can’t I change it? So many of us can’t. It blows my mind how many women have gone through this, are going through this. Do you know how much pain that is?

I would be interested to know: to those who haven’t been through it, what did the word miscarriage mean to you before? Does it mean anything different now, after reading this post or my Mumoirs in general?

As always, there’s no making sense of any of this. Pick it apart as I might. When it comes to the word miscarriage, there’s really only one thing that needs to be said:

BoCcy, My Baby and Summer; your mummy misses carrying you.

(2) Comments

  1. I hate the word miscarriage too. So much to say about it! You’ve done a beautiful job here explaining why it’s the wrong word. ‘Mis’ implies a failure of some kind. We use this word miscarriage and send women home to tell them it wasn’t their fault. The messaging is difficult to reconcile (at least for me). Also, I have never understood why we say miscarriage but not full-carriage when someone delivers at term with a living baby.

    1. Anjulie says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Leah, and great point re full-carriage! My husband has since pointed out that he’s seen the definition of miscarriage as “spontaneous abortion”!! I’m so pleased that’s not the one I found when I was up writing this blog at 3am! I would still be writing my angry response now!

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