Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Gentle Genocide

A friend of mine just had a miscarriage. The statistics show that about a quarter of a million babies will miscarriage in one year in the UK. On top of that 17 babies are still born in the UK every day. And then there are terminations for abnormality .... and I don't even know the statistics for that. What I do know is that when you add it all up it's a lot of babies. In my mind I call it The Gentle Genocide. Because it is a genocide, a holocaust, a massacre, and yet it happens so quietly you never even know about it. And that's what's so strange - the fact that we simply accept this situation. Dead babies are taboo. They are not to be discussed in polite society. In the Twin Towers tragedy approximately 3,000 people died. Think of all the publicity, discussion, comment there has been about that. Before anyone gets angry let me say that I'm not comparing someone having a miscarriage to someone losing a relative in a terroist attack. There clearly is a very big difference. But what exactly is the nature of that difference? Do foetuses not count because you don't see them? Why are the 3,000 always talked about and the half a million never talked about? What is it costing us as a society to live with denial on such a huge scale? And how do we all keep getting up in the morning in the face of so much loss?


Hope said...

I am so glad you found my blog but I am sorry you have to join this horrible club that nobody wants to be in. I am so sorry for your friends lost.

Tash said...

I'm extremely uncomfortable with the word genocide here -- rather implies there was a deliberate act to kill all these children, which there was not.

But I think your point is that despite the fact that all these babies die, there is no discourse in our Western culture to deal with it, and that is a pity. I think it has a lot to do with fear and denial, and our focus on self-determination: that is, WE are who are responsible for babies' health (hence the overwhelming stress on taking iron, not drinking, not eating a myriad of "dangerous" foods, etc.). No one likes to deal with the messy business of things that happen for reasons beyond our control and muck up the logical order of life. There are no words for that or the aftermath. And it's a shame.

Anonymous said...

It does seem a bit crazy how many babies die. You only find this out AFTER you have suffered a loss. I really think it should be covered more on the web and in maternity books. Only now that I have lost my baby do other women (two today, thank you) come up and tell me they lost a baby. Why not warn me before I lost her?
My coworker is now pregnant- I will buy her a kick counter after her 20 week ultrasound.
I don't know the exact number, but I think the US has way more stillbirths every day. When I was in the hospital (2 days) there were at least 3 other rooms with the "loss here" butterfly outside the door.
Alice, can you talk to ther pregnant women about your loss? If so, how do you approach it and how is it received? I would like to be able to do this in my future.
sorry- i cant seem to login right now so i will be anon. see my blog at serenityjoy dot blogspot dot com

Brooke said...

I'm with Tash that the word genocide isnt quite appropriate...but I totally understand what you are saying here. It is shocking how common this whole thing is, and yet it is never spoken about, and viewed as kind of taboo. Sad and frustrating...