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Breaking the 'Secret Code'

July 18, 1999

I read Mary McNamara's article ("The Secret Code of Miscarriage Survivors," July 11) late last night after my children and my wife were all sound asleep. Fantastic article; I only hope my patients are reading this too. I have practiced ob-gyn for close to nine years now. Over the years I must have seen hundreds of patients in different stages of miscarriage. They bleed, they cramp, they are afraid, upset, hostile, needy, quiet, screaming--you name it, I have seen all combinations. I have gone through the routines, telling them it's not their fault, not to blame their job, husband, smoking habit. I have briefly gone over the genetic bases for miscarriage, etc., etc., but I didn't really understand the impact it can have on a person's life until the wife of a very good friend had one not too long ago. . . . Your article does such a wonderful job describing the emotions, denial and fear that women go through when the unthinkable happens and the pregnancy dies. Americans, like no one else in the world, can sit on an airplane and discuss their bypass surgery, hysterectomy or whatever surgery, but this, the dreaded miscarriage, is still such a taboo subject. Thank you for making it so clear to all the women who read your article. You did them a big favor.

--DR. MIKAEL BRISINGER

Via Internet

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I just wanted to thank you for the article you wrote about the secret code of miscarriage survivors. I, too, suffered a miscarriage in the 10th week of my first pregnancy, six months ago. Every time I see a pregnant woman or a baby in a stroller it breaks my heart. What has helped me is the knowledge that so many people I know have suffered and survived the same loss and now have beautiful children.

What has also helped me, interestingly, is to delve into the spirituality of loss. That is, some Jews believe that we have certain things to learn in our lifetimes. Once we learn these lessons, we die. One teaching has it that if a child dies before the age of 13, it may be that the child has learned the lesson she came to learn (even if she dies in the womb), or the child existed, and perhaps died, in order to teach the parents something that they had to learn. In any case, I think you were brave and wonderful to write such a personal and, ultimately, helpful article.

--MIRIAM BOOKEY

Santa Monica

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