My small birth

Our author becomes pregnant, but loses the child after only a few weeks. Why is it, she wonders, that we talk so little about miscarriages??

  • 28.05.2021

"First get dressed, and then I’ll tell you everything."Already in the changing room of the gynecologist I knew that something was wrong. "So. I can see the little embryo, but it hasn’t developed, and there’s no heartbeat detectable. This unfortunately becomes a miscarriage. I am very sorry."I was in Cologne for a few months on business. Shortly before, a gynecologist there had determined my pregnancy, only to have the bubble burst again at this moment.


Just a week before, my partner had visited me, we made friends with the idea of becoming a family, dreamed softly. Now I had to tell him on the phone what the gynecologist had told me.

Every sixth pregnancy ends in miscarriage – why don’t we talk about it??

What I experienced, many women experience. It’s just that hardly anyone talks about it. A miscarriage – I prefer to call it a small birth here – often occurs within the first three months of pregnancy. I, too, knew the recommendation not to tell those around you about the pregnancy until after the end of the third month. When it is reasonably "safe" that nothing more will happen. But why actually? Why is this topic so hushed up? Statistically, at least one in six pregnancies ends in a small birth during the first twelve weeks.

My little birth was physically and emotionally painful. I had decided against a medical abortion, and a curettage – an operation in which the remains of the embryo and the placenta are removed from the uterine cavity – was out of the question. The word alone I found horrible. So I went back to Berlin and waited. According to the info sheet of the gynecologist in Cologne, this is called "the conservative attitude". I imagined that there was something dying in my body right now and it didn’t want to let go yet. I found this cruel.

A miscarriage (also "abortion") is the premature termination of a pregnancy. Not to be confused with the sog. Termination of pregnancy (also called "abortion"). Since the term "miscarriage" is met with resentment by many of those affected, the author follows the suggestion of a midwife to call it "small birth". A common cause is a defective number of chromosomes in the embryo’s genome. But there are many possible reasons, for example physical or mental illness of the parents or non-developmental malformations of the fetus.

After 14 days my bleeding finally started. It lasted about six weeks. In the first week, I had contraction-like cramps and bleeding episodes so severe that I had to change the soaked pads every hour. From week two onwards it became a little less. I even thought I could get back up and go on again. Moving on with life.

But every time I was convinced I could switch back to everyday mode, a new fat bout of blood with clots and mucous membrane remnants came as a reminder of the past pregnancy and rubbed my prematurity in my face. This showed me how much I was shirking the emotions that were hitting me during all this time.


Everything was heavy in my head. I would have liked to have just sunk into the ground. There was a lot of sadness, disappointment, helplessness. Two women told me about their experiences with the small birth. Perhaps you wanted to encourage me. But what got through to me was: "You have to go through with it. Think again about the curettage. Then everything is safely out."But my insides were screaming: NO!! I wanted to give my body and myself the time we needed. And I am immensely grateful that I had the privilege of taking it. I was on sick leave for the rest of my cologne project and home for several months to cope. I needed this time to understand everything, to say goodbye.

After the bleeding had stopped, I felt the need to create a symbolic closure and thus a gentle new beginning. On the phone I told my friend Lisa about the small birth and the wish to cut my hair off. She came over and took a picture of me. Cutting off my own hair and thus losing real heaviness was liberating. The pictures symbolize for me what such drastic experiences often bring with them: that every end also has a beginning.

The whole project with all photos appeared on 9. March in Divers Magazine.

This text is published under the license CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE. The photos may not be used.

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