There’s a drama series on the telly at the moment, Call the Midwife. By all accounts it’s excellent. It stars Miranda Hart, who I have quite a crush on. It’s a costume drama set in the ’50s. It has medical emergencies and is about brave intelligent women being brave and intelligent and saving the day. What’s not to like? By rights I should be glued to it.
I can’t bring myself to watch anything that’s all about babies, and birth, and pregnancy, and babies, and more babies, and women having babies, and for all I know because I haven’t watched a single minute of it, but it wouldn’t be a serious drama if they didn’t, babies dying, or nearly dying, and emergencies, and blood, and women grieving. I can’t watch it. I can’t. I’d either be sick with envy, or flung into a nice little bout of PTSD, or both in the same half-hour, which I can tell you makes for a bloody uncomfortable night.
I am currently forcing myself to watch The Time-Traveler’s Wife, despite the fact I know very well the plot features RPL. Because I am sick of avoiding things just in case they freak me out. One movie I can take, yes? Yes I can.
Though I am absolutely baffled, baffled I tell you, by how few reviews mention the miscarriages and the sorrow it causes the main characters and how it drives their decisions and therefore the plot. BAFFLED. Jesus. It’s one of the main strands of the entire fucking movie and no one mentions it. Or they mention ‘complications in the marriage’. Or ‘problems’, if they’re feeling particularly shameless.
Reviewers will talk about how the film-makers handled death, mutilation, kinky sex, muggings, alcoholism, cancer, vomit, creepy paedophiliac overtones, guns, homophobia, surgery, emotional abuse, eating live goldfish, genocide, nazism, hell, they’ll talk at length about the costumes and whether or not the accents are believable. But not miscarriage. Not even when it’s central to the plot.
I don’t, actually, understand why humans are so very bad at dealing with other people’s grief generally. I don’t understand, either, in a culture that will happily share pictures of their shit-encrusted children, or their afterbirth, or their own arse-crack, on facebook, why miscarriage is still such a taboo hush-hush subject. Of course it is – in a movie where one of the main plot points was recurrent miscarriage, none of the reviews I read on IMDB mentioned it. And I read dozens.
Anyway, it’s been a year since I last saw a (faint. Risibly faint) second line on a pregnancy test. Part of me feels I should, therefore, be Over It, whatever Over It means, and that is why I made myself watch The Time Traveler’s Wife (being British, I am desperate to make that a double L). And, er, well, yes, I am over it in that I can watch scenes of miscarriage on screen and ‘merely’ feel a great empathic wrench at the guts. I think I was more affected by the scene in which they argue about whether or not to carry on trying.
But I’m still not going to watch Call the Midwife. Because that would bring up the horrible, unspeakable subject of envy. And I don’t care to reduce myself to throwing hissy fits at the telly because some silly little pixellated imaginary character has convincingly mimed giving birth to a rubber doll for our entertainment.
As it is we had to stop watching Dexter halfway through series 3 because it was beginning to uncomfortably warm my piss that they used threatened pregnancy loss as a plot-device to heighten tension and increase the stakes. Oh, yes, very well, I know it bloody does heighten tension and increase stakes (have you seen my blog ratings whenever I miscarry? They triple for that month). But given the storyline, it was unnecessary. And cheesy. And of course everything was fine and they were fine and Dexter felt all protective because they’d had a scare yada yada. Pure Kraft Singles. (There’s also the whole even-a-serial-killer-can-get-his-girlfriend-knocked-up-by-accident thing. But that’s just petty of me. We should finish watching the third series of Dexter).
So what do we learn from all this? That whereas screenwriters are perfectly happy to use miscarriage and threatened miscarriage to increase dramatic tension, the General Public does NOT want to talk about it, hell, would much rather talk about fountaining nasal mucous. That even a year after the last one, I feel angry, and sad, and cheated, that I had so many miscarriages. That it takes longer than a year, more than one good cry. That I am drowning in limbo. That because so few people will speak of it, write of it, make TV programs about it that show all the times it doesn’t all work out well, what happened to me, is still happening to me, is, literally, unspeakable.
How do you survive something which simply does not exist in your culture?