Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lightning Strikes

I have been trying to write this post off and on for several days. I'm not sure why it has been so difficult. In any case, I'm just going to post it and throw it out there for whatever it's worth.

I have been thinking about the actual chances of what happened to us. Our babies dying, I mean. Whether they died before they were born or after- What are the actual chances?

This pondering came about as I have been thinking about what has happened to actress Natasha Richardson- she was skiing on the bunny slopes Monday and fell and hit her head. She thought she was ok, but later decided to go to the hospital. It was more serious than initially thought and last I heard was she is brain dead, on life support. (Actually, in checking the newsites it appears she has died- at age 45. So sad)

How many times has one of my kids fallen and hit their head? My oldest two just went skiing for the first time last month. I'm sure they did not wear helmets- my husband is not the type to insist.

Great. One more thing for me to worry about. It is not just enough to get them here safely. So many accidents waiting to happen.

(As I was working on this post last night my husband came home with a present for our 11 year old's birthday. An air rifle. Does that man want me to never sleep soundly again?)

But I hear my husband's voice "But that skiing accident was such a rare thing! Not common at all- no need to worry about that happening.

But those of us here know we do need to worry about uncommon things occurring.

How many of us were told by our doctors "It was a fluke- a one in a 'insert-large-number-here' chance of happening.

And yet, let's look at some statistics.

If you can find them.

Googling statistics for pregnancy loss or stillbirth or infant mortality are tricky things.

Firstly, why is it every site I come across has statistics from 1995 or 1996? More than ten years ago.

Secondly, the sites have it all broken down into little subcategories. Different reasons. Different etnicities. Different states. All on their own little colored charts and maps.

It is easy to turn away. I didn't really want to know, anyway. It is too complicated to figure it out. I just know our babies are gone. Will the statistics really change anything?

And yet, I do think I want to know.

On the site I found these statistics:


There are approximately 6 million pregnancies every year throughout the United States:

* 4,058,000 live births
* 1,995,840 pregnancy losses

Pregnancy Loss:

Every year in the United States there are approximately 2 million women who experience pregnancy loss:

* 600,000 women experience pregnancy loss through miscarriage
* 1,200,000 women experience pregnancy loss through termination
* 64,000 women experience pregnancy loss through ectopic pregnancy
* 6,000 women experience pregnancy loss through molar pregnancies
* 26,000 women experience pregnancy loss through stillbirth

Pregnancy Complications:

Every year in the United States:

* 875,000 woman experience one or more pregnancy complications
* 458,952 babies are born to mothers without adequate prenatal care
* 467,201 babies are born prematurely
* 307,030 babies are born with Low Birth Weight
* 154,051 children are born with Birth Defects
* 27,864 infants die before their first birthday

Holy crap, am I reading that right? Out of 6 million pregnancies in the US each year nearly 2 million of those do not result in a live birth? Nearly 1/3 of pregnancies? 1 out of 3?

Would you drive in a car if you knew 1 out of 3 trips you would be in a fatal accident?

And why why why do people not talk about it more? One out of Three seems very common to me. Why do we never hear about it until it happens to us?

None of us should feel like we are alone. None of us should feel that we are the only ones this has happened to. Clearly, it is more common than I ever thought.

I came on here to write what I thought would be an entirely different post.

How to make this a hopeful piece? I try to not leave on a totally down note, generally.

And yet I'm left with that number echoing in my head. One out of Three.

To put it in perspective (and just because I was curious) the odds of being struck by lightning (in your lifetime, est. 80 years) is 1/5000.

None of us are alone in this. Sadly, many other women know our same sadness of losing a child. Thank goodness for the support and friendship I have found. I don't know what people did before internet, before support groups, before blogs. It is how I've stayed sane.

((HUGS)) to everyone out there grieving their children.



Ter said...

Lightning does strike more often than one thinks. It's just, how many times does it hit you? Well, in my case it hit me twice (first my daughter then my husband)

In regards to statistics, people like to believe that bad things only happen to other people and then are surprised when it happens to them.

Heather said...

At 31 years I had a 1/900 chance of a baby with Down Syndrome. 75% die before they are ever born. Now my chaces are 1/100. It makes you wonder how we ever populated the earth. Thanks for posting this. I am addicted to statistics and I've wondered about this for a few weeks now. A 1 in 3 chance...whew! Hopefully the more this sinks in the more I won't feel like I was being singled out.

Zil said...

Very impactful post.

I'm trying to figure out where I fit into the loss categories...having a cornual ectopic that was thriving and all.

bir said...

Thanks Emily x

You've prompted me to write my own version of lightning..

AnnaBelle said...

The risk of bilateral renal agenesis is 1-2/10,000 pregnancies.

It really is amazing when you think about how you must be seeing multiple women everyday who have had a pregnancy that did not result in a live birth.

Thanks for this thought provoking post.

Rachel said...

Before I got pregnant with Jake after Ryan passed away I consulted one of the leading researchers of CHARGE Syndrome to talk about the chances of it happening again. His response was basically like getting struck by lightning twice. Well when those odds nip you in the backside once you just feel like twice is just as likely now. We took the leap and tried again. We still struggle with fears of over reacting or under reacting if one of the boys are sick. Once you have been struck you wait for that second bolt in the back of your mind.