Why James Van Der Beek Thinks We Need A New Term For 'Miscarriage'

“ 'Mis-carriage,' in an insidious way, suggests fault for the mother - as if she dropped something, or failed to 'carry.' ”

Despite the fact that 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, many hesitate to discuss their personal experiences with such loss because of the negative stigma attached. However, actor James Van Der Beek recently took to Instagram to share his family's struggles in an effort to counteract the misconceptions that often make the grieving process exponentially worse.

"Wanted to say a thing or two about miscarriages ... of which we've had three over the years (including right before this little beauty)," Van Der Beek captioned the photo of him, his wife Kimberly, and their newborn. "First off - we need a new word for it. 'Mis-carriage,' in an insidious way, suggests fault for the mother - as if she dropped something, or failed to 'carry.'  From what I've learned, in all but the most obvious, extreme cases, it has nothing to do with anything the mother did or didn't do. So let's wipe all blame off the table before we even start."

Van Der Beek, who welcomed his fifth child with wife Kimberly earlier this year, understands that, while miscarriages can be devastatingly painful, those who've experienced said loss aren't as alone as they might feel in that moment.

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"It's painful and it's heartbreaking on levels deeper than you may have ever experienced. So don't judge your grief, or try to rationalize your way around it. Let it flow in the waves in which it comes, and allow it it's rightful space," he wrote. "And then ... once you're able ... try to recognize the beauty in how you put yourself back together differently than you were before. Some changes we make proactively, some we make because the universe has smashed us, but either way, those changes can be gifts."

"Many couples become closer than ever before," Van Der Beek added. "Many parents realize a deeper desire for a child than ever before. And many, many, many couples go on to have happy, healthy, beautiful babies afterwards (and often very quickly afterwards - you've been warned). I've heard some amazing metaphysical explanations for them, mostly centering around the idea that these little souls volunteer for this short journey for the benefit of the parents ... but please share whatever may have given you peace or hope along the way ... Along with a new word for this experience."

Using the hashtags #WeNeedANewName and #MoreCommonThanYouHearAbout, Van Der Beek emphasized that miscarriage happens far more frequently than some might think and that, ultimately, changing its name might help conversations about miscarriage flow more freely, as couples will no longer feel like they're being judged for the biological event over which they have little to no control.

Countless Instagram users flooded Van Der Beek's comments with praise for his call to support women and eliminate this undue burden many must bear, as many opened up about their own personal losses.

"First of all, I'm sorry you and your wife have had to experience this," stefaniek89 wrote. "I have had 5 miscarriages since we had our first baby. Our son is 9 almost 10 and he is always begging for a brother or sister. It breaks my heart that I can't give that to him. I am scared to try anymore, but I know my desire to have another baby is so strong. I just have to have faith. Often women tend to blame themselves for the loss, but it is definitely not our fault. Thank you for being understanding and standing up for us women!"

"This is beautiful, and needed to be said. Thank you," somemelodioussonnet said. "I had three miscarriages before having my beautiful son. Now, I've had four more losses since him. It's been a variety of issues, and we hope we've found them all by now. But, we'll never [know] pure, innocent joy again when we see a positive pregnancy test. We'll never have full trust that we'll meet that baby. The sense of imminent loss, the idea that any appointment could end in heartbreak ... It's not something I'd wish on anyone. My comfort is in Jesus Christ, and my knowledge that I will meet those babies when I get to Heaven." 

"Imagining that reunion, and enjoying the present with my living (amazing) son, can get me through most of the worst days," she added. "Also, I named the lost babies--even the ones we didn't truly know the sex of. I had a sense of who they might be and named them accordingly. It's not a practice everyone would like, but it helped me heal. It gave them an identity beyond "that loss in May." I could do that for them, and it made me feel like they would know they were loved and remembered."

"Thank you so much for posting this," petalscharity wrote. "So many women feel shame about losing a baby even though there is nothing shameful about it. But nevertheless this often stops them from talking openly about their loss. It's so important for both Mums and Dads to feel they can talk and be heard after such a devastating experience. Sending love and thanks to your beautiful family, including those no longer here."

Hopefully Van Der Beek's post will encourage others to open up about their experiences, thereby providing those who've suffered such loss with an outlet to cope and recover in a world that hasn't always welcomed such conversations.

Cover image via Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

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