If you are reading this after your first trimester, you can probably skip this article; for the most part, miscarriage usually occurs in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Reaching your second trimester is a victory indeed. Usually after about the twelfth week of pregnancy, the chances of miscarriage plunge. This is truly a milestone, and couples can breathe more easily when they’ve reached this point. In fact, pregnancy loss after twelve weeks is almost always due to a rare catastrophic event or an even rarer genetic mishap that took a little longer to catch up.
We are all more than the sum of our parts. In these shells, our bodies, we live our mortal lives at the mercy of the biological rules that govern survival. And, sometimes bad things happen: one such bad thing is miscarriage. There are those who say miscarriage is a very good thing, assuring the health of our species. But couples aren’t thinking about the survival of our species when they choose to have a child. No one thanks Darwin for a miscarriage. In fact, miscarriages usually cause pain and anger, sometimes directed at God. But it is in fact misdirected, for such a complex creature as a human being is exceedingly special by the very nature of what it takes to build one.
Doctors gush over lawyer jokes (probably too much), but there is this joke that comes to mind:
Q:What do a sperm and a lawyer have in common?
A: They each have a one in 60 million chance of being a human being.
My brother, the lawyer, hates lawyer jokes. When he gives me that look, I remind him about the arithmetic involved: 1 in 60,000,000 chance for him to have been conceived, and then another 1 in 60,000,000 to be the great guy that he is. He’s one in three and a half quadrillion! The point is that each person is a unique individual that is the result of infinitesimal odds.
We take this for granted because we look around at everyone and see, well, everyone. But each and every person we encounter—those people in the elevator with us, in those partially obstructed seats at rock concerts, in line at the DMV, in the stadium doing the wave—they’ve all made it through a process much more challenging than winning all the Grand Slams in a year. Each of us is in the winner’s circle. But sometimes there’s an elimination in the finals. In spite of conception against all odds, a process following the nine-month plan to become a human being goes awry anyway, and a pregnancy ends when this process is no longer compatible with life.
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