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Peta’s story – 24 years as the Miscarriage Association’s newsletter editor

Peta talks about how she got involved with the Miscarriage Association after experiencing 3 miscarriages, and about how sharing stories can make a real difference.

Back then, there was no Internet to consult and the paper copy [of the Miscarriage Association newsletter] was my lifeline... For me, turning to the Personal Accounts detailing women’s (and sometimes men’s) experiences of pregnancy loss was always the first thing I did.

The following was published in our final printed newsletter, Autumn/Winter 2022:

The Summer 1998 issue of the Miscarriage Association Newsletter was my first as its editor. This Autumn/Winter 2022 issue – the final paper copy issue – will be my last…

I first became involved with the M.A. when I was trying for a much-wanted family of my own. Sadly, that was not to be and after I had suffered (that is just how it felt…) three early miscarriages, I turned to the M.A. and its newsletter for much needed support. Little did I know that would be the start of 30 years of involvement with this amazing Association!!

After having joined the M.A. in May 1992, I became a volunteer telephone contact in April 1993 and a member of the M.A. Committee (now the Trustee Board) from September 1994 to September 1998. I then resigned to become the newsletter editor.

Back then, there was no Internet to consult and the paper copy was my lifeline. Originally it was produced quarterly and I read it from cover to cover as soon as possible after it came through my letterbox.

For me, turning to the Personal Accounts detailing women’s (and sometimes men’s) experiences of pregnancy loss was always the first thing I did.

Having recently re-read the Summer 1998 issue, my overriding impression is just how much has changed over the years.

When I became editor, the Internet was in its infancy and much of the newsletter copy was handwritten, sent by Royal Mail to either Head Office or to my home.

I had forgotten just how much effort went into those letters for inclusion in the Personal Accounts section – it seemed somehow much more private and from the heart when it was written by hand and was especially difficult to have to sometimes edit down the very long ones, for fear of leaving out something very special for the writer…

So much developed with the advent of the World Wide Web. Getting information and support to those experiencing the trauma and sadness of miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy became much more accessible, but has quickly become the norm.

In 1998, the newsletter featured ‘What is on the Internet?’, a piece by committee member Barbara Hepworth-Jones. She began: “More and more people have access to the internet, or can get access through local libraries or internet cafés and there is a huge amount of information available including much on miscarriage. It can be difficult to start finding information on the area you are interested in and miscarriage is no exception. If you do a search on “miscarriage” then you will be overwhelmed with suggestions, many of which are duplicates or not relevant.”

At the time, the M.A. had a small ‘static’ website, as Barbara noted: “The M.A.’s own site [has] details of the support and information available, how to become a member and phone and address details. There are links to American miscarriage organisations. A very clear and easy to use site.”

Of course, over the years the M.A. has gone from strength to strength and increasingly, the newsletter has included much more: items on research, new leaflets, awareness campaigns, on work to improve NHS care and workplace practice for people with pregnancy loss. We’ve read about new resources on the website and about contributions to government consultations on issues like certificates after pregnancy loss and bereavement leave.

Differences have been huge, but along the way, the feelings of those who have experienced pregnancy loss stay more or less the same – the wording people use may have changed and the way we share our information, but the underlying feelings of losing your baby remain…

I shall always remember with great fondness, my times with the editorial red pen and have made lasting friends along the way. I give a huge thank you to Ruth and the amazing team at the M.A. for all their hard work; the Trustees; all the volunteers and most of all, everyone who has ever contributed to the newsletter – I hope you can look back and say that we made a difference…

Peta Harrison

Peta with Ruth Bender Atik, National Director

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