Welcome to the Sweet Pea Project's Blog, part of the Sweet Pea Project's effort to create a supportive and compassionate community for those of us affected by the death of a child. Here you will find updates on the Sweet Pea Project, as well as anything going on in the world that relates to childloss. If you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see discussed here, I'd love to hear it. Please make sure you stop by the official website, www.sweetpeaproject.org and feel free to email me for any reason at anytime at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.
peace, Stephanie Cole (Madeline's Mom)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Six Months is Not a Miscarriage

As you may have already heard, British recording artist Lily Allen's unborn son died earlier this week. She was six months along. I was heartbroken for her and her partner Sam Cooper, as I am heartbroken for every parent who has outlived their child. My heartbreak was joined by frustration when countless news outlets began covering this tragic story using the inaccurate term "miscarriage" to describe the death of Allen and Cooper's little boy.

Thankfully, I belong to a community of intelligent and passionate parents who are always willing to stand up for one another. One of those parents is Sweet Pea Project's own Beth Gauthier, who has herself experienced the devastating loss of a child through both a miscarriage and a stillbirth. Beth penned the following letter to the Associated Press.

Associated Press,

It is sadness mixed with anger that has compelled me to contact you. You published a story, which was then run by too many other sources to count, that Singer Lily Allen suffered a miscarriage. I am outraged that such a highly respected news source could not be bothered to use proper terminology. In failing to do so, the Associated Press not only misrepresented the terrible tragedy that Lily Allen and Sam Cooper have endured, but most likely have added to their suffering. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (as well as most other reputable medical resources) a miscarriage is the unintended loss of a pregnancy prior to 20 weeks gestation. This is not what happened to Allen and Cooper.
Armed with only the basic information that she reported to the hospital with cramping and then spent the weekend there trying to save their son, I can tell you that what happened to Allen and Cooper was either a stillbirth or premature delivery. A stillbirth involves a baby over 20 weeks gestation who dies in utero. The mother then labors and delivers her child. These children are swaddled and held, photographed and cried over. If their son was born alive and died shortly after, the misuse of the term miscarriage is even more reprehensible. I think that it is your duty to write some sort of retraction or addition to your original piece that validates the existence of their son and their struggle to save his life, and differentiates it from the very tragic but completely different experience of losing a child to miscarriage.
Beth Gauthier
Sweet Pea Project
PO Box 10351
Lancaster, PA 17605


To Lily Allen and Sam Cooper,
we extend our deepest sympathy
after the death of your much loved
and hoped for little boy.


  1. This is a great response, however, in the UK, where this occurred, stillbirth is a death from 24 weeks, not 20 weeks as here in the USA. Frankly, all the terms are insufficient, even miscarriage because a miscarriage at 5 wks or a miscarriage at 18 weeks are very different. So, I agree, this could have been handled better. However, at least they said baby and didn't just say she had a miscarriage. A baby is a baby no matter at what gestation it dies, and the experience from one mom to the next is very different depending on gestation, prior experiences and losses, belief system, willingness to face the death and grief etc...All in all, this is another tragedy that I truly wish had not occurred.

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  3. The death of a much loved and hoped for baby is a profound loss and a devastating tragedy regardless of the age or gestational stage of the child. If we are going to raise awareness and educate the public about this often ignored topic, then the language we use is important. This is not to say that one is worse than the other, simply that they are different and the correct word should be applied.