In a story on Time.com, UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing Dean Kristen Swanson comments on George W. Bush talking about the miscarriage his mother had when he was a teenager:
“Let’s put ourselves in Barbara Bush’s position,” says Kristen Swanson, the study’s lead investigator and a nurse who is also dean of the nursing school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). “She’s home, bleeding, cramping and passes the fetus. She scoops it up, puts it in a jar and says, Drive me to the hospital. She says to her son, I’m in the middle of a miscarriage, and this is the fetus that I just passed. There is nothing sinister in this.”
Read the complete article: George W. Bush, His Mom and Her Fetus: Not So Weird After All. Swanson is an expert on miscarriage and how couples respond emotionally to it. She began her work on miscarriage 25 years ago with her dissertation, “The Unborn One: A Profile of The Human Experience of Miscarriage,” and has continued studying this area both as an investigator and as a consultant to other researchers’ works.
Although some have been shocked that President George W. Bush saw the fetus in a jar when he drove his mother to the hospital, Swanson said that the holding of the fetus is one of the most tender and private losses that a woman goes through when she miscarries.
“There are very few opportunities to process that profound experience,” said Swanson, also an Alumni Distinguished Professor in the nursing school. “It is acceptable to talk about parents holding their child in the hospital and watching their child pass, but we don’t talk about holding a miscarried fetus.”
“During counseling I have found that when I probe on this topic, women become very still, begin to cry, and talk in deep detail about what it looked like. It is a profound human experience for which there is very little opportunity to talk.”
“Mrs. Bush’s willingness to openly share her loss with her teenage son clearly deepened President Bush’s relationship with his mother,” Swanson said. “Mrs. Bush’s willingness to share her story through President Bush’s book clears a space for society to talk about the suffering and healing that accompanies childbearing loss.”
Swanson’s study topics include early pregnancy loss, and counseling and self-care strategies that help couples resolve grief and depression after pregnancy loss.
She can be reached at email@example.com, or via Nancy Lamontagne or Patric Lane.