Nobody Wants to Live in a Tricycle

Explaining Miscarriage to My Eight Year Old

Telling my daughter I was pregnant at four weeks was a risky move. It was what I decided though.

She was thrilled. Each week we would google descriptions of how the baby was growing. Every day she would would rub my belly and say “hi.”

Then I miscarried.

Resting in bed, I called my daughter into the room.

“What’s up mom?” She asked sounding a few years too old.

I reached out and touched her arm. “Honey, the baby is gone.”

“What?” She pulled away. Her lower lip quivered. “What do you mean? Why?”

“Oh sweetie. Come here.” I patted my hand on the bed.

She backed away and sat by my feet.

“I’m upset too.” I said.

“What happened?” She asked.

“It just wasn’t meant to be.”

“But why? I don’t understand.”

“Usually when this happens, its is because there is a problem with genetics.”

“What do you mean?”

I spoke about embryos and DNA.

“Can you explain it better?”

I repeated what I had said but added details about sperm and eggs.

“No, not like that.” She shook her head. “Can’t you explain it a different way? Like how you explained World War II with monkeys and bananas.”

“Okay.” I paused. “The car was bad.”

“Huh?”

“Well, our physical bodies are like cars. Sometimes as the car grows, it isn’t good. When that happens the mommy’s body lets it go.”

“What do you mean, ‘isn’t good?’”

“Well, let’s say instead of building a car with four wheels, the car has twelve. My daughter giggled.

“Why does that happen?”

“Bad programming. The car starts as a just a tiny box. It has instructions on how to built itself. As time goes on, it gets bigger and adds parts, like an engine.”

“And a steering wheel.” She added.

“Yes.” I responded. “Sometimes there is an error in the directions. The car won’t have brakes or windows. The baby doesn’t want to live in a car with no windows.”

My daughter nods in agreement, but her smile fell away.

“Wait.” She paused and began crying. “Did the baby die?”

“No. The car died. The baby wasn’t in the car yet. It was hanging out around me to see if the car would be good enough.”

“So the baby will come back?”

“Maybe. The baby may stick around and wait for another car. Time will tell.”

She crawls up next to me in bed and we snuggle.

“What kind of car do you think it was?”

“A tricycle.”

“A tricycle?” She giggled. “Who would want to live in a tricycle?”

“Exactly.” I replied.

She paused. “I think you’re a minivan.”

“A minivan? Really? A minivan?”

“Yeah, that’s just what I see.” She jumped out of bed and ran away.