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Hard to Bear: Investigating the science and silence of miscarriage

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It is wonderful what an insight into domestic economy being really hard up gives one. If you want to find out the value of money, live on 15 shillings a week and see how much you can put by for clothes and recreation. You will find out that it is worth while to wait for the farthing change, that it is worth while to walk a mile to save a penny, that a glass of beer is a luxury to be indulged in only at rare intervals, and that a collar can be worn for four days.

Isabelle Oderberg’s Hard to Bear examines pregnancy loss through a lens of investigative journalism upheld by a strong phenomenological framework. Writing with humour, heart and intelligence, the author examines pregnancy loss from practical, cultural, medical and personal perspectives, in accessible and engaging prose. Touching on subjects as varied as defining personhood and the disposal of remains, Oderberg negotiates a gentle path through grief with informed analysis, with an overarching aim towards abolishing taboo. Sheila put up with Damian’s immaturity for as long as she could, but she considered his infidelity too much to bear. In these cases, it’s helpful to create some kind of mnemonic or tool to help you remember when to use which word. An inch is too much to bare when stripping the insulation from copper wiring; a strong connection usually only requires ¼ inch of exposed wire or less. There are many burning questions and few satisfactory answers surrounding the search for adequate pregnancy-loss support – a gap this book aims to bridge with scientific fact and empathic compassion. Readers who have experienced poor healthcare in the context of pregnancy loss will be infuriated – but not surprised – by the systemic issues uncovered by the author’s research. Aptly titled, Hard to Bear may be emotionally triggering to the same demographic it is most likely to benefit. However, as evidenced by the author’s dedication to the cause, perseverance can lead to positive outcomes, and this book does end on an optimistic note.Note: The term to bear fruit uses bear not bare. (This term is often mistakely written as to bare fruit.) Dear old ladies and gentlemen who know nothing about being hard up–and may they never, bless their gray old heads–look upon the pawn-shop as the last stage of degradation; but those who know it better (and my readers have no doubt, noticed this themselves) are often surprised, like the little boy who dreamed he went to heaven, at meeting so many people there that they never expected to see. For my part, I think it a much more independent course than borrowing from friends, and I always try to impress this upon those of my acquaintance who incline toward “wanting a couple of pounds till the day after to-morrow.” But they won’t all see it. One of them once remarked that he objected to the principle of the thing. I fancy if he had said it was the interest that he objected to he would have been nearer the truth: twenty-five per cent. certainly does come heavy. To bear means to support or carry or endure (physically and figuratively). Who can carry heavy things and endure long stretches of extreme weather without food? Bears. It is very easy to endure the difficulties of one's enemies. It is the successes of one's friends that are hard to bear. (Oscar Wilde)

Bare means to expose something. A wolf might bare its teeth in a threatening display, for instance, or a man might bare his chest when he goes swimming. Hard to Bear illuminates the science and numbers, collects a wide range of experiences and suggests how the experience of pregnancy loss might be made less painful. It is a work for and about the 150,000 Australian families affected each year by miscarriage. Powered by anger against injustice and cruelty and the hope of limiting suffering, its method is inclusive. Oderberg believes “we can fix this” and she aims to “forge a pathway for better care in early pregnancy loss”. Is it too much to bear or bare? Too much to bear means something one cannot endure because it is excessive. Too much to bare is a common mistake based on the homophones bare and bear. FOR TODAY’s sermon I have selected this wonderful essay by Jerome K. Jerome from 1886. Its title is “On being hard up”, and in it he reflects on petty miseries of being skint. I can speak with authority on the subject of being hard up. I have been a provincial actor. If further evidence be required, which I do not think likely, I can add that I have been a “gentleman connected with the press.” I have lived on 15 shilling a week. I have lived a week on 10, owing the other 5; and I have lived for a fortnight on a great-coat.Too much to bear vs. Too much to bare: Remember that bear means to carry or endure as a verb, so substitute too much to endure in your mind when want to use this phrase as a reminder to use bear instead of bare. Therefore, too much to bare has an entirely different literal meaning than too much to bear. It would refer to excessive exposure rather than excessive burdens. However, when talking about birth, the alternative participle born is used (as an adjective or in a passive sentence). For example:

The correct word in this instance is bear: I can’t bear it, or bear with me. But how can you remember that? Bear and bare are homophones: words that sound the same but mean different things and are spelled differently. Most people don’t have a problem using these words when speaking, but writing them down creates a new set of problems. What Oderberg “aims to deliver”, she does. It can’t have been easy to write. This carefully researched, rich resource has the capacity to bring change. For those who have experienced miscarriage, it is consolatory and attentive. For those who love and care for them, it is practical and supportive. Hard to Bear is a furious, insistent and tender work. If you can never remember whether to write bear with me or bare with me; if you can’t tell the difference between I can’t bear it or I can’t bare it, then you’re not alone. Hard to Bear is a work of witness, advocacy and hope. It originates from Isabelle Oderberg’s experience of being told by an obstetrician, during her sixth miscarriage, that if women were better educated about pregnancy loss, she “wouldn’t be crying about it”. Bleeding and cramping as the doctor waves aside her grief, Oderberg still finds a gift in his dismissal – a fervent and furious flame: “the desire to write this book”.The actress looked at her new evening gown in the mirror and thought, “that is too much to bare at the Oscars.” Some medical language could use an upgrade. Wearing the label “elderly primigravida” doesn’t make anyone envisage a thriving prospect, and I wonder whether a cervix – however wonderful – has sufficient intention to be deemed incompetent. On the other hand, when Oderberg wrote an article titled “The ‘ugly’ side of pregnancy loss is the part we most need to see”, the word “clot” was edited out. Latinate and figurative language obfuscates and tidies up experience, while a blunt noun can reveal it. I should like to know, too, by what mysterious law of nature it is that before you have left your watch “to be repaired” half an hour, some one is sure to stop you in the street and conspicuously ask you the time. Nobody even feels the slightest curiosity on the subject when you’ve got it on.

These words can even change the meanings of entire phrases when used incorrectly. The difference between too much to bear and too much to bare comes down to a simple spelling error, but the meanings of each phrase are entirely different. What is the Difference Between Too Much to Bear and Too Much to Bare? Homophones are words that mean two different things, even though they sound the same when spoken aloud. English has many homophones, like hare and hair, wear and ware, and bear and bare. Writers are very familiar with bear meaning a large mammal (e.g., grizzly bear). However, the word bear as many meanings. When they encounter these other meanings, some writers are attracted to bare because they know that bear denotes the large mammal. Well, unless you mean exposed or naked (i.e., bare), then bear is correct. Oderberg begins with her own history, because she can write about her own experience directly and ethically. Her reproductive history creates a narrative line through Hard to Bear, extending outwards like a cantilever to provide space for the vast chorus of other voices she assembles. Her frank account continually expands to include other observations, many of them counterpointing or offering a different angle from her own. There is often confusion over the words bear and bare. This confusion arises because, knowing a bear is a large mammal (e.g., a brown bear), writers feel uncomfortable using bear in its other meanings. In fact, the word bear is a very versatile word. Here are common expressions with bear:I will discuss the differences between too much to bare vs. too much to bear in this article. I will also use each of these phrases in a few example sentences, so you can see them in context. If you are using the fixed phrase to refer to an excessive burden, always use too much to bear. Too much to bare is usually a mistake based on the homophones bare and bear. Choice is great in theory, but just because services exist doesn’t mean access is equal. And if access isn’t equal, the idea of choice is a fallacy.’

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