April 5, 2011

A {little} Rant

Yesterday I ran into someone I know (not very well) who was with a friend (who I did not know). The person I know (and don't care for too much) is aware that we had lost a child, but not of much else in our current lives. This how the conversation went (Person A is the person I know, Person B is his friend):

Person A: Well congrats on your bundle of joy (pointing at belly)
Me: Thanks.
Person B: Do you have any kids?
Me: (deep breath) No. (realize then he'll think this is my first), Well, our first passed away.
Person B: Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that.
Me: Thank you
Person A: Yeah how is everything. . . .well, are you passed the. . . well are you at the "safe point?"
Me: (oh you idiot) Well, it's pretty scary since our last died nine days before his due date, so the "safe point" for me isn't really until I'm holding him and know he's OK, but so far everything is going well.
Person A: Yeah that makes sense
Person B: Well if it helps, my sister had three miscarriages before having her three kids, so there is hope.
Me: Yeah, that's good. (I didn't have a miscarriage . . .apples and oranges buddy )

And I went to the dentist not long ago and had this conversation (for a second time):

Dentist: So is this your first?
Me: No (I told you this last time, but I get it, you see a lot of patients)
Dentist: Oh so is there a big brother or sister at home?
Me: (here we go again) Umm, well no, my first passed away.
Dentist: Oh that's right, you told me that.
Me: (yes, yes I did.)

Conversations like these are hard. They are hard because I don't always say what I am thinking and sometimes wish I would. But at the same time I understand that people don't understand and so they are bound to say things that are unintentionally hurtful. Other comments that are hurtful include "when you are a mom." I am a mom. I may not be a parent. I may not have a child that I am raising and parenting right now, but I am a mom. I carried a child for nine months and gave birth to him, held him, kissed him and above all else still love him.

My friend Erica is expecting her first baby and is so sweet and makes me feel like my opinion matters - as a mom and as a woman who has already been through pregnancy. She continually asks for my opinion on things from what lotion to use to what kinds of things I registered for. And it means so much to feel like it's OK to have an opinion and one that she genuinely wants to hear. I was telling her that sometimes I feel like such an outsider in the Mommy world. Because I am. I understand that, but it doesn't mean it isn't hard. I hear people talk about things like what kind of stroller they own and part of me wants to say "yeah I have that too" but I can't offer insight as to how it works or how my baby likes it. I can only say I'm pleased with the color or it is easy to assemble.

I feel like sometimes our experiences are devalued or minimized because of the way it turned out. People tell Miles about labor and delivery as if he's never experienced it. One of the most poignant comments Miles made to me after Cale was born was "despite how sad it was knowing how it would turn out, watching you give birth to our son was still such a beautiful thing." That meant SO much to me. And it reminds me that it still was an incredible experience. We experienced the birth of our first child. And while we may not have had the euphoric happiness that should be associated with the birth of a child, it doesn't mean we are new to all of this either.

OK, rant complete. . . . for now :)

8 comments:

  1. I always enjoy reading your thoughts, as it reminds me that, sadly, there is someone out there that understands exactly how I feel. I often have feelings of isolation from the parenting world and I have never zeroed in on why quite like you just did.

    It is awkward when people ask these questions about our children, but it is especially painful when they aren't even listening to the response. I was working a fundraiser the other morning and another volunteer asked me if this was my first child. I explained that no, it is my second, (she asked the first child's age) and that our first would have been six months old, but he died during labor. Without missing a beat, the women suggested that I buy a few gifts for the first child and hide them, so that when others come over with gifts for the baby, the older child doesn't get jealous.

    I just sadly sighed and said that sounds like a good idea. I wish I said what I was really thinking...I realize she was trying to be helpful, but it would have been more helpful to me if she actually listened to the answer she asked for.

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  2. grrrr. i had a similar experience last week. i can't stand it when people devalue their lives, as if it wasn't a true death. It seriously makes me nuts!

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  3. Wow! People never cease to amaze me with their comments and not thinking before they speak!
    I like it (sacarstically) how people can always compare theirs or someone they know to ours...they really have no idea!
    You handled it with grace and if it were me it might have been a punch to the face! :)
    You are a blessing to many and don't you forget that mama to two beautiful lil men!!!
    xoxoxo

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  4. Yes, the unintentional ignorance is always delightful to deal with. Sarcasm for sure.

    I love that your friend Erica talks to you like you have pregnancy experience and expertise, because you do. It's nice to feel important because honestly, no one has (yet) asked me for advice in pregnancy... because, you know... my baby died so I must have done something wrong. Okay, I don't really think they are thinking that and instead are probably trying to avoid the topic as not to upset me. But I agree with you. I like talking about my experiences while "in the circle" before we were suddenly kicked out. I blogged once about being kicked out of the club. The door being shut and having no expertise from the outsider's perspective.

    Way to set those people straight. :)

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  5. Gotta love these conversations. A friend called me the other day to tell me about a woman who just moved to the area who is "pregnant with her first, too" and wants me to reach out to her so we can "go through it together"...ummm, let me think about that for a second...no thanks! It would have been nice to have been able to zap her through the phone ;)

    I love what Miles said to you. What a sweet and proud Daddy!

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  6. Caroline,
    I'm so sorry you have to deal with people like that--people mean well but don't always convey the good intentions (just their stupidity, haha). I was crying as I read your latest blog posts (the hormones don't exactly go away I guess!) It must be so incredibly difficult, I can't even imagine, yet you handled it (like your friend above said) with such grace. I wish you all the best and all the happiness in the world! You're a great momma already :) Your son is in excellent hands!

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  7. Okay, let me just say that if you were here, I'd give you a big hug and say AMEN SISTER! The hug isn't because I feel sorry for you, but because I'm so proud of you and how you're dealing with these uncomfortable situations.

    I do feel sorry that anyone has to ever deal with insensitivity like that. Unfortunately (for us), most people just don't "get it."

    A lady at my doctors office (the same place I went during my pregnancy with Caroline) asked me if this was my first. She's not someone that normally works out front at the desk, and I know she was just trying to be nice, and I know that they see pregnant women all day every day, blah blah blah...but still...

    And, my husband said something similar to me after the birth of our girl (which I thought was so sweet). He also whispered one more thing, and it really stuck with me. He told me that she was proud of her Momma too. And I KNOW that Cale is proud of his wonderful Momma!

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