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)
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 :)