Missing our baby boy

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh, The Things People Say...

As I look back on my first blog, I realized it was terribly lacking in something. The true, horrid emotions that were going on at that time. The invisible fist that was gripping my heart and squeezing to the point of stabbing pain. The constant state of not being able to breathe and fighting for air just to scream. The denial, which I lived with for a while and was my friend…and the reality, which would intrude on the denial and had the power to shatter me into a million sharp pieces repeatedly until I just wanted to wither and die.

For as many holes I have in my memory from that time, I remember some things with startling clarity. How it felt when I heard no heart beat. My mind screaming that they had to be wrong. The gratefulness of the pain after surgery, for the slight distraction it provided. And, the looks I got. I hated those looks. The polite inquires as to how I was doing, made with eyes filled with sadness and pity. I hated that. Really hated that.

Everyone knew. I hated that, too. In small town life, it’s asking too much to be invisible, but I wanted to be. I wanted to go to the store, get my stuff and get out before I got the look. It never happened. Not once. Not at the bank, gas station, school or restaurant. Everywhere I went I got the look. I felt like a circus freak on top of my pain and confusion. It was constantly nerve wracking.

And the things people said to me…I’d joined an online loss support group, so I thought I was prepared. I was wrong. Horrible comments combined with the look made me a hermit for a few months. It was almost impossible for me to leave my house.
I’ve mentally compiled answers to each thing that was said to me – since I spent so much time at home, my mind went over it a lot. What would I say if I could have those conversations again?

“Be grateful – now you have an Angel looking over you.”

Well, guess what? I had a baby, not an Angel. I want my baby. I’m not grateful for an Angel…thanks, though.

“You can have another one someday.”

I wanted the one I had. I’m not looking to replace him. Ever.

“That’s just too bad.”

Yeah, I was a little bummed, too.

“It was God’s will.”

Seriously? Your God can kiss my ass. I want nothing to do with a deity who wills this on anyone.

“You should feel lucky you still have the one you have.”

Lucky am I? So that’s what I’ve been feeling…and here, I thought it was devastation and grief. Thank you so much for straightening that out for me.

“That’s too bad. After all that hard work, too.”

It’s like we were building a house that burned down or something. This isn’t just “Oh, drat. What a bummer.” I told myself she was either drunk, or sobering up and not in control of herself. It made me feel a little better – my thoughts, not her comments.

“You seem like you’re doing just fine.”

Yes. I’m up for the Best Actress at the Golden Globes next month. Be sure to tune in. (Maybe I’m in the wrong profession…)

“Isn’t nature weird like that? Maybe he wasn’t normal – like what if he had Down Syndrome or became a serial killer or something?”

Yes, unfortunately that was said to my face. With enthusiasm. I understand where she was going with this, but this was not the way to cheer me. I took pity on her and let it slide because she was young and never had a child. Still, she should really come with a warning label or something. Preferably on her forehead or mouth. Preferably with a plastic bag on top of that – a silencer of sorts.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways. It’s not our job to ask why.”

Thanks for the tip. Takes a load off my mind, really.

“Do you mind if I pray over you?”

Uh, can I put the lettuce in my cart first? The grocery store is a tad inappropriate for this kind of thing…and don’t you have a door to go knocking on? Pamphlets to give out? Orphans to rescue? Or, at the very least, someone else to smear weirdness over? Hey, there’s someone I know….excuse me. No, please don’t follow me. Stop chanting, you’re freaking my son out. Is there a cop around?

One of my favorites…

“It’s best it happened sooner rather than later. At least you didn’t get to know him.”

First of all, it almost goes without saying that the older your child is, the harder it would be to loose them. No parent should have to outlive their child – it goes against nature, so don’t tell me what’s best because you really don’t know shit about it. I spent nine months getting to know him. Nine months of planning our lives together as a family, each day dreaming of how it would be. Nine months of wondering what he would look like, curious about his disposition, wondering if he would he take after me or John. Each second of every day consumed with thoughts of the moment that we would bring him home. His room was ready. His clothes were there. We had a breastfeeding plan, diaper bags stuffed with necessities and a bigger car to accommodate our growing family.

The moment I saw his face, I got all of the answers I was going to get and no more. I wouldn’t ever hear his laugh, see his eyes open, soothe his tears or hear him call me “Mommy”. Never. I won’t see him grow tall like I imagined. He won’t wrestle with his big brother, snuggle with me on Saturday mornings or squeal with laughter when I tickle him.

From the instant I knew I carried him, I was his mother in every sense that one can be a mother. I knew him while he was growing inside of me, before he was born. I knew him better than anyone. I loved him more than anything.
That might not sound like much to you, but I don’t really care what you think. Nine months was a lifetime for us, and all the memories I have.

Thanks for shitting on them. Have a nice day.

I really wish I were making those up.

In case you didn’t pick up on it, sarcasm is my defense. These people are lucky I was in the state I was at the time – they would have heard these answers, believe me.
On a serious note, the best thing anyone did for me was tell me they were sorry for my loss and let me cry. I did have a woman approach me at the grocery store, look me right in the eye and said, “I’m so sorry your baby died.” Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. I appreciated her frankness and honesty. It was refreshing. No pity looks, no small talk until she could get around to asking questions, just direct truth. Then she kept walking, which made it a little weird but kept true to the direct no-nonsense statement she just threw my way. I think I actually smiled a bit on the inside for a moment.

I think finding what to say to someone like us is hard. No, let me rephrase. I think finding the appropriate thing to say to someone like us is hard. Sometimes people just don’t think.

I had a very good friend lose her baby recently. Different situation, same outcome…we both came home without our sons. Before, I thought I would know what to say to someone like us if the moment ever came and I needed to. Turns out I really didn’t. I did, however, know what not to say. The above list, for starters. I knew not to push. I knew she needed space, and not to pry. My door and phone lines were always open. And, I told her I was sorry…so very sorry for her loss. I cried for her a few times – especially when I thought back on what I went through. No one should have to walk that road.

I’m glad I’m at a point where I can talk – or write, in this case – about some of this. It shows me I’ve come far. And I can joke about it, in a dark way. Nothing about my situation is funny, but I really would say those things given the chance again. That and more. I would LOVE to unload on some of these people. Some were just flat out stupid.

A kind elderly lady, whom I’ve known my whole life, sent my son a birthday card. It said, “Happy 9th Birthday! Hope all of your wishes come true!” On the inside, she wrote, “Sorry the baby died.”

She meant well. I know she did. Still…ugh. Reminders everywhere. I chalked it up to old people are cheap and she didn’t want to spring on a sympathy card, so she combined two in one. Good choice.

I hope you read this with a grain of salt. I wrote it with one…and a shot of tequila and wedge of lime. Ba-dum-chick. I know, I know, that was awful. After morbid humor comes bad humor, and after that comes good, and with good comes the knowledge that I’m slowly getting better. Please hang in there with me until I get to the good. The jokes will get better...I hope ;-)


  1. I hope this post released tons of supressed emotions for you & that you feel a sense a release. Each one of my posts help me on my healing path. You are quite the hidden blogger aren't you? :) Glad you are here (wish you didn't have to be) & look forward to future posts.

  2. Actually, it did feel pretty good. I have a lot of hidden anger regarding some of the things people have said (with good intent, I'm sure).
    Thanks for your support, Malory. If all I can do is get myself to a place to help others behind me as you have, I'll be happy. Thank you so much for everything you do...for all of us.