Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Congrats, Your Baby Died

i meant to blog about this while i was pregnant with miles,
but i never got around to it.

i noticed, while i was pregnant with miles, that apparently in our culture being pregnant is a light and easy conversation topic.

oh, you're pregnant! congratulations!

how far along are you?

is this your first?

i noticed this starkly as i wandered target one day and upon seeing my pregnant belly a complete stranger exclaimed, congrats!!

now i don't mean to sound ungrateful or just plain grumpy, because it was very sweet of her to say, but i couldn't help but wonder why this was hard for me to hear. while i was pregnant the first time with noah, i ate up these congrats and questions about the baby. why was it now rubbing me the wrong way?

but my experience with noah and baby isaac radically changed my view of pregnancy.

most pregnant women are carrying a healthy baby. most. but what about the woman who just went to the doctor to discover her 28 week old baby no longer has a heartbeat? this pregnant woman will continue to carry her child for possibly days or weeks before they induce labor. how would a congrats from a stranger feel to her? congrats on what? congrats, your baby died?

most pregnant women are carrying a baby who they will raise themselves. most. but what about the woman who has decided to make an adoption plan for her child? how difficult that must be to field questions about a baby who you may never get to know, but only have dreams for.

most pregnant women are carrying a baby who lands in a specific, straight forward sibling order. most. but for some of us, there is a gaping hole in our family. i had the hardest time answering the, is this your first baby question. because if i said, no, there would be difficult follow up questions and comments that i usually didn't have the emotional bandwidth to manage. oh, fun! how many? how old are they? you'll have your hands full with 3 boys!

but if i answered, yes, that would be a lie.

side note:  i'm so jealous of moms who can, with ease and seemingly no thought at all, answer the question, how many kids do you have?

oh, madeline is 8 and then i have emily who is 6 and little nicholas is 3. 

if only the general population knew how much time we spend in my support group stressing and discussing how to answer that simple little question, and how much guilt is associated with it. it's remarkable and something i never, ever even had to think about 16 months ago.

in closing, i'm not saying we should never engage in conversation with a pregnant woman, or to just mind our own business. but let's just not assume anything. and let's always lead with sensitivity and grace.

that's all.

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