Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just stop talking

It's no secret that I've avoided other people since Lydia died.  I remind myself constantly that people have good intentions, that they mean well. Rationally, I know this, and I understand people don't know what to say, although I'm unsure of why they can't just leave it at: "I'm so sorry," without giving me their personal opinions about heaven or God or telling me about how their sister had several miscarriages, but it's okay because then she had three healthy children.

I will people to just stop talking on a regular basis. 

It's getting worse, as this Bowie bump grows.

Yesterday, after walking into a meeting with one coworker who told me all about his new baby at home (I literally said nothing in reply... because what am I going to say?  "Oh really?  That's nice.  My daughter should be 8 months old but instead she's dead, and I wonder about 15 times a day if this baby is dead too."? Nothing seemed like the best option.)  

Less than three minutes later, a colleague who apparently never heard the news said to me, "Heather, weren't you just pregnant a year ago?"  She said it with a laugh. 

"Yes," I responded.  "My daughter died."

That's a real conversation stopper, which sometimes, is just fine by me. 

People seem to think women's pregnancies are fair game for conversation.  That every pregnant woman must want to gush about gender and due dates and tiny little onesies and hear everyone else's stories of labor and breastfeeding.

I avoid eye contact a lot, hoping if I don't look friendly, they will leave me alone.  But inevitably, as I'm washing my hands in the public bathroom, women will ask, "When are you due?"

"Hopefully she'll be here in October," has become my automatic response, and I get a lot of weird looks, considering they were expecting just a date.  You're not getting a date, lady.

The truth is, I don't want to talk about this pregnancy, unless you're willing to acknowledge the complexities of it.    I don't like making small talk about babies, because that is another reminder of all that I'm missing with Lydie and all that I'm terrified we'll never have with Bowie.

And I want to finish washing my hands and rush out of the bathroom before you ask me how many children I have.

My baby bump makes people think I want to sit around and talk about babies.  I don't.  I really, really, really don't.  I don't want to hear about how your daughter is pregnant with her third child or your four-month-old started rolling over or how you know someone who is also high-risk because she had preclampsia last time, but thank God the baby was fine. 

I especially don't want to talk to other pregnant women, to compare pregnancies, to bitch about how tired and sore we are.  You think you've been pregnant forever?  I have been pregnant the majority of the last three years, and I have one living child to show for it.  Don't complain to me about being pregnant.

A couple weeks ago, I was getting my blood drawn for my glucose test, and the lab tech was going on and on, complaining about how expensive pregnancy is.  For real, lady?  I said, "Well, I have lots of appointments because I'm high-risk," and I wanted her to ask me why I am high-risk.  I wanted to shock her, tell her my daughter died suddenly when I was 34 weeks pregnant, make her shut the hell up complaining about the cost of pregnancy.  But instead she just continued about how her husband said they should just have the baby at home so they didn't have hospital bills.  I finally interrupted, "Did she live?"  Huh?  she asked.  "Did your daughter live?"  I repeated.  Well, yeah, she said.  Well, mine died, I told her.  And again, conversation stopper. Thankfully.

Even a sonographer yesterday, who asked how I am holding up, told me she knows how I feel... because she was 39 weeks pregnant when her cousin's baby was stillborn.  And she had very high anxiety the rest of her pregnancy.

Yeah, she actually compared our experiences.

I'm also flabbergasted by how many people who do know our story tell me they know everything will be okay this time.  They just know it.  They are certain Bowie will be arrive alive.  These are people who know essentially nothing about stillbirth or cord accidents or Lydia's death.  And when they talk like that, instead of feeling reassured, I feel angry.  YOU DON'T KNOW.  Considering I don't want my doctors to make me promises - I do not want them from the general public either. 

Then there's all the comments about how I'm "almost there!"  You know who was almost here?  Lydie.  And at 30 weeks pregnant with Bowie, I'm still almost four weeks away from the point we lost Lydie.  Almost there doesn't comfort me.  Instead it makes me paranoid, anxious, scared.  Lydie was almost here.

I sound angry.  And I guess that I am. When I'm having these conversations - multiple times a day - I do a lot of nodding, a lot of keeping my mouth shut.  I wait to bitch to my husband or my closest BLM friends.  But each of these conversations, every one, increases my anxiety.  Makes me miss Lydia more.  Makes me worry about Bowie more.  Reminds me of how unlucky we've been.

I am much more comforted by the few people that acknowledge this pregnancy must be terrifying and I must miss Lydia tremendously and they are keeping our family in their thoughts and prayers and hope for good news for us.  Thank you to those people.



8 comments:

  1. Even my mom would tell me that everything would be okay this time, as though she were certain. I couldn't stand it. And especially when a friend had a second loss--it was like the most brutal proof of all that lightning doesn't strike just once, that anything could happen, that there are so many ways a baby can die before it's born. People mean well, but their naivete was like one more slap in the face.

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  2. Hi Heather- Your post just hit home with me in so many ways. I have been amazed at how absolutely inconsiderate and thoughtless people are. I had to write an angry Do's and Donts post this week after a completely thoughtless text from a close friend. I just can't believe the things I have heard from some people since I lost Nate. I, too just nod and keep my mouth shut. I also have avoided eye contact in hopes that people will not speak to me. I can only imagine how much worse this must get when you are pregnant. Thinking about you.

    Jane

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  3. When strangers would say something kind and thoughtful that didn't rub me the wrong way it would always give me pause and make me wonder if they had been through a loss. Now if I say something to a pregnant woman (and I do sometimes - it's not as hard as it used to be) I am sure to choose my words carefully. Especially because I don't know their history.

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  4. God bless you for shutting other people up with the truth. At least from now on they won't have ignorance as an excuse to believe it's okay to treat a pregnant woman as a conversation piece instead of a complex, unique, and sensitive individual. I've long had a policy not to comment on a woman's pregnancy, ever, unless she brings it up, and that's gotten even more so since I've been through recurrent miscarriages and have met BLMs. I can't even repeat some of the ignorant things I've heard. It makes sense that you feel angry right now. Anger is a protective emotion, and you are at ground zero of reminders of the trauma of losing Lydie, so it makes sense that the last thing you'd want to be right now is complacent. Like so many of these other people yacking away seem to treat pregnancy and birth, with this blithe complacency. I wish you didn't have to know how scary this time is, and I feel angry that you do. I'm thinking of you during this terrifying time and I hope you and Bowie get through it one minute at a time

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  5. Oh man this one might be my favorite.

    As if my subsequent pregnancy wasn't difficult enough...I honestly did not want to leave the house in fear of all the questions/comments about my baby, due date, excitement, comfort level, nursery color scheme, etc...It was really, really hard and people seemed really, really intrusive. I have never, ever understood the "no limits" questioning allowed towards a pregnant woman. Even a complete stranger. Same goes for the "when are you going to have another's?" Even before I lost Josie, I could not wrap my head around that question. Oh do you mean, when-ish am I planning on having sex with my husband next? I just don't get it.

    People mean well, they really do. But there is something (in our society) about pregnancy that makes people feel entitled to answers they are not entitled to, and pregnancy after loss is no exception. I kind of wish we were more open to discussing the loss component and less so the other stuff. Maybe then we would feel more comfortable parading our pregnant bellies around, when we are feeling increasingly vulnerable and terrified with each passing day. I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, Heather. I'm glad you are being honest and I hope that you are teaching those around you how to be more compassionate and publicly appropriate.

    Thinking of you and Bowie and Lydie all the time.

    ~Nora

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  6. My mom was the worst offender when I was pregnant with Benjamin and Claire. She just KNEW everything would be alright, like you said. I kept telling her that her promises were useless, invalid and insulting (because aren't they in turn diminishing the REAL fear and REAL death of Lydie and Andrew in saying those bullshit comments)? Like you said, it's actually NOT helpful to tell me everything will be alright. It's more helpful to listen and try to understand and keep it real.

    It's a human nature sort of reason I believe and people do mean well, but the bottom line is that they are wrong and terrible things can and do happen and can and do happen to the same people.

    People. Just say "I'm so sorry." That is all. Nothing else. NOTHING. ELSE.

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  7. I second what Caroline said. I had a few rare instances where someone who didn't know my story would say "I hope you have a healthy baby." I was so grateful for those people.

    But most people were terrible to talk to. I had people warning me how difficult it would be with two (um, not nearly as difficult as losing a baby). And I had people talking about how much faster it goes with the second or third pregnancy (nope). And I had family members telling me that this baby would be okay because they were praying (Did they not pray for Genevieve?).

    All I can say is that when Henry was born, the joy was huge. I can't compare it to any other event in my life. I am wishing the same for you.

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  8. It's stuff like this that makes me wonder if I really do want to be pregnant again. Right now, I'm suffering the barrage of 'so are you going to have another' questions that just make me want to scream. And I'm not talking about strangers. I'm talking about people who know our story. They'll even push and go so far as to say 'it's not fair to leave N an only child'. Scream. Like this is easy for me?? People never cease to shock me with their insensitivity and stupidity. Heather, I can only imagine how you must be feeling as you approach the week you lost Lydie. And i know that it won't get easer when you get past that week. I know you won't stop holding your breath till Bowie is here. And when she is born, I know the worry won't end there. But I hope the joy that is due to you will make every panicked hospital trip and every stupid comment worth it.

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