Thursday, September 22, 2011

You are my first.

Dear Stevie,
Now that I am starting to look more obviously "with child," I've been faced with the question I have been dreading since the day I found out I was pregnant with little E: "is this your first?"

I usually deal with this question in one of two ways.

1) I simply smile and nod. This is my response when the question is coming from someone I do not know at all, and will likely never see again. Take, for example, the 17-year old girl ringing up my toothpaste, goldfish crackers, and toilet paper at Target. I mean, what's the point of explaining the whole sad story to some girl I have no connection to whatsoever? All that's going to do is make things really awkward and quite possibly ruin her day. I always feel a little bit like I'm lying in these situations, but I don't really feel guilty about it. It's kind of like when a stranger says, "how are you doing?" and you say, "fine, thanks," even though you're having a really crappy day.

2) I say "no, we actually lost our first baby late in the second trimester." This is how I answer the question when its coming from someone I do have at least some sort of relationship with. Coworkers, friends of friends, those sorts of people (and sometimes, depending on how chatty they are and how much I think they are going to pry for details, people like hair stylists make it into this category as well). Of course, when I tell people that I lost a baby, it always turns into a longer conversation. People want to know why, how, when. They usually react with shock and pity, but 99% of the time, they end up being really, really nice and understanding. More often than not, they go onto to tell me about their daughter/cousin/sister/great aunt who had a stillbirth and then later had a healthy baby (or two or three or four). I actually enjoy telling people about you, my first little girl. I like having the opportunity to say your name and tell your story.

So when straight-up asked the question, I have no problem figuring out what to say (or what not to say). My problem comes when people just assume 'E' is my first without even asking.

Because I'm young (and am obviously never seen out and about with living children in tow!), most everyone that doesn't know me very well assumes this is my first pregnancy, my first child. For example, it came up in a meeting with a bunch of work people that I don't interact with on a very regular basis (they work from a different office), that I was pregnant. Everyone started saying "oh my gosh! Congrats! You must be so excited! How are you feeling?" When I said, "oh, I've been feeling pretty sick," one of the ladies was like, "don't worry, it will get better once you're in the second trimester." How do I respond? What I want to say is, "I know, I've been pregnant before!" But at the same time, I almost feel bad ruining their fun and excitement by bringing up my history (especially in the middle of a meeting). It's just so awkward. It's easy to respond when people ask me, but I never know how to bring it up when they don't.

And then the worst is when people do know all about you and pretty much choose to pretend you never happened; like I was never pregnant. It's like because my baby didn't end up coming home with me, I was never six months pregnant, like I'm not qualified to share my experiences, like it didn't count.

This whole thing is just so complicated. Do you know how badly I wish my answer to the "is this your first" question could be "nope, I have a beautiful 15-month old little girl at home"? Man, I would give anything to be able to say that.

No matter how I respond on the outside, the way I feel inside never changes: you are my first. Always and forever.

I miss you so much,


Jessica said...

What an inspiring post - this has made me want to blog (I have been laying down sick all day) - I deal with these people all the time too. Most people I am around know and like you said the ones who ignore the loss of my children is the worst! (((hugs))) I will never forget Stevie! <3

April said...

Love <3

Deanna said...

I hated that question. I found a way to answer it too, that doesn't mean that it's easy. I take pride in saying I have two sons, even though one of them isn't here. I am still his mother, I think people forget that.

Sending you lots of love, and hope you are feeling better. We will always remember Stevie!

Leanne said...

I so wish you could respond about your 15 month old little girl at home, too. :) You are handling things beautifully!

Ausmerican Housewife said...

I get that a lot too. Depending on who the person is (or how inquisitive they are) I usually say something like "I have two, one of each already but they're waiting for us up in Heaven." Or "yes I have two but neither of them survived." You see the person's face shatter and sometimes I feel bad but sometimes I feel happy. I've made this person aware that not everyone comes home with their babies from the hospital.

Nika M. said...

I don't like the people that knew I was pregnant, that knew I had two babies, and that go out of their way to avoid talking about babies around me. I guess in their mind they are trying to do something nice, but it's so disheartening to hear the conversation completely stop, or to be completely cut out of a conversation.

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Samantha K said...

Wondeful post. I have struggled with the "do you have kids?" question so many times and hated lying and saying no. I wondered what it will be like when I am (hopefully) pregnant again. I will refer back to this post and know I am not alone.

chancingthedance said...

Thanks for writing this post. This has been one of the most difficult parts of this pregnancy. And like you, by far the hardest situations are those in which people just assume that this one is our first. We just moved to a new neighborhood, and since our neighbors don't see any little ones running around, they naturally assume. I can't fault them for it, but it sucks all the same. However, the worst moment was when the nurse at my OB's office (whom I had told about Lewy 3 times already!) referred to this baby as our first. Argh.

Rosalyn said...

There are many questions, concerns, anxieties that accompany a subsequent pregnancy. Have you considered attending A PREGNANCY AFTER A LOSS Support Group? There is one at United Hospital in St. Paul. It would be worth checking it out.

Catherine W said...

Always such an awful, awkward question. It must be very difficult when people just assume that E is your first.
As you say, it is worse when people who KNOW that this isn't your first pregnancy treat you as though it is. I found the same, that people didn't 'count' my pregnancy with the twins, even though one of them survived. Nobody wanted to hear about my experiences of pregnancy or birth and treated my subsequent pregnancy as though it were my first. It can be frustrating and painful.
Wish you had your first beautiful daughter at home with you xo

Franchesca said...

Love this post. to pieces. Yes a million times over, wish we could all say that. It is so so complicated, but you are handling all the difficulty and awkwardness with a lot of grace. Hope your sick days are becoming further and further apart. xxxx

Tiffany said...

the questions are so so hard. ((hugs))

Stefanie said...

Ah, the dreaded question. My heart goes out to you. Like everyone else has said, I love this post too. I have an daughter who is 3 and I get the, "is she your only child?" question. We sometimes have to protect our angels from the awkwardness that people feel towards their story. Stevie will never be forgotten about. Sending you ((hugs)).

Angie said...

Although I've gotten quite used to answering this question, it still bothers me when people ask. Even with strangers I've begun saying it's my second and when the inevitable follow up questions come, I just say I have a son who's one. Unless it's someone I know, then I go into details. xo

Caroline said...

<3 I wish there never was those questions for any of us. I have 4 children on earth & 3 in Heaven and I still have those questions.
Beautiful post

Tiffani said...

Hi, i'm from the August 2010 board. I started following your blog from the very beginning and i started slacking after a while. Anways, i saw your pregnancy pic on the DT just a few minutes ago, and i got soo excited!I am soo happy for you, and i cannot wait to tell my mom. I can remember being pregnant, and i was taking my dog on a walk while i was talking on the phone to my mom about what happened to Stevie, and i was just so so sad for you. My mom had the same thing happen to her twice (she wasn't as far a long as you were,she was about 12 weeks with both m/c's) But my mom found out that she had blod clots, which were causing her to m/c. Once the dr's figured out everything out, she got pregnant for the 3rd time, and had to inject the blood thinners twice a day. Now i have a happy and healthy 9 year old sister.
But i am just so stoaked for you. You and your husband are going to be amazing parents, and i wish you both the best! I can't wait to see pictures of baby E :)
Do you have a FB page?

mrsnice777 said...

I found your blog through Jessica. I'm so sorry for you loss of Stevie. ((hugz))

Congrats on your new little one!


rebecca said...

I also enjoyed the opportunity to tell Lily's story during my second pregnancy. I handled things about the same sharing her story with those I worked with and such. So excited for you as you enter the second trimester!

MK said...

I made the decision long before Zoey came along that if people asked me if she was my first, I'd tell them the truth. I feel like if you ask me the question, you'd better be prepared for the answer. It's not fair to me or my boys to have to hide the truth because it might hurt someone else. Still, it's hard. I say, "she's the first I'm lucky enough to bring home from the hospital" and I actually rehearsed it in the mirror for about 15 mintues.

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