“Is this your first baby?” and inquisitive cashier innocently asks while peering at my 8 1/2 month pregnant belly as she rings me up. I pause before I answer as my stomach does a quick somersault in to my throat.
When I smile politely and say yes to try to abruptly end the conversation I feel like a liar.
When I smile politely and say no it’s my second I have a daughter at home I feel like a liar.
When I smile politely and say no this is my second child and try to leave it at that I feel like a liar.
Sometimes it is life’s most simple questions that require us to produce the most difficult answers.
What I really would love to say is that I am currently pregnant for the fourth time and with my second son. The baby in my body will be my second biological child born and my third child in total. My answer really should be : “oh no this is my third child. I have a 5 month old daughter and a son in heaven”, but who has the time to explain that to complete strangers?
I also feel there is so much shock value in that statement that it is almost this “drops mic walks away” kind of moment.
I so desperately want to honor all of my babies, but don’t feel the need to be an open book with every well-intentioned stranger that crosses my path on the daily.
Every time the question gets broached (which is increasing more and more as i get further along) I get more uneasy with how I answer. It is a constant and consistent reminder of the loss of my first child. I also wonder how deeply to delve in to my daughter’s adoption as it will one day be her story to tell and not mine.
Deep breath. Sigh.
I wrote this in January 2012…8 months after the stillbirth of my son. It has never seen the light of day until now… In honor of my due date of October 15th I wanted to share.
“We are proud that Enfamil is the number one infant formula recommended by pediatricians please stay on the line and you will be connected to an Enfamil expert. “Press one to learn more about our wide range of formula’s to reach your baby’s changing nutritional needs.”
For older children…
WHEN DOES IT STOP?
After what seemed like the longest 2 minutes and 53 seconds I’ve ever experienced the only answer I got was a recording. “We’re sorry, but no one is available right now to answer your questions.” Of course they aren’t. God hasn’t even been available to answer my questions so why in high heavens was I hoping to find respite from heartbreak in a toll-free number?
See these are the finer details about pregnancy and infancy loss that go unmentioned. After the condolence cards and flowers stop and people move on in their lives and no longer ask you how you are doing; there you are, watching your favorite reality show and BAM a P&G Proud Sponsor of Moms ad comes on and takes you back to the exact moment you found out you were going to be a mother.
Eight months, seventeen days and a handful of hours after giving birth to my son 23 weeks early I finally had enough emotional strength to call the lauded baby formula conglomerate and kindly ask them to stop rubbing salt in my open wound by removing me from their mailing list. My once joyous trip to the mailbox like has become Russian roulette with my snail mail. Was I going to get the new issue of Marie Claire or was Cord Blood Registry going to be selling me on the virtues of saving my baby’s umbilical cord?
Had my son not been taken from me before he even took his first breath I’d have a 12-week-old. My infrequent trips to the mailbox remind me of that. While the pregnancy magazines and baby’s first portrait mailers have subsided the permanent scar on my heart has no return to sender address.
WHEN DOES IT STOP?
I’m no expert but I don’t believe a mother’s love can or ever will stop. It’s painful because we loved. Things do get easier with time. I’m genuinely happy for my pregnant friends, I can interact with little blonde hair blued eyed boys without feeling like I want to vomit and I smile when think about my angel instead of curling up in the fetal position to sob. But man, there hasn’t been a single day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about my son.
One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of my experience is that I am far from alone. Come to find out, I am just another notch on the second trimester loss totem pole. One-by-one friends and acquaintances have reached out to share their all-to-familiar horror stories. The idea that they may have suffered in silence makes me want to shout my experience from the social media rooftop. Pregnancy and infant loss is still taboo. Death makes people uncomfortable, especially the death of a child.
WHEN WILL IT STOP?
“Make your mess your message”. – Robin Roberts
So It’s been months since my last post because I’ve been living my life between positive pregnancy tests. Since May, my husband and I have moved from Los Angeles to Florida, bought a home and have began our bicostal lifestyle of three weeks in Florida and one in California. I am back and plan on regularly chronicling my journey towards a healthy and successful pregnancy.
In July, I watched breast cancer survivor and news anchor Robin Roberts give a moving speech during the 2013 ESPYS that resonated with me. A quote of her’s that has stuck with me since is “make your mess, your message”. It brought tears to my eyes as I realized that I have been fearful to do exactly that. Three pregnancy losses and inching closer to beginning my first round of IVF I rarely, if ever, share my personal journey of infertility. At 32 I have not wanted to make loss my story. I have not wanted to have unexplained infertility define me. In fear of doing either I have decidedly remained mum to most about my experiences.
I have come to realize that my fearful silence is not helping, but only hurting, the wonderful community of women who have been dealt the same cards I have. In my vocal paralysis I am a contributor to the overall lack of awareness and knowledge the general public has about pregnancy loss and infertility. As most women and couples in my situation I have had some downright ignorant things said to me by those who know nothing or very little of my circumstances. I’ve been called selfish for not having children and I’ve been told to not waste my perfect genes and have children already. For those in the know the tried and true “relax”, “take a vacation” and “stop trying so hard” have all been unsolicited pieces of advice ignorantly offered up.
So while you won’t find me shouting from the rooftops that I’ve been unsuccessful in carrying a pregnancy to term, I do plan on being more open about it. Today’s post is my first step. 🙂