Monday, August 22, 2005

I keep thinking about something Catherine posted a while back about feeling like Typhoid Mary in front of pregnant women. It's so true, and I really hate it.

This weekend I was at a birthday party for the 1-year-old daughter of a college friend. I was hanging out in the den with a group of people I went to school with, and because one of them is 37 weeks pregnant, the conversation naturally was revolving around pregnancy.

When people talk about being pregnant, it feels natural to me to be part of the conversation. My pregnancy with J. was textbook, so when people talk about, say, swollen ankles or having trouble sleeping or feeling a baby kick, I can relate to all of that, and I join in. I don't talk about J.'s death or anything. So I was feeling OK, and then another woman we didn't know, a cousin of the woman throwing the party, wandered in. She was hugely pregnant (she said she was due this coming Friday), so she and the other pregnant woman started talking about it, and it turned out they go to the same doctor.

This reminded me that someone had recommended an OB at Mass General Hospital that I might want to think about seeing next time. I knew that Jess, my pregnant college friend, also goes to this OB, so I asked if she liked him. She told me she did, and I started to say "Thanks, I was thinking I might go to him next time" -- and then I stopped myself. It occurred to me that this other pregnant woman, who didn't know me, might say, "Oh, when did you have your first?" And then I'd have to tell her that he died. I doubted she would want to hear that five days before her due date. So I shut up.

But it sucked, realizing that for the rest of my life, I can't talk to people about the most important thing that's ever happened to me. And it made me wonder if even people who know me think it's weird that I join in conversations about pregnancy and babies as though J. were alive. I'm not pretending that he is -- I'm just NOT pretending that he never existed. But then I think, did my being in that conversation earlier serve as a painful reminder to Jess that I had a perfect pregnancy just like she's having, and that she could still lose her own baby? I don't want to make other people uncomfortable, either. I don't know how I should act. Am I a mom, or not?


At Monday, August 22, 2005 2:08:00 PM, Blogger Mrs.X said...

You are most certainly a mom. Please, don't ever doubt that. You have all the right in the world to weigh in on pregnancy matters and I truly believe that you have good advice to offer.
I'm sorry you've felt that way.

At Monday, August 22, 2005 6:26:00 PM, Blogger gabesmama said...

You are a mom. The more time passes the more you will feel OK with being the mother of an angel. But I feel the same way. I experienced the same thing, but I feel as if I might freak pregnant women out if I talk about labor. What am I going to say about kicks and such, "Oh, Gabe started to move less at the end, but then he died." It is a horrible place to be in because we can not comfortably share the most important event in our lives. But it sounds like you held your own and aren't put off by being around pregnant women which is awesome.

At Monday, August 22, 2005 9:15:00 PM, Blogger Julie said...

You are definately a mom. Just because J is not here with you, does NOT mean that he doesn't and didn't exist.

I don't see anything wrong with participating in pregnancy comversations. There are times when I am hesitant to mention him because frankly, I don't want their "you poor thing" looks. And then there are times when I will not bite my tongue. It gets easier to decide when you talk about our pregnancies and when not to. It's one of the things you will learn how to do. The worst part about all of it is the guilt when you DON'T mention them. I have been asked how many kids I have over and over, sometimes I say 1 and sometimes I say 2. The times I say 1 is just because I don't want to explain myself, but then I feel like I betrayed Caleb by not mentioning him. I hate that you have all of these new things to learn. I wish J was here with you.

At Tuesday, August 23, 2005 8:17:00 AM, Blogger lauralu said...

at this point, pretty much everyone in the known universe knows about my son's stillbirth, so i don't worry about that any more. what gets me, as i have recently blogged, is when someone forgets that i already know what pregnancy is like, as though because i am not toting around a baby on my hip, i must not have really been pregnant.

but i'm working on not letting it get to me. getting all judgmental on people just invites other people to do the same to me, and i don't need that. plus, the bottom line is if you haven't had a loss, you will never fully get it. if we expect loss-free mothers to get it, we will always be disappointed.

At Tuesday, August 23, 2005 9:08:00 AM, Blogger Catherine said...

Are you a mom? Yes. Are you Typhoid Mary? No. It's not contagious. But you are an incredibly caring woman for stepping out of a conversation that might make another pregnant woman uncomfortable. I admire that and I'm going to remember that when I'm questioning how to behave or react to a pregnant woman. One of the "bad" things about this situation is that you can easily get sucked into thinking it's all about you...talking about anything and everything without regard for other people and how they might feel. You're doing an amazing job balancing your need to talk about your son with your empathy for others. I'm sure that mom would be grateful that you didn't discuss your son's death when she's five days away from her due date. I think that's a lovely of those kind acts that may go unnoticed by others.

At Tuesday, August 23, 2005 6:33:00 PM, Blogger vixanne wigg said...

See...this is why I'm a bitch. Catherine is right that it's hard not to make it all about you. I do. Why should you not be able to talk about your pregnancy and your loss because it makes other people uncomfortable? They are lucky in that they will probably not experience what you did. Why should you not be able to share your experiences with them just because it will scare them?

That said...I often do not share that information with people I don't know well, but that's because like Julie said, I don't like the pity.

You are a very nice person to think of others in that way.


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