I've been thinking about why I'm having difficulty blogging and I think it's because I wanted to start with the daunting task of recounting our first loss with Ian. It's so long and heart breaking and I just can't get started. I've been given feedback from a good friend about how this blog has helped her deal with a friend who had a miscarriage and she encouraged me to continue blogging. So I've decided to start with a topic that is easier to talk about. Then I will work my way into the more difficult stories. See, even after 8 years it is so difficult. Screw timelines.
The Dreaded Question
"Do you have any children?"
"How many children do you have?"
Just as a refresher, I delivered a son at 22 weeks back in 2005 who lived only minutes due to an incompetent cervix and scattered between two living sons born in 2006 and 2011, I suffered 3 early term miscarriages. This has always been a difficult question to answer and still is. How I chose to handle it may be completely different than you as we are all individuals and our situations and families are all different. This is just my story and my struggle with this question.
When we lost Ian, who was our first, it was important to me to let people know when they asked, that I was indeed a mother to a son, an angel baby. The embarrassment or fear of making them uncomfortable was trumped by the fact that I had no other children to show the world that I was a mother. And I was proud to have a son. I've always wanted a son and if I didn't tell the world about him, he would be forgotten. So I felt almost stubborn and defiant when answering, not caring how the other person felt because damnit, I had to GO THROUGH THIS, the least they can do is hear it and acknowledge it.
Believe it or not, the question became more difficult during my pregnancy with Nathan and after he was born. "Is this your first pregnancy?" and "Is this your first baby?" seemed easier to answer sometimes with a simple "yes". Their eager, happy, excited, smiling faces would remain that way. I wouldn't have to see pity, or sadness, or sympathy creep across their face when I stumbled through the truth. Some people I felt comfortable telling the whole story to, but not many. The change came when my second child Nathan was about 1-2 years old. I knew that I wanted him to know from as early as possible about this brother. I wanted Nathan to know that he was my rainbow baby. I wanted him to feel connected to his older brother. So I tried it out when he still couldn't understand what I was saying or speak well. And it got easier and easier. Then I found myself prepared once he was old enough to understand and to know that when I answered that question, I was telling the truth and it was okay.
Then I had my early miscarriages. I rarely mentioned them when asked how many children I have and I still don't. I will only tell close friends and family, or others who have had losses, the whole truth. I felt terribly guilty about this for years because I am a FIRM believer that we need to erase the stigma attached with early miscarriage being "easier to deal with" than a later loss or that your baby is "not really a baby" that early on, etc. etc. I was victim to those horrible thoughts and comments from others and I know the pain of having your loss minimized. I think maybe I had to deal with this more often because everyone knew of Ian by then and I got a lot of comparisons "at least this isn't like Ian" and "wasn't it much harder then?" Even my poor husband said those words, but I had to come to terms with the fact that he was experiencing all of these losses as the partner that isn't carrying the baby. So yes, watching the horror and pain of his wife birthing a baby only to die in his arms, is much worse for him than holding my hand during a home miscarriage or waiting for me while I had a D & C. That is a different situation for him and he is allowed to say those comments. I had to work through my anger and come to an understanding as to why he said and felt that way. And vice versa. But it is NEVER okay for someone outside of the relationship to compare or minimize a loss with another or with how society values our pregnancy.
So while I still get a twinge every now and again when I answer "I have two living sons and one son in heaven" because I know darn well there are three other babies up there waiting.... but that is how I have chosen to answer that question and I'm the ONLY one that gets to make that decision. Just like YOU are the only one that gets to decide how to answer for yourself when asked the difficult question "How many children do you have." And do not apologize, work through any guilt you may have, give yourself a break because face it, you've been through hell and you have earned the right to answer that question however you see fit regardless of how it may make others feel. Happy Friday to you all :-)
Thank you Becca for helping prompt me to start get the blogging juices flowing, whether you intended to or not :-)