After my brush with happiness at the arrival of my new niece, formerly "no name", now fondly referred to as Harper Mathilde, I thought I'd dare myself to take on the real world with some of my dead baby fears.
What are my dead baby fears anyway? I have lots and they are different on any given day. Sometimes they aren't fears as much as they are things that piss me off, but I find it is hard for me to differentiate the two when they are all wrapped up in grief.
One thing is that no one ever really asks me how I am doing, i.e no one wants to talk about the baby. Remember that scene in Terms of Endearment (I know, I am "advanced maternal age"...so many of my film references may not be ah, let's say timely or relevant for some of you spring chickens) when Emma(Debra Winger) country girl, goes to New York with her bff Patsy to get away for a bit after finding out that Emma has the big "C", cancer? Emma gets annoyed because she knows Patsy has told all of her friends about the cancer and while they are all overly nice and complimentary to Emma, none of them ever say anything to her about it. Emma says to Patsy, "Tell them it's OKAY to talk about the cancer!" "It's not that tragic, people do get better." The next night at a party, Emma is sitting on the stairs and a "New Yorker" walks up to her, sits down and says, "Patsy tells us you have cancer!! We should talk!" Emma spits her olive out in the middle of a big laugh, gets up and walks away.
That's how I feel. No one wants to talk about "it". Maybe it's from fear of making me cry, which I might, or not wanting to bring me down on a "good" day, believe me, even on my good days, I'm already down there, or they just don't like talking about the unspeakable tragedy of dead babies. Yep that too.
Mind you, I don't want anyone coming up to me saying "I hear you have a dead baby! Let's do lunch!". And I don't want someone who I barely know, like so many of you have experienced upon going back to work, coming to me, hoping to get "the real story" either. But I do want for my close friends to ask how I'm doing with all of this, even if it's just once in a while. I do have one IRL friend, who just today sent me an email that read, "I know this is the week you would have had your baby, (it's the week of my due date but I was scheduled for a csection last week) and I have been too chicken to say anything to you, so I am sending you this email to tell you I am thinking of you and your baby. If you want to talk or need someone to be with, I'm here." That was good enough for me. She's my only IRL friend who EVER brings up Caleb. So she gets a pass on this blog.
If the problem is that they are afraid to say anything, than I thought, with my sliver of bravery from my happy place moment, I would try bringing "it" up myself.
I thought I'd start with my ballet mom friends from my daughters ballet class. My mom told me when she filled in for me in December they all talked about me to her, how sad they are, how they miss me, how they don't know what to say to me, how they feel like they've lost a friend because I haven't been there etc., So I figured, they'd be a good "test" crowd. I mean, if they'll talk about it to MY MOTHER, why not me???
I get to class and first thing, the ballet mom I have been avoiding is right there, 9 months preggo, (hence the avoiding thing by me) but I sit right next to her and ask her how she is doing and if she is getting excited about her BABY. 1 point for bravery. She goes into more detail than I need, but I listen and offer appropriate reassurances, "I am sure the baby moving is a good thing after all", "Breech? You're having a C-section, don't worry, it'll be fine." 2 points for bravery. She asks me how I am doing. I say "Great!", lose 1/2 point for my chicken shit answer. My other friends arrive. I share the new niece story with them. Earn 1/2 point back plus another point to keep the math simple. They ask how s-i-l and baby are. I tell them good, but that I had been worried as she was overdue and in my STILLBIRTH SUPPORT GROUPS (this means you, my dead baby mafia moms) I have heard so many stories about babies who died on or after their due dates. And how scary and real the possibility seems to me now. 5 points for saying the dreaded "S" word out loud. My non pregnant friend says "Oh my God, really, oh that's awful, really on the due date?" 1 point for friends for continuing conversation. I share some of my new found dead baby knowledge, when my pregnant friend says, "Can we not talk about this?" Not in a real serious way, but a sorta "Hello, don't talk about the icky stuff with the pregnant lady" sorta laughing way. Friends lose 1 point for asking to stop the conversation. I tell her I am sure she'll be fine, which I guess was kinda a lie, since, who really knows anymore anyway. But what else was I going to say? "Watch out, you could be next!"?
That's when someone brought up OJ and his going back to jail and I knew the "it" conversation was over. So points wise, I came out on top but that's the problem right? I didn't want to win, I wanted my friends to win, to get more points than me by really talking about "it". I guess it isn't really fair to take points away from the pregnant lady. After all, before joining the club, the last thing I would have wanted to talk about when I was 38 weeks preggo would have been babies dying on their due dates, but still. I opened the door and was saying to them, "Today, it's okay to talk to me about MY baby and/or my grief." and they didn't. OJ was easier on the ears for everyone. Except me.
I guess that's the IRL $60K question. What do we really want from our IRL friends anyway? I am not sure. I know a few things I don't want, not from the innocents who post here or from my live friends. I don't want advice. You DO NOT KNOW. No matter what your life story or what horrible, terrible bad things happened to you, unless you gave birth to your dead baby, do not tell me how to deal with this. I don't want reasons. Or rationals. Or explanations or, for the love of God, a "road map" outta here. Speaking of God, PLEASE, spare me your beliefs...especially if they involve a God who hands out dead babies as "life lessons", or "growth opportunities" or to show the great "mystery" of God's Way. If that's what your God is all about, I have two words, "Check, please.".
I don't expect my IRL friends to "get" this. I don't get this. I do want to be able to talk about my baby, if I can ever get over not wanting to cry. In front of them. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I don't really want to talk about it until I think I can talk about it without crying. Why is that? If there were ever something to cry about, this sure as shit must be it, right?
During another moment of bravery or temporary insanity, whatever you want to call it, I mentioned to one of my girlfriends that I was looking for a counselor for my son. She asked why and I told her that he was having a really hard time living with the loss of the baby. She was dumbstruck. "Really?" She asked. "I never would have thought that." "I would never have guessed that." Jesus, why not??? He's 10, his mom has had a miscarriage and a stillborn baby inside of a year, and he lost, in his mind two siblings. How is it shocking that he might be, just the slightest bit troubled by that??????
Hmmm, maybe that's it. Maybe it's just too damn hard to explain everything and so not worth it when you do. Maybe my IRL friends just aren't ready for dead baby land. Maybe they will never be ready for it, unless, well, you know.
So for me, I think I'll count on my IRL friends for reminding me of who I was before, for laughs and giggles and glimpses into the life I used to know. I'll count on them to be my friends, because they are, and it really isn't their fault that they have no idea who I am anymore, how could they when I don't either?
What I hope is that my moments of bravery will happen more often and that slowly, I can introduce them to the girl I am now. IRL.
P.S. To my sis, the only IRL'er who knows about this blog. Nothing in this post is about YOU:) But you know that right?
P.P.S. To my deadbaby mama's, I added links over there on the right side for some really beautiful dead baby jewelry, not the "in your face" rockin type pieces you might see over at C's or Charmed girls' place, but very cool anyway. I especially love the footprint/hand print one. I think I might do that one. I also added a link for a photo service that does free picture retouching of your baby, if you need it. Many of you don't, but for those of you who have pictures where your baby doesn't "look", I have no idea how to write this, okay??, the way you want, this place does phenomenal work. Check out the website, they explain it much better than my lame ass attempt here. And it's free.
P.P.S. Look Coggy, I did it!!!!