Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The masquerade

First, thank you, so much, to everyone who remembered me and my Caleb last week, both in comments and in personal emails. I don't know how the day would have been without the openness of dead baby land that let me just say what I needed to say and not worry about the tears. We didn't do anything as a family to mark the day. My husband didn't even remember that it was the anniversary. He just asked what was with all the new flowers (my mom had brought over a new baby rose plant and another of mums, she bought one for her and my sister and sis in law too), so I had to remind him. He felt bad, I know, more I think that he felt like he had let me down than about actually forgetting, but I could read on his face the guilt. What was weird for me was the night before we had been at a BBQ at a friends house and he was sitting talking to the wife of a casual friend, meaning a friend we really only see when our other friends have a BBQ, but anyway, they were talking about kids and pregnancy and all of sudden my husband was talking about how we had lost a baby the year before. I about fell out of my chair. He NEVER talks about Caleb, ever. Not even to me, unless I bring it up. And suddenly here he was, unloading on this woman we barely know. Meanwhile everyone else stopped talking and I just sat there, stunned, not knowing what to do. It makes me think he didn't really forget the anniversary, he just buried it deep enough that he didn't acknowledge the date but all of the feelings were brimming there, just waiting for the right time and, to be honest, the right number of beers, to come out.
I didn't mention anything to the kids. Maybe I am a coward. I just felt that they don't need to be 'made' to feel sad because a certain date has come. They both have days where they talk about Caleb and to me, those are the best days for us to remember him because the feelings they are sharing are genuine and are not summoned to attend an occasion. It feels real to me not contrived. One day, I hope to take them to the beach, do a balloon release, write Caleb in the sand and say what we need to say. But I guess for now, I am just not ready to let him go. Not yet.

So now the kids are back in school and my duties as an over committed volunteer have resumed. It's weird to think back to last year, this time, when I was tucked away in my home, buried in the loss. Now, as I am seeing many people for the first time in my obviously pg state, there are a lot of shocked faces. Last year, only those who knew me well knew I was pg and so only they really knew about Caleb when he died. It all happened the weekend before school started and by the time I came back to the world of the living, heavily medicated I might add, I didn't look like I had been pregnant at all, so none of my more casual friends or other parents who knew me to say hello to, ever knew what had happened. It made it easier and harder at the same time. I wasn't the same person anymore but I didn't want to be treated differently, at least not by people who I knew didn't understand. And certainly not by those who I knew were merely slowing down to stare at the wreckage of a horrific accident and then would drive off and talk of the gore they had been witness to without any regard for the real tragedy that was mine.
In a strange way, this all feels oddly similar. Except that now they all want to share the excitement of the pregnancy, one even had the nerve to insinuate, well, that's being generous, she flat out asked, "was this an oopps?". to which I would have loved to go into, detail by detail, exactly how much this baby is not an oops baby. Instead, I just said, no we planned this baby. And to the others, I smile and nod and answer all of the routine questions. "November", "No we don't know what it is", "Yes the kids are very excited", "We really just want a healthy baby, the sex doesn't matter, really""No it wasn't a surprise"...."I'm doing great.". And in my head the real answers, "The doctor wants the baby out at 39 weeks, I want it out at 38 because I have no faith in my body and while he thinks everyday it spends in me is more time for it to grow and get healthy, I think everyday it spends in me is another day that my body could kill it." "Really, when I am in for the ultrasound the only organ I am ever interested in is the heart, is it beating, looking for a pen.is or not, that just doesn't enter the equation, it's the least important organ for me right now." "Yes,the kids are excited but it is tempered and measured, they don't ask when is it coming out, they ask, is it still moving, is it alive?" "No we had a miscarriage in December of 06 and then a stillborn son last September, so no, not a surprise at all, we have been trying for over two years for a baby" and lastly, "I'm doing great by taking everything a moment at a time. I am not worried about stretch marks but I am worried about stretches of time where I don't feel movement in my belly." I have all of my maternity clothes in a bin in my room, not in my closet or in my drawers, that way if something goes wrong it's easier to just get rid of the bin and I won't have to deal with packing everything up. We have finally, started to clear out the extra room and contemplate, shhh, a nursery, but it is a subtle, slow process. I have chosen a dark brown for the walls, neutral and easily convertible, if, you know, well...you know. I even thought about names, daring myself to believe this one will actually hear us utter his or her name, will feel our arms, will know our love.
But to the outsiders, the casual observers, the ones who smile and offer congratulations and hugs, I give them what they need to hear and the rest I hold inside, tucked away with the other part of me that is a different person now, the part of me that isn't who they know, and isn't what they want to see or hear about. They want to know of happy things and healthy babies and pregnant women whose babies don't die. What they want I have been giving them for a year, it's not even hard anymore, it is my second nature and so I give them what they want. The masquerade.


Aunt Becky said...


janis said...

I keep teetering on this one... some days I feel we NEED to talk about it, that dreadful experience, so that further down the road, others like us will not be so stigmatzied. But other days I just don't have the energy or the mood.

And I just dread being seen pregnant, and having to answer all those stupid questions.

Hugs to you.

Tash said...

Funny, I'm not even pregnant and I often feel I live in a Masquerade.

Altho, like Janis, lately I've just kinda had it. We'll see how long that lasts.

Kudos to your husband for talking, and both of you for making it through what must have been an excruciating day and week. Always in my thoughts, you.

CLC said...

It's like a never-ending bad play and you are the star. And everyone knows you are a bad actor, but no one dares to say anything, because that would be too uncomfortable.

Cara said...

Husbands so this grieving this so differently! I remember mine, when pressed because I was sure he wasn't doing anything, said "For some reason I always think about her when I am riding the tractor". Go figure.