I knew it would. It was inevitable. I just didn’t know where or when. And I didn’t know how I would handle it.
Ever since I got my necklace and made the decision to wear it every day, I knew I was taking a risk. People were going to notice and people might ask me about it. I decided I was OK with that but was nervous about the unpredictability of when and where this might happen. The first time was at Panera a few weeks ago – the cashier commented, “and who’s feet are those your necklace?” Reply: “My daughter’s”. I started to shake, but the conversation ended there – phew! I was with another babyloss mom at the time and she explained to me that I would start to develop scripts on how to interact with strangers when the topic comes up. So I started to develop a script in my head for the next time this would happen. What if they ask how old my baby is? I will reply, “she would have been ____, but she died shortly after she was born.”
It was noticed in Disney by an employee at the entrance – just a complement, nothing more – phew! I began to wonder why I was so relieved when someone didn’t ask about my necklace. I love talking about Maya so wouldn’t I welcome questions about my necklace? The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to ruin someone’s day, I don’t want to be the target of pity, and I don’t want to risk someone stumbling over their words and saying the wrong thing.
And then today the inevitable happened – the conversation went further. I ran into the bank to make a quick deposit. I left Hackie in the car. The bank was quiet and empty. I walked up to the teller and the first thing she said was, “I love your necklace! Are those your baby’s feet?” I thought a simple “yes” might suffice but it kept going. She asked the question I was dreading. “And how old is your baby?” Without thinking about my rehearsed script I told this woman the truth. “She actually passed away shortly after she was born. She lived for about 9 hours.” I braced myself for what was next and I started to shake. Did everyone else in the bank just hear me? Did I just ruin this woman’s day? Did I make her feel like crap for asking? What was she going to say next? Would it devastate me? I told myself over and over again to keep it together. She simply said how sorry she was, and how she couldn’t conceive of such a thing. She then said, “I hope I didn’t hurt you by asking.” I looked at her, smiled, and said, “not at all” as I clutched my necklace tight. She then went on to ask if it was expected or unexpected – a question I haven’t had yet but decided I was OK with – she was curious.
This was a much anticipated experience. A complete stranger asked about my necklace and the conversation got to the point where I had to tell the truth. I was shocked at how I handled it. When I got back to the car and shared the experience with Hackie, he told me that I handled it perfectly. I smiled – yes, perfectly. I shared my precious Maya with someone else. Perhaps that woman will now hug her children and/or grandchildren a bit tighter tonight. Perhaps she will find more joy and have more gratitude for life’s gifts.
I now know that should a stranger ask about my necklace, I do not have to worry about where the conversation might go. If I must share what really happened to Maya, I will because she is my daughter and I am proud to talk about her and share her life with someone else. I know that not everyone will be as careful as this bank teller, who avoided saying the wrong things. However, if someone is interested enough to ask how old my baby is, I will tell them the truth, brace myself for their reaction, and smile knowing that my little Maya has touched yet another person.