Tag Archive | risks

It Happened…

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.

What Not to Say…

I had an appointment with my primary care doctor today.  I thought I should consult with her before trying to get pregnant again.  I thought I should bring her up to speed on what went on.  I thought I should bring up the shoulder pain that I experienced while pushing.  I thought all doctors would know what to say and what not to say in a situation like this.  I thought wrong.

She had not looked at my chart prior to me sitting in her office so I completely caught her off guard and she stumbled on her words for an hour.  I have been so spoiled by my incredibly compassionate OB that I was so surprised at how incapable she was at finding the right things to say, or better yet, avoiding the wrong things.

Almost everyone I have encountered since Maya died has said, “I don’t know what to say” or “There are no words”.  They are right.  There are no words and there is no manual for how to interact with someone dealing with tragedy and grieving such a devastating loss.  Though there are no right things to say, there are wrong things.  Let this be a guide…

-Don’t tell me this happened for a reason.  There is no reason.

-Don’t tell me that she is in a better place.  The best place for her is in my arms.

-Don’t compare me losing my daughter to you losing your dog.  (One of several inappropriate things the doctor said today).  I have a dog.  I act as though she is my child and I don’t know what I’d do without her.  Therefore, I understand the love one has for his/her dog.  I also understand that however upsetting it is, we are supposed to outlive our dogs.  We are not supposed to outlive our children.

-Don’t say to me “at least she didn’t develop a personality that you got to know” (again from the doctor today).  I get what you are doing – you are comparing the loss of my infant to the loss of an older or adult child.  They cannot be compared.  They are different.  They are awful.  To compare like that is to diminish my loss and that is not your place.

-Don’t tell me that I will move on.  I go into depth on what those words really mean here.  I am living on and doing a pretty damn good job at it.

What can you do?

Sit with me and let me speak about my daughter.  Say her name.  Ask me questions about how beautiful and perfect she was.  Ask me how I am doing, even though I will probably lie because it is very hard to put into words how I am doing.  Tell me that you are thinking of me and my husband and our precious angel.  Say you are sorry for our loss.

If any of the above makes you uncomfortable, simply say and do nothing.  Honestly, it is OK.  It is better than saying the wrong things.  This kind of loss and grief is uncharted territory for most people, as it should be.  I completely understand that you don’t know what to say.

I wish I hadn’t gone to the doctor today.  It probably wasn’t really necessary.  I clearly made her uncomfortable and she truly did not know what to say.  Unfortunately, she felt like she had to say something rather than simply go about her medical business so she said a handful of the wrong things that made me feel quite hurt.  I know this will not be the last time that the wrong thing is said to me and there may be more hurtful things to come.

In the meantime, I continue to be grateful for all the supportive people in our lives.  The countless number of people who have simply said and continue to say “I’m thinking of you” is getting us through each day.  Though Hackie and I have both endured hurtful comments, we are mostly exposed to support, love, and comfort by our family and friends both near and far.  Thank  you from the bottom of my heart.

Taking risks and being grateful

I was supposed to spend this summer taking care of my baby and learning how to be a mother.  Instead, I am faced with a summer with no plans, long days, and an empty, quiet house.  There have been days where I haven’t wanted to leave the house, see anyone, or talk to anyone.  There have been other days where I am more inclined to do something or to see one of my friends.  The difficult thing is that I am taking a risk with anything I do outside of the house.  I don’t know what will set me off or make me sad.

Eight days after I had Maya, I decided that I wanted to go to the zoo.  Part of the reason was that I knew my husband needed to get out of the house and I wanted to be outside.  I contacted my best friend because I wanted to see her kids and our husbands are close friends too.  My husband thought I was crazy for wanting to go to a place filled with children and babies and strollers.  My theory was that I live in this world which includes children and babies and strollers and unless I was going to go into hiding, I had to be OK with being around that.  It was a risk and looking back (it’s quite foggy), I think I’m glad I did it.

I also take a risk when I’m seeing someone I haven’t seen since Maya died.  I don’t know what to expect from them and they don’t know what to expect from me.  I am different now and that’s scary for all parties involved.  I have started to figure out who I am most comfortable with.  Last week, I sat with my best friend and just talked (she has two children).  We’ve been friends for more than 12 years and she’s more like a sister to me than a friend.  She is Maya’s aunt.  Anyway, the afternoon that I sat with her was so therapeutic.  I was able to talk openly about Maya and the healing process.  I was able to express my excitement of a brighter future without feeling judged.  This morning, I visited another friend who is also a mother of two.  Again, I talked about my experience openly and didn’t feel judged.  And again, it was so helpful.  As I reflected on this experience, I realized that I am being selective about who I surround myself with and who I choose to see.  I decided that it was OK to be selective.  I shared this realization with my mom and she summed it up very well: “You need to be around mothers.”  She is so right.  I may not have Maya in my arms, but I am a mother.  It’s comforting to be with other mothers.

There have also been things I have chosen not to do and people I have chosen not to see just yet.  Different situations and people are unpredictable and I am not always willing to take the risk.  I am not a selfish person by nature, but I’ve had to be selfish this past month.  I’ve had to give myself permission to take care of myself and not be concerned with how my actions and decisions affect others.

One thing I have done and will continue to do is express my gratitude.  The outpouring of love and support that I have received is immeasurable.  I truly believe that it’s the support of those directly around me, those I have not seen or talked to for years that I’m friends with on facebook, and those who don’t really know me but have heard (or read) my story that is lifting me up and moving me along on this journey towards healing.  Thank you to those who have left comments here, messaged me on facebook, sent me a card, sent me a text, or called.  Though I may not respond to them all, I read them all over and over again.  To know that so many have been touched by Maya’s story and are thinking about me gives me the strength I need to live on.