I was having a tough start to my day this morning. I was fine at home, getting ready, but on the way I started thinking maybe I shouldn't be going in today. I couldn't put my finger on the reason, but something felt amiss. Perhaps it's that this morning I noticed that the main diamond in my engagement ring is the same size each of my babies' perfect little ears were. Or, perhaps it's my awareness that one week from yesterday will be our 4-month anniversary of losing Aliya and Bennett. Four months. That is so hard to fathom. Four months ago, I was four months pregnant. Fast forward, and now we're four months' grieving. The pain is getting easier to deal with but it's still very much there for both Paul and me, daily. I think Paul's starting to be more affected than he has, although I'm not sure what may have changed. He just requested last night that we not attend an event we were scheduled to attend on Monday. There will be children there, it's in celebration of Christmas, and, duh, it's the 4 month anniversary of our loss...going would be masochism. This particular anniversary will be especially poignant because it falls on Addison's first birthday, a day that should be a fun celebration but is laced through and through with sadness. Every month, the 5th day holds special pain for Paul and me and for Keleen and Brian, but this one, moreso.
All this aside, I was making it through mostly ok. I was working on a website project that I wanted to complete before lunch, consulting occasionally over the phone with a colleague in another division outside of our building. Our floor has been pretty quiet lately, but I'd heard lots of excited chatter and a voice I didn't recognize. I overheard that someone's mother had come to visit. Hmm. Cool. Anyway, working away...making awesome progress...my changes were almost ready to publish...
I somehow missed the see the e-mail , or I would have fled immediately.
Minutes later, I heard a several people scream, "It's a GIRL!!!" Twenty feet away from my desk, someone else had an impromptu (although obviously planned with her mother) gender reveal party, where the color of the icing inside the cake told the gender of the baby.
I finished my work as quickly as I could, packed up my stuff, and left (at the urging of my supervisor). I sobbed all the way home, trying to control the flow of tears so I wouldn't wreck on the 35-minute drive. The heaviness of my crushing grief was nearly too much to handle.
I understand that life continues on even after babies die. All of us in the "babyloss" community have been confronted with this fact one way or another - or sometimes repeatedly, cruelly.
Perhaps I'm just more considerate than the average person, but if the tables had been turned, I would never, ever do something so inconsiderate in the presence of a woman who has lost her babies (recently or not!), without personally giving the grieving mother a head's up so she could vacate the premises.
Others in my life, when I've been faced with the thoughtless comments/actions of others recently, have noted that pregnancy makes women self-centered and they forget the feelings of others because they are so caught up in themselves.
I do not believe this generalization holds true for any pregnant woman who also carries the burden of having lost a baby/ies in the second or third trimester. I would be willing to bet that none of the babyloss mamas in my circle who are currently pregnant again would ever dream of celebrating her pregnancy milestones or whining about her pregnancy symptoms in the presence of another babyloss mama unless there was a tacit agreement that it was ok.
And I know, I know, no one meant any harm to me. They (almost) never do. (Actually, I don't think there has been anyone who has tried to hurt me with words or actions since my loss. I consider myself lucky, because there are many grieving mothers - and dads - who have a very different experience.) Still, that really doesn't make it any easier.
I guess what I would say, to those of you who read who yourselves have not experienced the loss of a baby, is please, please keep those grieving mommies and daddies in the front of your mind always. Our grief will diminish over time, but it will never, ever disappear. There won't come a day when we're suddenly "over it." Be mindful when talking about or celebrating a pregnancy near you that the news will sting grieving parents for years...even if they've gone on to have other children. Please, just be considerate. And if you want to do more, to brighten the day of a grieving mom or dad, then ask about their baby, use the baby's name in conversation, remember the important dates, do something in honor of that child. Or just pass the message to be considerate to others you know.