Updated: Apr 3, 2022
The much dreaded question for any loss mum or dad..... "How many kids do you have?"
I guess most people get asked this question on a daily basis, I mean its a part of life and a natural question to ask, and a lot of people wouldn't hesitate to answer this simple question.
But it hits a bit differently for a loss parent, because the answer is not simple.
It wasn't until recently, at my last growth scan in fact, that I had a 'penny drop' moment;
Technician: "So, is this your first baby?"
Me: "Nah, second actually"
Technician: "Lovely, was your first a boy or a girl?"
Me: "A boy"
Technician: "Naww.. what's his name?"
Technician: "Love that name, how old is he?"
Me: "He would be 11 months now"
Technician: *Looks confused..*
Me: "We lost him at 26 weeks gestation last Christmas"
Technician: "Ohhh I'm so sorry to hear that"
Me: "Yep... It's shit."
End of conversation. Que the awkwardness.
Who knows what this person is thinking at this point, but you could usually cut the air with a knife.
And it's usually now that I would start a battle in my own head on whether I handled this particular conversation 'correctly' or not.
No matter my chosen approach, I always wonder if I was too short with my reply, too harsh, too direct, too honest, too emotional, not emotional enough etc. and I question whether I should have just lied to save the discomfort.
I've tried every response imaginable.
But not honestly answering this question never sits well with me, and I have too much of a conscience to lie anyway.
Why do I care so much?
Why am I trying to protect them for?
Why am I trying to be so gentle with such a horrible truth that only really belongs to ME and MY family?
I've offered short replies, my life story, I've answered with a lot of intense emotion and I've answered with no emotion at all and I have come to realise, there is so easy way to answer this question as a loss mum, nor is there a right way.
But I do know that I could never not include Chayce in whichever way I choose to respond, regardless of the discomfort it brings and to whom.
I know now, I have to answer this question in whichever way my heart allows me to. Sounds cliché, but it's dead set true.
I hate that the person that is trying to make conversation with me becomes uncomfortable, awkward or silent with my truth.. but that's not my fault.
I also sit there hoping they don't start trying to make friendly chit-chat because I don't want to be the one to cause tension. Again, this is not my fault, but it sure feels like it.
I'm answering honestly and how it feels right for me, the truth is the part that sucks.
But if that that means that the person on the receiving end suffers with some discomfort from my answer, then imagine how I feel answering the bloody question.
I cant imagine this particular question or those that are alike, will ever stop hitting a nerve for me, or any loss parent in fact and I don't think there is an easy one way response that we can all adopt.
But what I do know is that the way our society handles bad news like this, is the actual problem. Not the fact that I'm sharing the reality of my child passing away.
Humans were never taught how to process or properly deal with death, and it shows when conversations like these arise, especially when we are talking about babies/young kids.
Baby loss is not uncommon. Death is not a new concept.
Our coping mechanisms suck and need work. Simple.
Baby loss is only foreign to us because death is not supposed to come in this order.
Death is not supposed to come before life, but it does sometimes and that's hard for our brains to comprehend, so we chose not to deal with it if given the opportunity.
But loss families cant ignore it. It's with us every day.
Instead of focusing on worrying about the discomfort of others when it come to sharing news like this, I believe we really should stop pretending baby loss doesn't happen, or that it is uncommon if it does and therefore learn how to respond in a constructive way, instead of running away from the topic and creating more shame.
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