You wouldn't believe some of the things people say. I know that 100% of them are well intentioned and well meaning. That doesn't make them any less painful for me. A simple "I'm so sorry" would really go a long way for me. I would also accept "I'm thinking of you" or "Let me know if there is anything I can do." Of course there really isn't anything you can do (or say really), but saying it is nice. Here are a few thoughts on things you shouldn't say.....
Upon hearing the baby no longer had a heartbeat a well-meaning and very close to me person said this "I'm sorry you had a sucky day." Um seriously? Sucky day? What the hell? I found out my baby was dead and you are apologizing because I had a sucky day? In what universe is this okay? I actually got quite angry about it. I mean not to their face of course, but with my husband I just cried and told him how angry I was. Now to be fair, this person actually came around and ended up providing really fantastic support for us. I think it was just the initial shock of not knowing what to say. So this one ended well, but this was just an inappropriate thing to say.
What about this one? "You will make a great mom." Do you know how hurtful this is to someone that just lost their child? I won't make a great mom, I AM a great mom. Just because my baby didn't join us here on earth doesn't mean I'm not a mom. I carried that baby for 19 weeks and he was my CHILD. That makes me a mom. Even if I never have a child here on earth, I believe I get the right to be a mom. This almost implies that I screwed up somehow and don't get to be a "real" mom yet. UGH. I didn't screw up. I didn't drink or smoke or hurt my child in any way. I WAS a great mom to that child. Guess this person won't be sending me a Mother's Day card huh?
Or...."Everything happens for a reason." Sure in theory this is nice to say, and maybe I've even thought it. It's just a bad thing to tell someone though. Especially someone with really raw emotional pain. I want to scream at people who say this "REALLY??? WHAT WAS THE REASON?? WHY DO YOU GET HEALTHY KIDS AND I DON'T? WHY DIDN'T THIS HAPPEN TO SOMEONE ELSE??? WHY DOES IT HAPPEN TO ANYONE? WHAT POSSIBLE REASON COULD THERE BE FOR BABIES TO DIE??" I could go on all day about the things I would like to yell at these people. And while yes, I may sort of get a handle on believing this at some point, you telling me isn't going to help me at all.
How about telling a Buddhist that their baby is with God? Seriously? I'm a Buddhist. I don't believe in the big guy upstairs with a white beard watching us all. I believe in a different type of afterlife and moving on. I believe my baby has gone back to the universe. I don't think he's in heaven the way you might think. I don't believe in heaven. Why do people assume that everyone believes in heaven? It would be nice to believe that, but don't be pushing your religion on me in my time of grief. I will accept the statement "I'm praying for you" though. I feel like that's more appropriate than talking about the baby being in heaven. I believe in prayer for every religion. Buddhists believe in prayer. So rather than tell me about my baby in a heaven I don't believe in, maybe you could say you are praying for me. Although as a side note, someone did say something that comforted me that was kind of along these lines. Someone I know recently had a baby and I sent them a small package. She emailed me on Facebook and thanked me for the package and said how sorry she was. She said something about how her baby was taking a nap and had a funny smile on her face and was in dreamland talking to Bear. I'm not sure why, but this really gave me peace. In fact, I'm crying as I write it. First cry of the day!!!! 3p.m. I'm making progress. Oh wait, I digress....I was talking about the comment my friend made. So anyway, for some reason that comforted me. It wasn't an overtly religious thing, just more of a comforting thought. Back to things people said that annoyed me...
Or the obvious statement that something was wrong with the baby and it was for the best? OMG. Yes, I know something was wrong with the baby. Duh. That's why the baby died in utero. Ummm..yeah...that's why I don't get to hold my baby August 1st like I was supposed to. That's why they are doing an autopsy and pathology. Duh. Yes, I realize that something was wrong with the baby. And NO, it isn't for the better. Know what would be better? Me getting a living baby in August. Yep, that would be better.
Lots of people knew I wanted a baby and knew I had wanted one for a long time. So I've had quite a few people ask me when I can try again. I get that. I don't really get angry so much about that one. BUT, I wanted this baby! Not another baby, this baby. I know that people don't mean anything bad by it, and I think about trying again myself. But I really just wanted this baby. It's like Bear is replaceable or something. I can just get pregnant again and replace him with another baby and all will be fine. That's not how it works. I wanted him. Plus, I'm 35. I'm no spring chicken. I don't have a ton of time for having another baby. The timing on this baby was perfect. He was due in August giving J time with us at home for the birth and giving me plenty of time to try for #2 before I turned 40. My odds of bad things happening just get bigger the more time that goes by.
So now that I've complained about the many things people said that were bad, let me explain how some people really came through for me. I had people send me emails every day, we recieved really nice cards, some people brought us food, some people offered just to sit with me. There was a lot of nice support. In fact, more support than I could have ever imagined. It reminded me to be more aware of others. To send cards and say thank you. To put myself out there when others are in need.
A few things really stood out in terms of nice things people did or said. One of my aunts sent me an email every single day after she found out. She just said something like "I'm thinking of you, Love you." It was so comforting. My lovely cousin sent me a beautiful boquet of tulips my first day back to work so I would know she was thinking of me, and she also texted me that day to check on me. My sister and my mom both brought me food a couple of times. That was really helpful, because I wasn't eating much. My mom bought me a pretty amber necklace and said it was in memory of Bear. A friend of mine said "a lesser womb would have miscarried long before 19 weeks," it might not make everyone feel good, but I thought that was a sweet sentiment. So many wonderful things stand out. I'm sure I just focus on the negative because it's easy to be angry. So easy. So I'm glad I decided to include some of the good things.
Today it's been 3 weeks since I found out my baby was no longer alive. Today I would have been 22 weeks. Today I would have known if he was a boy or a girl (I just use a generic "he" until we find out for sure). Today I would have had a cute, growing pregnant tummy. Instead, I'm sad--with no more pregnant tummy. In fact, I've lost more than just my pregnancy weight. Instead of all of those things, I'm writing a post about the weird things people said in the last three weeks about us losing a baby. Instead of anticipating my next prenatal doctor's appointment, I'm anticipating a phone call about autopsy reports. Life isn't fair.