Friday, August 26, 2011

Catch 22

By Maggie Stockmann

How many kids do you have? Is she your oldest?

Such a simple question with such complicated answers. All that goes into deciding how to answer – Will I see this person again? Are we in public? Am I strong enough to tell the truth? Am I strong enough to give the quick happy answer? Compromise?

No, she is our second…we lost her brother 2 years ago.

Yes, she is our oldest at home.

Yes, she is our first daughter.

Simply "Yes."

And yet, my promise to my son is that I will never forget, never diminish, always speak up for the lost babies. So why is it so hard to give a simple… "No, she is our second. Her brother watches over her from heaven." Is it because the happiness people are showing is quickly replaced by sadness in their eyes? Is it difficult because I strive to make all around me comfortable. If I say, "No," then others feel the need to comment or question. Will I then take the time to comfort them and make it easier?

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died -- you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift."
~ Elizabeth Edwards July 3, 1949 - December 7, 2010.

And yet again, I feel so honored when Frankie is remembered by my family and friends. I am blessed to have a great friend whose first daughter share a birthday with my son. Each year when we celebrate Mia’s birthday with cake and ice cream, my dear friend remembers to call and offer her own "Happy Birthday" to me for my son. I will forever have a connection with her on this day. So why do I struggle to help others remember him?

The question that gives me a long pause lately…When are you going to have number 2? All I want to say is “We did on January 29th. Her name is Molly.” But I don’t want to become someone who people are afraid to talk to, afraid to share their happy baby news, afraid to include in events for fear of upsetting or saying the wrong thing. I don’t want to feel like I did shortly after his birth – an oddity that others wanted to help move on. I do not want to give the impression that I am stuck grieving my son. I miss him each and everyday but I am able to find joy in life again. I love my daughter and cherish every day with her as I know all too well that they are a true blessing.

In cases like this, is there ever a right thing to say? Isn’t everything a Catch-22? How do you answer this question?


michelle hs said...

it's very difficult to share with a complete stranger that my last baby died because they will inevitably say something about well, at least you have a boy and a girl. yeah, i have two living children and two dead children that never lived outside my womb! i agree that this is a catch-22.

Anonymous said...

I agree about how hard this is. I have a son who I gave up for adoption 24 years ago- then a daughter in heaven that would be 13 now and 2 children that I get the privilege to care for daily!!! How do I answer the question- so how many children do you have??? It is so tough because most people would never understand......

Kelly said...

I always include our baby in heaven regardless of how it makes others feel because I feel guilty if I don't and I don't want my other kids to feel like Sydney is not important to our family. Our needs take priority over whoever is asking the question. It gets easier to answer the more you do it the same way each time.

Ashley said...

I just got asked this question, as we just found out we are 6 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby. I answered, "This is our second. We lost our first baby, Thomas, in April in our 9th month of pregnancy. He is going to be the best guardian angel." I want to bring awareness to stillbirth, and I will NEVER deny my firstborn.

Anonymous said...

I have a half sleeve tattoo of an angel holding a baby, with my son's name and birth date tattooed underneath. I get asked about it and complimented on it quite frequently. I always include my son in conversations. He will always be a part of my life and I am in no way uncomfortable talking about him. If it makes others uncomfortable, that is their problem. I will not dishonor my son's memory to make others more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

someone offered me the phrase...I have 2 living children. since i lost my thrid. thought that was cool. because arianna counts.

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