I was reading a posting from another mother today about acknowledging our children.
Parents of lost children often have these intense feeling of saying they have x number of children including a child they lost. But if they do include them then they are scared of the reaction of others, when asked their children's ages. And at the same time if we exclude them the guilt takes over. Anyone who has ever said I have x number of children when really they have one more, knows the feelings you get. Your heart feels as though it was just stomped on, your face heats up, your hands can sweat.
It shoudl be so simple right? But its so far from that.
I know this all too well. Usually I'm lucky and I can just say four and I'm not asked any other questions but it does come up now and then.
Recently we went to a couples workshop and we had to go around the room and tell a little about yourselves. I said the things I liked, how long we had been married and that I had three kids and their ages. Now I know those that know me are gasping because I left Ethan out and I never do that.
But I didn't want questions the time didn't seem right and I didn't want to be the center of attention I hate that. Plus I didn't want to make my husband uneasy.
But it hurt because inside I felt like I was not allowing Ethan to be part of our family and I'm almost sure its the first time Iv done that.
Later on the woman running the group who is also my counselor said something about me having three children. I will say I felt a huge amount of relief because someone acknowledged Ethan. But I also was worried if anyone in the room caught it. And sure enough another couple asked later on about it.
I just briefly said yes and we lost him last year at 35 weeks into my pregnancy. It was easier to round it up a few days.
Another time was a month after we lost we lost Ethan it was Easter and I was at the store buying some Easter stuff for Ethan's grave with my sister. When we checked out the clerk was asking my sister about her new baby. After she was done it was my turn, I had bought some of the basic stuff we would have bought had Ethan been here. A My First Easter bib, a few rattles etc.
The clerk then asked me if I had a baby too. I didn't know what to say and I could see the panic in my sisters face scared I would tell her or something. At that moment anger took over, "she had her baby and dammit I have a son too". So I told her yes but we lost him last month.
I don't know if the clerk thought I was going insane buying baby stuff or if she was so stunned she didn't know what to say. But it felt dam good. But I also felt like shit.
Another time we took back the stroller and car seat to Babies R Us after we lost Ethan. The lady at the front asked why we were returning it. I felt the need to punch someone at that moment. Really we just lost him days prior. I didn't know what to tell her. I don't even know where it came from but all I could say is "our baby died". That was enough to end the conversation.
Well that was until she told me since I didn't have my receipt I would have to take and in store credit. I flipped. What the F*** was I suppose to do with over 200.00 at a baby store when my son was not here. Finally after talking to her and a manager they put it back on our card.
Its horrible how after telling people they look like they saw a ghost and sometimes go on ignore. Other people are very genuine and say they are sorry or even ask questions.
I hate that we have to go through this but I know why we do. I think a lot of it is torture we put on ourselves. But we are scared by saying yes that child is our child, society will beat us up because this child is no longer living or for that matter as a child from stillbirth they never breathed on the outside.
I have now decided that if I'm ever asked again I will say " I have four children", now if I'm asked their ages I will say, 6, 4, 4 months and one who spends his birthdays in Heaven".
I think by saying this I'm allowing room for questions but also not catching people off guard.
Ethan is my child and I will include him as hard as it may be it will be nothing worse than the day we lost him.