I've been working very closely with a woman who is about 32 weeks pregnant. Right around the time she found out she was expecting she also found out she is diabetic. Naturally, our conversations all tend to end up about babies, pregnancy, the risks and hopes involved. I didn’t tell her about Sadie until we’d passed about six months this way.
I kind of cringe just remembering it. I had taken a few days off of work unexpectedly because of a particularly bad time – sleeplessness, low moments, etc. One of the extended dark periods that, thankfully, happen less and less these days. It went something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if you know this, but this Really Bad Thing happened to us about two years ago, etc.”
I rank it on the awkward scale alongside those instances when some asshole goes on and on asking me why I don’t have children, and how I should really have children, because children, you know they’re the best thing to ever happen to you. And in my mind every time I scream at him that I know all of that and more, including what it’s like to have your entire concept of what life means ripped away in the instant you watch your precious child die.
In person it usually goes a little differently.
This time I was the asshole. Her response came back much later, very oh my god I’m so sorry I’ve been talking all this time is my pregnancy affecting you oh my god I’m so sorry, etc. etc and etc.
Eventually, after a bit of a clumsy transition, our conversations morphed to include my experience with pregnancy, birth, newborns. She asks me questions that never include the how or why, but seek advice about gas and air or the trials of breastfeeding instead. And I’m content with that. I am a mother too, after all.
I probably could have gone on without ever telling her. But that day it just felt so overwhelming, keeping up the act. The fact that there was this huge big part of me that I wasn’t being honest about – especially something that affects me so profoundly – just got to be too much. I feel as though I’m doing Sadie an incredible injustice when I don’t acknowledge her, purely to save other people from being uncomfortable. There is a time and place for most things, of course. But I can’t make a habit of avoiding the truth about this little person who changed my life forever with her own painfully short one.
And now this woman and I have moved on. Maybe it helps explain me more. I’m sure it reminds her how precious a gift she’s been given.
What about you? Do you immediately share your story when someone asks you if you have children, or how many you have?