Saturday, July 16, 2011

Awkward Neighborly Conversations

Neighborhood graduation party.

So there I am just minding my own biz (but trying to be polite and conversational, if that’s even a word). So far so good, party’s going okay, I’m not upset, I don’t feel weird or abnormal amongst throngs of people who simply don’t know the pain I’ve endured. Well, most of them know. They just don’t know; they haven’t been through it. A man in his fifties who happens to have three sons looks over at a man in his thirties who has two daughters and a son. He says, “So you had to try for the boy, huh?”

The guy responds, “Yeah I guess you could say that!” (I’m suddenly wondering how their daughters felt hearing that one…)

So fifties guy responds, “Well we ended up with all boys, all three!” and then looks over at me.

I’m thinking, Don’t you even f*cking go there. Don’t you dare ask me if we’re going to try for a boy. We have a boy, and his name is Elias.

He says, “So when are you going to try for another?”


Also, *whew* that he didn’t say, “When are you going to try for #2”, because I would have had to correct him.

I’m sitting there holding my seven month old daughter wondering why this guy is asking such a bold personal question, a question I might expect from a girlfriend my age when we’re out for ladies’ night after a few too many drinks. A question I might expect from someone on a loss forum who wants a trying-to-conceive buddy or a support system for a subsequent pregnancy.

A man in his fifties who I’ve never had a real conversation with before? Did he just run out of things to talk about?!

So I simply respond with a canned answer that we aren’t quite ready yet, that I just want to focus on my daughter for now, that my career is going to be more challenging this year and will require a lot more of my attention. You know, the surface reasons.

Does it not occur to him that I am heartbroken over the loss of our son? That this conversation is actually painful? That I am terrified at the possibility of losing another? That pregnancy for me is absolutely anxiety-ridden, and that I may have developed PTSD or depression after my loss?

Oh I expect way too much of people, apparently.

He says, “Well, we managed to have three boys in just four years. Bam, bam, bam, just like that! That’s the way to do it!”

Oh, you’ve got it all figured out, don’t you? Let me pull out my pen and paper and start taking notes, oh wise one!

The lady at the other end of the table pipes in, “Well mine are ten years apart…” and doesn’t say anything else, but she says it in a somewhat frustrated tone. She picks up her glass of wine and sips at it, staring off. Her expression looks faraway, and I can tell there’s a story there.

So I look at her and say, “Yeah, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you plan,” lifting my eyebrows a bit and pursing my lips as if to communicate in a subtle way to this fifties man that it’s about time he shuts his mouth and stop acting like such a knowitall. She looks at me and nods, and both of us wonder about each other’s story.

What I really wanted to do was address this fifties man and say, Wow, three boys in just four years? What about I already have three babies in a span of one and a half years? I may have miscarried one and lost another, but I still conceived THREE BABIES. Two of them I carried for eight and a half months, but they still both count, don’t they? Or is my daughter here in my arms the only one who counts? I admit that I don’t always recognize my miscarried baby when speaking of children, and not everyone knows about that anyway, but seriously? I just had TWINS, and my son’s obituary was in the newspaper; he was REAL. In fact, you so generously contributed to a gift certificate so that we could purchase a tree in honor of our son; why you feel this line of conversation is appropriate completely blows my freaking mind..

Does it not occur to this man that I don’t want to hear about some family trying for a boy? That I just lost my son seven short months ago, that my heart is still shattered, that my arms ache to hold a precious living boy of my own? Literally ACHE. All of me aches for another. I know that no future baby, regardless of gender, will ever fill Elias’s spot. He holds a special piece of my heart and will forever. But oh my do I want the experience of raising my own boy. So much that as I type these words, the tears pour so easily thinking I may never have that opportunity. The tears pour so easily feeling like I am betraying my son by wanting another. The tears pour so easily wondering if my daughter feels like she isn’t good enough that I still pine for a living boy of my own.

I love my girl, and I know that if I had lost her instead, I would be writing a similar post about longing for a daughter of my own.

What kills me is that we almost had it all. We were going to have our entire family done in just one pregnancy. One and done. My husband wanted one child; I wanted two. But as soon as we found out it was twins, we were both in love (after the initial shock, of course!). Then we were over the moon when we found out we were having one of each. It literally felt like Christmas morning times a thousand. One boy, one girl. Perfect. PERFECT.

How the hell did we come so close to having our full term precious twins?
How the hell did we come so very close to having everything I’ve ever wanted, ever dreamed of?
How could we come so f*cking close only to have our dreams shattered, just like that?
How do we endure this pain?
How do we ever venture to dream of another living child at all much less dream of a particular gender?
How do I go forward in a world so cruel as to present me with everything I ever wanted only to snatch it away at the very last minute?

We almost had it all.
We almost had it all.
We almost had it all.

Every time I think that, speak that, type that, there’s a knife in my heart that twists and turns and makes me feel like I’m going to pass out from the pain.

Maybe I should refrain from attending neighborhood gatherings.


  1. Boy (literally), don't I feel the say way.

    We almost had it all. Perfect pregnancy and perfect baby. And now, we lost it ALL. ALL.

    I just had a miscarriage last month--didn't blog about it. But here I stand... multiple pregnancies and no babies in my arms. Absolutely unfair. I'm just not sure why I don't get a free ticket to a baby. I have lost TWO. And yet some people go without losing any. No child will ever replace my Andrew, but God I want a baby.

    You (we) almost DID have it all.

  2. Thoughts well written. People do make me angry some days. I recognize strangers and acquaintances might forget our son's twin sister, but I expect more o people who definitely knew.

  3. Yes to everything. I think you read this in my blog, but anytime I told anyone I was having a boy when I was pregnant, I got the, "Oh that's perfect, one of each!" Well, the boy died. Now what? If we ever have another, I don't know how I'm going to handle these comments. It makes me want to hide.

  4. You and your kindred spirit at the party did well to stop yourselves kicking fifties man in the shin! Bam, bam, bam indeed. Well, hooray for him! Sarcastic glare.

    I know that, before I lost my first pregnancy, I often asked people about their plans for children. I thought it was a nice topic to chat about. I don't do that any more. I don't ask someone if they are planning to have any more or if they would like a boy or a girl or why they chose the age gap that they have. Those questions could hit so many raw nerves, I can't believe that people ask them as flippantly as they do. But until you KNOW, you don't know. It's just difficult when you always have to be the bigger person and respond gracefully rather than letting them have it.

    And I'm shocked that he would start this conversation with you when HE KNEW.

    The final part of this post just breaks my heart. I'm so, so sorry. To have come so close. There is something particularly special about boy / girl twins and I can imagine you must have been completely over the moon. I suppose that, because of my own circumstances, I find the fact that you carried your twins all the way to term only to lose your dear Elias just so crushingly sad. So close. It's horribly unfair.

  5. Good for you for not punching this idiot in the face.

  6. You would think this man would know better, etc. Just goes to show how he's never had anything like this happen to him to give him a little perspective.. agh.

    Almost had it all is right.

  7. I often wonder the same thing about how I could have gotten SO close only to lose it all. Not that my pain wouldn't have been as real had I lost my son earlier, but still.

    I feel like so many of my conversations and responses are like what you describe - just on the surface. sigh. . .

  8. Wow, I'm pretty mad for you this morning!

    You should call that lady at the end of the table and invite her over for coffee!

    Something similar happened to me at our areas 4th of July party this year. A mom (that knows I was pregnant last year and I'm guessing she would see no baby with us this year) asked me what the gender was of the new baby was. I told her it was our 3rd boy and she made the flipant comment of "How funny! Ya'll can only have boys and we can only have girls!" Ummm No. I do have a daughter I wanted to say to her. You just can't see her right now as she's on my mantle. I want soo badly to counter unsensitive remarks with unsensitive remarks of my own.

    We need to find a couple of phrases to say to various people to get across the point that we acknowledge our children that are no longer here with us!

  9. Brandy - So sorry you've had to go through a miscarriage after losing your Andrew. Multiple loss is just so particularly cruel. : (

    Thanks for the support, ladies! xo

  10. Sooooooo considerate post.Those questions could hit so many raw nerves, I can't believe that people ask them as flippantly as they do.I feel like so many of my conversations and responses are like what you describe - just on the surface. sigh