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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I had a baby, not a situation

Today was my second day back at work. When I came in, I had a card from the Alzheimer's Association on my desk. It was signed by all the people I've worked with there over the years. I also had a card from one of the assisted living homes in the area. I really appreciate both of them doing so. I've been working with them for years.

I also received a phone call from the president of our local Baptist Association. He does all the publicity for the organization, and a few days before Jenna died, he sent me a press release about a program they had in the area. He started the conversation by telling me that he was sorry to hear that I had a stillborn baby. He went on to tell me that he was fussing at me in his mind because he hadn't seen it in the paper, and then he opened last Wednesday's edition to find Jenna's obit in there. He said, "I thought Tamara had so much more to worry about than our little announcement. I felt so bad, and I wanted you to know I've been thinking about you."

He is the sweetest man. Two years ago, when my granny first got sick, the pastor at her church wouldn't visit. We aren't sure why, but he would even go so far as to charge the church extra for a sick visit. Granny needed to talk to someone, because at that time, we thought she might be depressed because she had lost her sister. He said that if we couldn't get her pastor to come and visit, he would. When I was talking to him today, I told him that I wasn't sure if it had ran or not, and he said it was ok. I do feel bad if it didn't get in there, but most things from work from the last two months are mostly a blur.

Then, I got another call from a lady I did an interview with a week before Jenna died. I know it never ran because I never had a chance to do it. She asked me how I was doing, and I gave my standard "I'm all right."

She then said, "Betty told me you had a situation. I suppose it will take you a while to get over."

WTF? I mean really? I wanted to say, "I didn't have a situation. I had a baby, a baby girl to be exact and her name was Jenna. She was very sick with Trisomy 18, and she died. She wasn't a situation, she was my baby girl and I loved her."

A sitaution is being overdrawn at the bank or having a car wreck or getting a speeding ticket. Losing your baby girl to a terrible, fatal illness is not a situation; it's a tragedy. As a woman who has had children, she should be able to realize calling it a situation are not the right words to say.

I wish I could have corrected her, but I so stunned at that point I couldn't do it. She needs to be educated on how to talk to people who are going through (in her words) a situation.

I apologized for the story not getting in, and she said it was fine because she had a follow-up to it. She brought it up there today to me. Luckily, I was out to lunch when she came or I would have had to see her, and I might have said the wrong thing toher, as it has bugged me most of the day. She didn't even say she was sorry. Now, I'm thinking of not doing her measly little human interest, which really wouldn't appeal to too many as it is.

The moral of this story is to learn from my examples -- sympathy cards with a nice handwritten message are wonderful; telephone calls where they acknowledge what happened and offer sympathy are extraordinary but calls that only refer to this as my situation without going into detail are a load of crap and are completely insensitive.

Please, if anyone who hasn't lost a baby is reading these tips please learn from my examples. As a kind of aside, please don't tell anyone who has lost a baby to Trisomy 18 that it was for the best for them to die. We know that logically, but most of us wished we could have had a lot more time with them.


Anonymous said...

Oh Tamara. I am so sorry that that woman referred to your beautiful daughter as a situation. I have been so surprised through my own dealings to find out many people are just clueless. It's like do you really think just because my child didn't live outside of the womb, that they don't count as a child? That I didn't love them as much as you love your children? If you don't have something thoughtful and intellegent to say, or if you don't know what to say, just don't say anything! Hopefully, that is something someone can learn from our children.

Cathy said...

It was, is and always will be your precious little girl, Jenna. thank you for taking the time to read about Annabel. I love the drawing on your site. Also the precious Angel in the flowers. I have to say that I cannot imagine the ache in your heart. Praying that you can talk about her with anyone because she is so real and always will be.

Beth said...

I am so sorry that lady said that to you! I think some people say insensitive comments like that because they don't know what else to say - they're afraid they will upset you. What they don't know is that the most upsetting thing is to ignore what happened. I know exactly what you mean about wanting to tell her that you had a baby girl. I still find myself wanting to tell everybody that I had a baby named Ada and that she looked like her daddy. I just feel more comfortable around people once they know that, even if we don't talk about her anymore. It's weird. Anyway, all I can say is that it does get better with time.