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Saturday, August 16, 2008

What do I tell people?

I've been thinking about this a lot over the last few days. My family has been great about calling other family members and some friends and telling them what happened so I don't have to. Of course, some of the people I know they don't, so I will have to tell those people myself.

What do I tell them? I feel like saying I had a miscarriage is just wrong. It wasn't a miscarriage. Jenna was very sick, and she died. I delivered a baby, albeit a very small one. I'm in no way implying that an early miscarriage is not painful, because I know it has to be, but it's not what I had. I had to go through labor and delivery, have an epidural and actually deliver a baby.

I think saying she was stillborn is closer to the truth, but even that is not exactly right, either. I guess I've always considered a baby stillborn when it is full-term. I was only 20 weeks and five days when Jenna died. I think saying she was stillborn isn't really fair to those women whose babies really were stillborn.

I've thought about saying she was born prematurely and was just too early, but again, that isn't really accurate either. She died before she was born, so I had to be induced. I didn't just go into labor spontaneously.

I guess I could just tell people she was very sick and died, and I had to be induced. The problem with that is right now I'm just not able to go into detail about it without crying. I wanted something quick and easy to tell people to help keep my emotions in check, but that may not be possible.

The other thing I've been wondering is what to tell people when they ask me how many children I have. It will come up sometime. Do I say one and leave it at that? Do I say two, but one died before she was born? I guess there is no one right answer for any of these questions; the right answer is the one that is right for you.


Hollie said...

First off, ((HUGS)) to you! I have dealt with this same question since Cameron passed.

I do in fact tell people I had a stillborn. I have a certificate from the hospital, that dh and I had to sign, saying so.
Our babies were born sleeping.

Yes, they were smaller than a full-term, but that doesn't make them any less important. They were fully formed little babies, that we got to hold, touch, and see with our very own eyes.

You do whatever you feel comfortable doing, and don't let anyone every make you feel like Jenna's birth wasn't as "important" as a full-term birth. And please. please, please don't worry about offending other women. You're grieving right now, that should be the last thing on your mind hun.

Plus, I would hope that any woman, who has lost a baby - who has held their forever sleeping child - would understand.

Jenny said...

I lost my baby at almost 23 weeks pregnant (labor & delivery) due to a birth defect. I won't lie and say going back to work was easy, but it did bring a sense of normalcy and routine...exhausting yes...but it kept my mind occupied. I took about 3 weeks off work and then a couple of days to transistion back into it. This worked for me...although at the time I could have taken a year off and still thought it wasn't enough.

I also couldn't bear my coworkers saying anything about my baby. Even an "I'm sorry" or a sympathetic look would send me into a crying episode. I knew this in advance so I had a friend at work send an email to everyone letting them know that it was just to difficult to talk about "right now" and that a simple "welcome back" would suffice. This helped me tremendously!

Another thing that helped me was sending a personal email to my friends and coworkers. I wanted them to know that my baby was very real and I that I missed her incredibly. I gave a few details such as when I delivered, let them know that I held her, how cute her little toes were, and when/where she was buried. I know people at work probably thought I went off the deep end, but sending this email made me feel so much better!

Like you said, what you decide to do will be the right decision.

T said...

I use the phrase "I lost my baby" (for my 19wk son who was alive until right after he was born) or "I lost a child" (for my 24wk son who died at 3 days old) and when asked, I usually say I have one living child.

There will be times, especially when your pregnancy was recent that the context allows for you to say you are mom to one child and had a daughter that you lost- it's an invitation for the person to ask more information about either child. Details like her name, her gestational age, the conditions of her birth are so close to your heart at first, with time the emphasis fades and she can be your much loved, always missed angel (or whatever term sits best with you). I used to rattle off the how & why of my deliveries or the medical details until I realized few people want that much info. They are looking for something they have in common with you, like having been pregnant multiple times or having been through a difficult birth... While you are healing, it's more appropriate for comments to be all about you and you can be as detailed and emotional as you need.

It does get easier with time, with years & years of time.

Katie said...

Depending on the situation, I'll either just say that I have 4 kids or 4 kids and 1 Angel. The latter was said by my bio aunt when she introduced me to someone at a family wedding. I thought it was perfect and wished I'd thought of it 13 years ago.