“Is this your first?”
To any woman pregnant after loss, you know the punch in the gut feeling that follows. The inner turmoil of dialogue goes something like, “Should I tell them I lost my first baby? No. It’s too sad, they’ll feel so uncomfortable. But, does that make me ashamed of him? If I don’t explain, does that make me a bad mom? Would he think I’m not proud of him?” It’s a battle I faced every time an acquaintance innocently asked that question. And let me tell you, working in a hospital, it happened a lot.
Before returning from maternity leave after losing Weston, I honestly practiced a script of what to say when faced with tough questions like this. Even still, I could feel the ache of my past every time someone glanced at my growing belly. Oh how I wanted to tell them about my first born, but why did I feel so concerned about people’s reactions? Should it matter if they feel sad for a moment? Just one fleeting moment in my own sea of sadness. Was that too much to ask? Was his story too much of a burden for friendly conversation in passing?
Few realize these moments we have to speak of our lost loves are all we get. We do not gleam at smash cakes celebrating first birthdays or plan the perfect Halloween costume in the fall. All we have are moments etched in our memory that we are terrified to forget. We remember positive pregnancy tests, first ultrasounds, and gender reveals. We have memories of long, painstaking labors and the beauty of holding those tiny fingers in our hands. Though for us, we cling not only to the moment their lives began, but every detail of when they ended as well. We hold dear to their first kiss as do we their last. We are the group of mothers that no one longs to join. But, the love that runs through our veins is just as fierce. A mother’s love is the same, no matter how many hands she holds, and how many are just out of her reach.
So I ask, the next time you are conversing with a mother who mentions the loss of a child, please do not apologize for bringing up the topic. Let her speak. For those moments, you give her the chance to be their mother again- not just in her own eyes, but in yours as well.