Monday, November 3, 2008



This conversation arose today that left a funky taste in my mouth, as this topic often does.

I was speaking on the telephone to a new contact at our local hospital who is giving me great help with my upcoming training. She asked about my loss.

I told her, five and a half years, a baby girl lost during labor to a cord accident.
Oh!
she cried, dramatically, but not in a bad way. That is so sad. To go the whole nine months and lose her at the last minute.

I agreed. I never know what to say, truly, how do you reply to this?

Yes, this is probably the saddest thing I've ever heard as well.

Yep, my life pretty much sucked at that point.

Couldn't think of a much worse outcome.

I usually piece together something about how it's hard for me to even believe that I've gone through it, much less come out on the other side this crazy advocate for babylost folks running groups and seminars and speeches. (and this is true)

Then she asked me, and your children now?
Yes, I've had two more, since I lost Charlotte, one is four, and the other two.

And are they boys or girls?
Why do I resent this question? As if somehow my answer will tell this woman whether or not Charlotte has been replaced. When Liam was born, I could feel it in some people's voices: the slight drop when they heard it was a boy, as if somehow things might have been better if I'd had a girl right away. People actually voiced this when Aoife was born, they cried with relief, I'm so grateful you have a girl. Thank god it's a girl.

Can I disagree? No, I am glad that I did have another girl, eventually. But I'm also glad I had a boy, and there was a huge sense of relief when Liam was born that I was not going to simply replace one girl with the next. When Aoife was born I would have also been glad to have another boy, although I will not argue that having another girl did provide me with a sense of relief as well. Something lifted to know that, at the very least, I would be able to experience being the mother of a girl, though she would not be Charlotte. This piece of my identity, the girl-mother, was re-established, and I was grateful for that in its own unusual way. But not for her being a girl, per-se, as if I must have the girl to right the Charlotte wrong, and to establish the American ideal of the boy-girl ratio that had been lost.

But of course I answered the woman, and I told her, I have one of each now, one of each here in my home with me. My elder is a boy and the younger a girl. (Note, elder, not eldest. Although is she my eldest? She never did grow to be any older than unborn).

Why does that question always send my mind spinning?


Two hands working together... my little boy and girl

3 comments:

THAT GIRL said...

I can't help but think of another young mother who says about her baby that died shortly after birth... "she had WEIGHT in this world." Yes, your baby girl did, too, she was her own person, and she was alive in you, and yours. And it is okay to resent those questions... in my opinion... because your baby had a purpose, and she still has purpose... individuality. She is not replacable.

I admire you for carrying her purpose on... i'm sorry that your heart hurts.

Heather said...

I've been getting similar questions... well, I don't have any other children yet, but questions with the same intent: When will you try again? The asker always seems to imply that another baby will cancel our loss.

I'm glad you addressed the boy/girl topic. I've been wondering how I'll approach that in a future pregnancy.

You are the most beautiful mother to all three of your children.

Meg said...

I think people just don't know what to say, and in their own mind another girl may make up for the lost one, but obviously that's not the case. You explained it perfectly here. You have helped me, a non babylost mom to know another thing not to imply and inadvertantly hurt the mother who lost her child. Thank you again for your insight and wisdom and grace.