This could also be aptly named, "En Masse Horrification".
So, what's your latest hobby? Mine is a cross between eating bok choy (I AM OBSESSED) and horrifying people into a semi-coma state of oblivion. And not on purpose! (Not this time, anyway.)
So here's the deal. I have had a handful of miscarriages (3) and most recently I had a stillbirth (+1 = 4). (Please do not become one of those that I horrify en masse, just stick with me and read along.)
When you have an early miscarriage, you may have told a few people that you were pregnant. Perhaps you told your parents and your siblings and your best friends. When you go through a miscarriage at the early stage, yes, it stinks. It stinks a wholloping cow poo, but at least you haven't been on the stage with your pregnancy. Do you know what I mean? Do not think for one moment that I am downplaying the hardship for any of you in the loss of a child, but the fact is that it is more protected emotionally and physically when you have to go through it on the early side of things.
Then, if you've had one before, the next time around (if you get pregnant again), you are so much more careful about everything and you have this lingering thought in the back of your mind that it could happen again. You hope it doesn't, but you know it already did to you, so it may happen and you have that little nagging thought going on in the back of your head. When it does, you can feel the huge sense of "NOT AGAIN!" but the actual shock of it isn't what it may have been the first time around.
Let's say you get to have three miscarriages in a row. The shock factor is replaced by the expectation of having a miscarriage and things ending not well. I know for some of you this is rather pessimistic, but I would just like to acquaint you with what for some is more along the lines of actually being realistic. Your expectations are that you perhaps won't have a successful pregnancy. Some people continue on carefully, some people say, "Who gives a flying crap, anything I do isn't going to matter anyway! I may as well just (let's say for example) edge the grass and rake leaves."
Now if you're noticeably pregnant, things change. You've got this giganto belly that is sticking out in people's faces. You have to change your wardrobe. You have to change how you reach for the glasses in the cupboard and how you maneuver around the chairs. You are clearly pregnant to the natural observer. Children notice you are pregnant. People ask you if you know whether you're having a boy or a girl.
If you have a miscarriage/stillbirth at this point, things get a little more dramatic. More people know that you are/were pregnant. People at your favorite grocery store see you as pregnant. The librarian you see each week notices you are pregnant. It's everywhere.
But you don't talk to all these people in an in-depth manner and so...
These poor sweet people ask about you. They ask about your baby. Oh gosh. "So, you were pregnant (and they can see that you don't look pregnant anymore), and so you had your baby?"
This is the horrification. Immediately this surge of dread comes upon you. What are you going to say to make this person NOT want to melt into the floor right now? Is there any salvageable way to get through the next fifty seconds with this person without them changing colors from ghastly white to entirely red? No. Not really.
This is me. I get to tell this to people pretty much on a weekly basis.
I am on a first name basis with 50-75% of the local Trader Joe workers. One girl likes to run and we've discussed marathons and training before. She comes up to me and says IT.
"So you had your baby? You were pregnant, right?"
My brain cringes for her. Poor, sweet person. I hate this. I step toward her to tell her in a not so loud fashion, "Yes, I was pregnant, but I ended up having a stillbirth."
Then it repeats itself in front of me. The expression on her face is complete horror. Her eyes are nearly twitching in disbelief that she could possibly have gotten into this situation and now what to say! She offers a hug to me and I accept it. She feels so bad, she says, she feels so so bad. Terrible. I rub her arm in a reassuring way, telling her it is okay, everything is going to be okay. "I can't believe I said this and now I feel terrible!" she is nearly wishing that there would be a Trader Joe emergency where she would have to run full speed away. I console her and tell her that yes, it stinks, but it's okay. (I wonder if she thinks by merely asking that I will somehow implode or burst into tears at the thought of some sweet person's asking after me. I already lived through it. A question isn't going to hurt me.)
I never see her for the rest of the shopping trip. I tried to make her life feel a little less like she was drowning in Sheol and changed the subject as quickly as possible to ask her about her running. Next time, I hope she doesn't see me walk in and hide behind the samples counter.
When you go through some rough times, hopefully you have come out with your character built up. Hopefully you have learned something. Perhaps you realize that this life is fragile, that you are not in control of it. In this, you are thankful that you came out the other side. In this, you feel sorry for those who may look at you and feel like your load was too heavy to bear. You never know what you can do until you have to do it. It's a heck of a workout, baby, but you can't get biceps by laying around and drooling on your couch.
So hey. If you ever have to be on the other side of that conversation and you wish you could rewind and suck your words back in to avoid what you think may be causing pain to someone else - hopefully you are speaking to someone sane. If you are asking after them because you care, hopefully they can recognize that for what it is. And if something horrible has happened to them, don't melt into the floor. Give your love to them and don't treat them as if they had changed from human status to plague status.
If you're on this side of it, try to keep it all in perspective. Whatever crazy thing people say to you is likely their only way they know how to communicate love and sympathy to you. Don't be all offended. You are strong enough to realize that in the whole scheme of life, it's not a big deal if someone says something wacky.
And for those of you who are in this fairly small boat of RPL (repeated pregnancy loss) and stillbirth, I am sorry. I know how you feel. I would give you a hug if I could reach you! It is hard. I don't know why you have to keep going through it, either. But the hope is not on this side of eternity, the hope is on the other side. Your little one matters and so do you. You are not alone. I'm at this party. I brought the salsa.
Peace, love and together we can stop floor-melt,