Any question but that one...
Stumbled upon a group today, that lead me to another, and another, and another, and another, and.... I've been sitting on my couch for an hour bouncing from one FB page to another reading so many stories of infant loss. I was dumbfounded to hear the number of babies who are stillborn each year after our Liliahna was delivered. Today, I read so many stories, I read so many people speak of their pain, their anger, their hatred of god, their awakening. I often times think and have mentioned that I should be over it-it's been 3 1//2 yrs, but today I read stories from people who are still affected by their loss 10 and 11 years later. I guess it really never does go away, I guess I am perfectly normal. One story in particular resinated with me today as it is something I had been pondering for quite sometime. It is something I have struggled with for over three years.
I remember one of my first outings after Liliahna died. I met a group of ladies for lunch at a little cafe by the seawall. There weren't many of us and most had been just as excited about me having the baby as I was. So many of us were pregnant at the same time, due within months of each other so going out was always difficult for me. On this particular day I sat at the end of the table with my toddler on my lap, quietly chatting unsure if I wanted to be there-was it really good for me? At some point a new spouse, a young lady I had never met started speaking. I remember the low hum of different conversations going on around me, and the look from her-beady little eyes staring directly into mine, "how many kids do you have?" As I remember it, the low hum surrounding me came to a sudden and abrupt end and all eyes were focused in my direction. I sat frozen for what seemed to be at least 3 minutes but I'm sure was more like 3 seconds, pondering the answer to that question and I responded with a simple "four". I said four-I denied my dead daughter for the first time.
Since that time the question has come up countless times. People ask and I will 99% of the time answer with a short stern sounding "four". I don't have four children, I have five. When people can't grasp the idea of how I can do it with four, I often times want to blurt out well had our daughter lived can you imagine!
I say four, because it is easier. Simply put, no way around it, convenience.
"You have four kids, right?" No, I have 5. "Oh, I thought you had 4" Our 5th baby passed away "Oh I'm sorry" Sorry, for what- Sorry my kid died and yours didn't. Sorry, you brought it up. Sorry, the conversation suddenly got awkward and you have nowhere to run to and are now going to turn and pretend the last 3 minutes never took place. You see how much more convenient a "yes" is.
"How many kids do you have?" Well shoot if I say 4 I'm leaving one out, but if I say 4 and an angel that is just weird, if I say 5 their might be questions which could lead to awkward pauses and comments that might make me want to punch this person in the face.
I struggle with this everyday. I don't want to deny her and yet I don't want to share my story with every tom, dick and harry. My life has dramatically changed over the years, the person I am is so different then the one I was. There were things I expected to struggle with, there were things I was prepared for and there were things I thought I knew how I would handle. It is amazing to me how even the most simple of things such as a generic question can turn me upside down, can stop me in my tracks, can leave me speechless. I wonder if she is in heaven shaking her head, every time she hears me say four. I wonder if my heart would feel better if I did tell every tom, dick, and harry rather than keeping it a dark secret only to be let out when I feel you are worthy of such knowledge.
How many kids do you have? Today...today I have 5.
Please take the time to look at "Back to Zero" https://www.facebook.com/returntozerofilm?hc_location=stream
Please take a look at the STILL Project https://www.facebook.com/StillProject?hc_location=stream
and the book "Still".
These are just a couple of the many groups/projects I looked at today-so many people out there with stories, bringing their stories to life, and healing through helping others.
...I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you...
— ~ Dr. Maya Angelou
Keywords: Back to Zero, Still, Still project, birth, death, grieving, loss, questions
I have not lost a child, and I am sorry that you and your family have. That is not something anyone should ever have to face. What I can relate to is the "dark secret" part. The "withholding information" part, and I can tell you after years of counseling, soul searching and personal growth that secrets are never good. Within secrets lies our shame, and there is NOTHING for you to have any kind of shame about. The more you talk about it, the more you celebrate her precious being. The more you talk about it, the easier it is to come to terms with and the more comfortable it becomes to speak of. The awkwardness that others feel when you mention it is theirs to deal with, not yours. I say, stand boldly and say you have 5 children, 4 beautiful, healthy living and one beautiful, precious, guardian angel.
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