How’s-the-baby season

“How’s the baby?”

I was asked twice today. I am now seeing patients for their annuals who saw me this time last year, when I had a baby bump. I dreaded this time. I made the sign for this time. Months ago I couldn’t imagine the pain I would feel as people eagerly asked about the baby.

“She died shortly after birth.”

I can say the words effortlessly now. I don’t get flustered. It’s the awkward silence that follows after the requisite and heartfelt “I’m sorry”s that I don’t know what to do with. I fill it with short sentences like,

“We knew she was sick, but hoped it would have been different.”

“It’s been a difficult year.”

“I’m here, so that’s good.”

I’ve been asked a number of times about the baby, but those comments have been spread out over days or weeks. Two in one morning made me realize I’ve now hit the how’s-the-baby season.

I was just getting to the point where I wondered if I should take down my sign. I sometimes found the comments disrupting to the visit- I never minded them (I always appreciate someone who has something to say about my baby), it sometimes just didn’t flow- I felt like I had forced the info on them with the sign. I’ve had several patients come back in after their visitor or call me later, seeing the sign as they left. I feel like I can answer questions about “the baby’ more easily. I was thinking that this easiness with the question was an indication that I could do without the sign. But today has shown me…not yet. I’ll probably take the sign down either in the new year or at the one year mark, because when else do I take it down? I’m ready and not ready all at once.

“How’s the baby?”

Part of me wants to respond, “She’s dead, thanks!” But I don’t think people would quite get my dark humor there.

How do you react to questions about your baby? Has it gotten easier? Harder?


14 thoughts on “How’s-the-baby season

  1. Those questions are so hard. Someone asked me yesterday on the phone if I had any children. I now choose who I tell. I had never met this person before so I lied and said I didn’t have any. But I don’t want to betray Eddie, I hope he understood…

    • I’m sure our babies understand- it just feels awful either way! On one of my support boards, when the “do you have kids” question was discussed someone said something quite beautiful. By not sharing Eddie with a stranger, you were protecting him. He is so much more than small talk. I love that. Right now I tend to tell everyone and anyone and have lots of awkwardness as a result. I hope by putting it out there, I’ll learn the best way to deal. I know in the future I wont always do this- it’s whats right for me for now.

      ALso it’s just especially difficult to answer the how many kids question if you lost your first, only because the question is trying to assess whether you’re a mom or not, right? and having lost your first, you are a mom, but not in the way they are asking. its so hard!

      • Those words are so spot on – thank you for sharing. I completely agree with you on losing our first which makes it so much harder to answer the question. When i have spoken of eddie to strangers i have said we had a baby boy but we tragically lost him a few months ago. Thats when i have been brave enough to embrace the awkardness afterwards x

  2. My problem is that I can’t say “he died shortly after birth” (the correct, perfect response) without an awkward smile, “it’s been a tough year” (it has) without a self-deprecating little laugh and shrug. I feel like I’m trying to perfect the “sad smile” without being that conversation kill-joy. Let me know how you do it!

    • you and me both, trying to perfect that sad smile and appropriate followup comment. it’s been a tough year as been my go to, but what happens after the year mark???

  3. I am so sorry you’re faced with these questions. I lost my son at 26 weeks pregnant but I carried very small, so barely anyone knew I was pregnant and if they suspected, they didn’t ask (one of those awkward weight gain vs pregnancy scenarios). Add to that, that I never formally announced my pregnancy. So only a handful of people knew about my pregnancy and subsequent loss and I have never had to deal with the “How’s your baby?” questions. I’m not sure how I would handle it, but I think your approach is the best one possible. Honest and short.

  4. For me, only few people knew that I was pregnant and they shortly knew Kevin passed away from others. So, I did not have to answer the same question. I do have problem to update new people my status though. Still awkward. 😦

  5. I’ve been back at work for 2 weeks now and I get the “hows the baby?” question several times per day from my patients. I just answer “my daughter was stillborn” or “she didn’t make it”, wait for awkward silence and obligatory “I’m so sorry”, say “thank you” and move forward with my visit. It always leaves me a little breathless though as I try to get through it. In some ways though it makes me feel a little better that they even bother asking, like I’ve made some sort of impact on that person’s life that they remember I was pregnant and care to ask how my baby is, even if I am not able to deliver the response they are expecting.

    • breathless- yes, that’s exactly how I felt upon returning to work and got questions. I didnt usually cry (not in front of the patient) but I was totally breathless. YEs, I take comfort that people noticed and care enough to ask. its the weird disappointment when they dont get the expected answer that I have trouble with. working on it though!

  6. I think it’s harder still that hardly anyone even knew I was pregnant. I didn’t really show much, and we didn’t talk about it since it wasn’t until 20 weeks that I felt “safe” and then only for a couple of days. So since no one knew I even had a baby, it makes it so much harder to recognise that no one is going to ask. Ever.

    • such a true true sorrow- losing not only your child, but losing the publicity of pregnancy! I still think of Seraphim and how much comfort reading your words were to me, traveling almost the same journey and almost the same time. I still think it’s amazing how I was a week ahead of you in gestation and how our babies came a week apart. some weird kismet. and I often think of your snowstorm delivery- the plane flying through the mountain pass. an amazing, touching, sorrowful story.

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