I lied….sort of.
Chris did the Best Buddies ride up in Cape Cod- a 100 mile bike ride to fundraise for the organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities- people like Mabel or who Mabel would have been. And so Chris rode in memory of Mabel. Turns out it’s good training for him, as he’s doing a half iron man next weekend (who is this guy??).
Our plans were a bit interrupted. We originally planned to spend the night before at my parents house, which is 20 minutes from the race start, but Muppet decided to eat one of Chris’s inhalers the day before and had to spend a night at the vet for monitoring. So Chris got up at the crack of dawn (before dawn actually- at 330am) to make it up to Boston to check in and ride at 7am. I stayed behind to retrieve the silly, but stable puppy and drove to meet him at the finish line on Cape Cod. We spent that night at my parents’ house instead of the one before. As we walked the puppy outside that evening, we ran into a neighborhood couple. My parents live in a community of town houses along the water, with a nice walking path right outside their doorstep. Neighborhood people often walk along there and this couple was very friendly. The man introduced himself and was quite chatty, in a way that made me wish my dad was with us because I’m sure they would have gotten along quite well (my parents were in Florida at a family funeral- one I would have attended had I not been grounded by my midwives due to my late gestation and history of preterm birth).
After the appropriate petting and cooing at the puppy, he amiably commented on my protruding belly. “Congratulations, I see!”
“Thank you,” I smiled softly (can one smile softly? I think so). I’m still working on accepting congratulations gracefully.
“Is it your first?”
“No, my second.”
“Oh boy, you’ll have some sibling rivalry, then, huh?”
“Mmm hmm.” I lied.
“We have two daughters five years apart. They warned us the older one might regress. I thought, no way- not at five. But they were right!”
I smiled politely at his story trying not to betray my reeling mind and pounding heart. I was still thinking about the subtle accession I had made with my simple “Mmm hmm.” He thought my first child was alive and I didn’t correct him. It wasn’t an outright lie- but it felt like one. I couldn’t do it though, not with this man, who I would likely never see again. I don’t think I’ll ever deny Mabel’s existence, but for the first time I denied her death. This protruding belly is an announcement to the world, something that people happily comment freely on, a public billboard inviting strangers to ask usually harmless, friendly questions.
I know this is a common conundrum among us. I’ve read so many of your posts in how you respond and yet I’m still caught off guard at my own response this time.
So tell me again, how do you respond to strangers?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way you answered. Although ideally I’d like to always be entirely truthful, I end up weighing if it is worth having to bare my soul to a total stranger. Often it is just not worth it to me, and I think I’m not yet at a point emotionally where I can share something so personal with someone I don’t know. Whatever you are comfortable sharing is an acceptable way to answer.
Great work Chris!!
Some days, it’s just easier not to say anything. I believe that’s okay and you need to do whatever is best for you in the moment. Sending you love.
I had many miscarriages, then 2 ectopic over 25 yrs ago. Can’t believe that much time has passed. I am asked every single time I go anywhere, or talk to anyone, I have told people all my babies died, which shuts them up…., but thats mean, And then there is always that weird silence, I will tell you from experience , it never stops..Its the opener to a conversation, I have become more gracious in those situations, but it still hurts, just like the first time. I have never gotten used to it. I don’t believe I ever will. G.
I find that when people ask me which number child this is, that I say this will be my third and I very quickly change the conversation if I’m having a day where I really don’t want to talk about it. Other times I will say this is number 3 and then of course they ask what I have at home and I speak openly. Every situation is different and you shouldn’t feel bad for glossing over it every once in awhile. You didn’t act as if she never existed, so you should be proud of yourself!
I agree with everyone! Usually I say that my first-born died, but I’ve told the white lie of omission too. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.
Gosh, SO many of you recent posts (the last three to be exact) are striking a chord. I can so relate. I’m actually just a bit stunned silent because I’ve been in some eerily similar situations. I don’t have anything profound to say, but just know I FEEL YA, Mama…