It’s been twenty months since our Eve’s stillbirth, and I still choke when I find myself confronted with one of those impossible questions. You know the ones — the questions that make you avoid small talk with new acquaintances, the ones for which there is no easy answer.
This evening, I found myself facing down another one of these questions again at a party. I introduced myself and our rainbow son to the group, and suddenly there it was.
“Your baby is so sweet . . . is he your first?”
“No,” I managed, and then — I choked. It quite literally felt like all the words that I might say to illuminate our family bottled up tight in my throat and I could not manage so squeeze a single one of them free. My husband had to finish for me, finish explaining why we both do and do not have another child.
How is it that, twenty months later, I still flinch and falter in these situations?
I remember, in the early months of grief and my subsequent pregnancy, rehearsing my reply to a fellow loss mother, trying to convince myself that I had the courage to boldly say, “I have one living child.”
I thought that by now, surely I would have been comfortable enough to offer the truth with the same confident love I feel for our daughter.
And yet, I don’t.
The part of me that longs to find meaning and purpose in my pain wants to know why this is the case. Why am I not better at this yet? Is there something wrong with me, with my grief?
But I don’t think that this is an issue of not being “good enough” or having something “wrong.”
I think the reason that I struggle with these impossible questions is that, simply and horribly — it is really hard to be the mother of a dead child.
I would never give up my sweet Eve, never trade her brief presence in my life for any respite from the pain of her absence. All of this discomfort is a worthwhile price to pay for having known her.
But no matter how worthwhile, this pain is still pain. It’s still hard, still uncomfortable. I don’t know if it will ever be easy to introduce new acquaintances to the gaping hole in our lives and hearts that represents our daughter.
And — that’s okay.
I’ll say it again, because I need to hear it again — it’s okay if it feels scary and painful and awkward to speak about my dead baby. It’s okay for it to feel like a risk, like vulnerability, because it is.
Although this truth does not make it any easier for me to navigate those impossible questions at this point in my grief journey, it is reassuring to remember that this difficulty is not a bad thing. It is merely one more piece of the multifaceted puzzle that is babyloss and grief that continues to smart even years on.
What are your impossible questions/situations/etc.? How do you navigate them?