Thursday, April 20, 2006

Breaking the Bad News

I've been pretty lucky so far---most of my casual acquaintances found out what had happened. I was dreading going back to work--I'd played so many gigs with so many different people when I was pregnant and I just knew that I would be inundated with How's-the-Baby questions. Fortunately, the music community here is pretty tight, so it seemed like everyone already knew. This was such a relief to me. I don't care who told who, I don't care if it was fodder for gossip as long as I didn't have to tell people that my baby was dead. Better luck next time. Thanks for playing.

Well, there have been a few people who didn't know. Yesterday, a very nice viola player asked me, "How's the new baby?" She had such a great smile on her face. I just said, "Well..." and shook my head. The smile stayed there, but she started to look confused. "We lost him," I said. Still smiling...more confused. "He died. He passed. We lost him." It finally soaked in for her. No one expects that kind of answer when they ask that question. They were just making an attempt at small talk, and this is what they get. I feel like I just ruined their day and I wonder if they will ever again ask how someone's baby is.

I've been learning a lot already on this journey, and I've learned that when you tell someone that your baby died, they want so badly to say just the perfect thing to make you feel better. I heard this yesterday, and I've heard it before, "Sometimes nature knows best." Hmmm, okay, right. Nate was a sturdy little big-footed, barrel-chested beauty with a head full of auburn hair. He was absolutely perfect--well, he would have been. In mine and so many of our situations, nature didn't know best, nature fucked up. Royally.

I want so much to set these people straight, to get angry at them, but I can't. Partially because I'm too emotionally exhausted, but also because I realize now that they just don't get it. What happened was just so horrible, so unimaginable to the average shlub on the street, they can't get their brain around it. For some reason, I was entered into this sorority of wise women, so all I can do is nod sagely when someone attempts to comfort me with this kind of thing. They don't understand, and I'm glad that they don't--no one should have this kind of understanding. I know that it is helping their heart to tell me these things, and I'll just let them do it. The place that I have been is dark and black and scary, but I'm crawling my way out of that place, baby. I'm doing it--it's a two steps forward, one step back type of thing--but I'm doing it. I have to, for my husband, my family, and my (please God) future children.


delphi said...

I wish that people could just say "I'm so sorry, that is so horrible" but I guess that it is beyond their comprehension that a baby could die for no reason. Even though it happens. A lot.

You handled the situation with class, pure class. I congratulate you on your ability to speak after being asked that question - the first few times it happened to me I nearly passed out.

MB said...

My grandmother was with us when Audrey was born (I hate saying 'when Audrey died'). She's an obnoxiously religious Baptist and she drove me insane with her 'God has his reasons' commentary. I begged my mom and uncle to get her out of my house. My uncle was kind enough to ask her to his house for a visit where he told her that she wouldn't be going back to my house but would be going home. It was such a relief. He handled everything. It was the nicest thing anyone did for me at that point. I'm still grateful.

Shannon said...

It is astounding the idiot things that people will say. Why can't they just stop at "I'm sorry."???

I'm sorry you're having to deal with that on top of everything else.

kate said...

Good for you, you handled that very well. Jeez, though, i wish people could just say "I'm sorry".

sillyhummingbird said...

You handled that situation with extreme grace. You're right--people just don't know what to say--it is incomprehensible to them. I think that when we say our truths--they can't handle it b/c what happened to us is their worst fear. That seems to be my experience anyway.

I, too, hate having to tell someone "what happened." I often try to avoid people who don't know simply b/c I am so exhausted with the emotion, on both sides, of telling our story. I even ran around a grocery store to avoid a young receptionist who left my ob practice right before my son was born. She saw me from afar and smiled and I kept alluding her--I just didn't want to discuss it and see that look you get when you tell someone.

Maybe it gets easier with the passing years?? I hope so anyway.