Here is something that is true: From November of 2011 to April 3, 2012, I was pregnant, like anyone else. And despite less than ideal circumstances, I went into labor one morning, like anyone else. And in even less ideal circumstances, I delivered my child the old-fashioned way, without even any pain medication, like anyone else. And my body then recovered from that birth, like anyone else.
But my labor happened too early, and my baby ended up dying, and as a result, the world at large expects – nor really, the world at large **needs** me to pretend that that period of my life, the time when I was pregnant, my labor and birth of my child, never happened.
Because funny pregnancy stories aren’t funny anymore, when the baby you were pregnant with didn’t make it home. Because no one needs pregnancy tips from someone without a healthy, living child to hold up as proof that “I ate a turkey sandwich and look, here’s the baby!” Because even if you want to know, say, what a contraction feels like (Scale of 1-10? A 10. Unquestionably. ), or how long it hurts after (it doesn’t, somehow), my story ends with a dead baby, and no one wants to hear about the birth of a dead baby. Yet another on the long list of things that sucks about losing your baby.
I try to keep it to myself, because I see the involuntary flinch on their faces when I start a sentence with “when I was pregnant” (and god forbid I follow that up with “with Amy”). And because I know that even when I don’t mean it, bringing up Amy invalidates everyone else. Imagine a group discussion like this:
Friend A: I am having the SHITTIEST day – my car broke down, and now my cat is sick and I think I have to take her to the emergency vet.
Friend B: That sucks, I’m stuck at work late and I’m exhausted.
Me: Ugh, me too. I had to call to schedule my postpartum follow-up and the receptionist kept calling my follow-up for my stillborn daughter “pre-conception counseling” and then I started crying and had to hang up.
Yeah, Friends A&B feel kind of like heels now, right? Even though I genuinely think their days were shitty too. So, I keep it to myself.
Oh, and then there is my inappropriate and very dark sense of humor. The death of your very much loved and wanted baby is not funny. But there are things about the situation that kind of can be. Except not really, especially to anyone who doesn’t feel like they have the right to laugh at those jokes, which is, well, pretty much anyone who’s not me or Dan. So, I keep it to myself.
I don’t want to pretend 5 months of my life didn’t happen, and I don’t want to pretend like I don’t have any knowledge of pregnancy, or labor, or birth, or postpartum recovery. Sometimes, I can do it, to be polite. But sometimes, I just don’t want to.