Monday, June 11, 2012

TABOO

The subject of dead babies is a taboo subject for the most part. It's not something you talk about at parties. It makes people uncomfortable. That is why the baby loss community has become a community in the first place. People (mostly women) who can get together and talk about their babies and their feelings and have people understand. It's important. It was a huge part of my journey to healing.

I am starting to feel like I don't belong in that community anymore. I've felt that way for quite some time, but I feel it even more so lately. There are taboo subjects even in the baby loss world. We only support each other. Speaking against another mother is strictly forbidden.

I can't believe I'm even going to say this.

It will probably get me thrown out of the club.

But, I think some of the baby loss moms are wrong.

If you've lost two or three children to the same fatal genetic disease, I will feel bad for you, but not as bad as I did the first time.

If you show pictures of your dead child at your husband's work party, I don't blame him for getting upset.

If you get mad because your mother in law didn't buy your dead child a Christmas present, I think you are being ridiculous.

If you go ballistic on an old friend because they don't celebrate your dead child's "angelversary", I think you are wrong.

When a new acquaintance asks you how many kids you have, you are not "betraying" your dead child if you don't include them in the count.

Men grieve differently than women. It's not fair to be mad at your husband because he doesn't grieve the way you want.

You are not betraying your child's memory if you are  now happy with your life. You deserve to be happy, whether your child is here or not.

I think parents (especially mothers) tend to be oversensitive when it comes to our kids. Since our babies aren't here we have a tendency to be hypersensitive. Over and over again I hear about friendships lost or family relationships strained because someone said or did something that a deadbabymama didn't like. Or because they didn't say or do something that the mama wanted.

Here's the thing: there is not handbook on this situation. Most people don't know what to say. They are probably afraid of making you cry. They don't want to hurt you, so they mostly do nothing. That doesn't mean they don't care. Yes, it's hurtful. But you flying off the handle about it only make a bad situation worse.

Your mother in law may never buy your dead child a Christmas present. Why does it matter? I'm sorry that your child is dead, but buying them gifts doesn't make them alive. It also doesn't mean that your mother in law didn't love her grandchild. Maybe it just means she doesn't see the sense in buying something for someone who can't use it.

We all want to acknowledge our children. Since they were here only a short time, the only way people will know about them is if we tell them. I get that. I really do. But there is a time and place for everything. Pulling out pictures of your dead child at your husband's office party is not appropriate. Ever. First of all, it's a party and nothing halts a celebration like dead babies. Second of all, it's his place of employment. These are his people. If he wants to share pictures of his child with them he will. It's not your place, and he has every right to be upset.

You have a right to be happy. Just because your baby isn't here doesn't mean your life has to stop. Yes it's shitty. It's especially hard in the beginning. But you are not required to stay miserable for the rest of your life. You will always miss your baby, but being happy and moving on doesn't mean that you love them any less. You are not betraying their memory. Get out of your grief. It's the only way you can move on with your life.

Men and women are different. Your husband may not want to talk about the baby much and that's OK. You can't get mad at him because of how he's grieving his loss. He suffered a loss too. It's not fair to tell him that he's doing it wrong. Think of how angry you get when people tell you that you aren't getting over it fast enough? Now what if they insinuated that you didn't love your baby because you get over it too fast? Just because he doesn't externalize your loss doesn't mean he isn't hurting. You badgering him is only going to drive him further away.

I'm not perfect. I know everyone is different, but I see the same thing over and over again and it just makes me crazy. Of course I would never tell anyone these things (unless they specifically asked me) because we are there to support each other. Maybe if we could say these things to each other instead of just telling each other how right we are, maybe then we could really help each other.

But, for now, saying these things is taboo in the baby loss community.

 

22 comments:

Amanda McHady said...

I don't see anything wrong with your thoughts on this. I do however believe that everyone is entitled to how they are going to feel about a certain situation and that perhaps some blms can better learn to express their feelings over these things.
I could go on and on but I wanted to comment just to let you know that I, for one, will not 'shun' you. I think everyone opinion deserves to be respected.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Frazzled Mommy said...

I agree. It also bothers me when there is a loss and the mother bemoans, "Oh, but you don't know what I'm going through." I know every situation is different, but just because I don't go about telling everyone the details of each of my losses doesn't mean it didn't happen. I've just attempted to heal and not relive it.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your honesty and risking the shun to speak your mind. This community is a wonderful thing mostly because you don't feel alone when your world is crashing in around you. However, much too often people get wrapped up in the negativity and instead of seeking out positive ways to move through the grief process, they get stuck in bad places. I have been on this path for a long time and it hurts to see people say these things. I feel bad for them and pray they can find peace in their hearts; to live with their loss, not try to make it something else or push it a way but make peace with it. I mean really why does my child need a Christmas present? To fill up my house with objects that she can not play with, to clutter with reminders that she is gone? So yes!! I agree whole-heartily with your post so you are not alone.

Kristi said...

I was left looking for the *like* button. :)

Jen said...

Are these actual events? Or, are you just using these as examples?

I guess my opinion on being a babyloss mom has evolved over the last 4 years, too. I'm still here to over support and I still have moments where I need support but I don't feel overwhelming sadness or stuck in the grief quicksand anymore. I miss her but I'm happy...

B's Mom said...

The more general examples are things I've heard over and over (I can't be happy because I'm betraying my baby), but the more specific examples are versions of things I've heard. I respect the privacy of others and would not put specific information on here like that.

Nat said...

Thank you especially for the 'I can't be happy because I'm betraying my baby' one. I struggle with this, because I have a lot of peace about my son's passing - and have had from the very beginning, and most days find myself happy and in a good place - moving forward. But I often feel I shouldn't be where I am because of where other BLMs are in their road. I know that its not true at all - I know I do not betray my son, but I guess its sometimes just hard to analyse our feelings and I am always comparing myself to others, always!

Karin said...

This is the first time I've visited your blog. (nothing like taboo to peak one's interest!) I absolutely agree with all of your points. I had two second trimester miscarriages so sometimes feel like I don't belong with those who had or held slightly older babies. I've learned how to filter. And I try not to feel guilty braise every BLM is doing x and I'm not. I've found support in those moments I need it most, and am met with sincerity, above all. I wish there were handbooks bog for BLMs and those who support theme.

Jen said...

I asked because those examples just don't seem real. I cannot fathom doing any of those things and I think I've hit every level of grief over the last 4 years. I guess everyone grieves different which is why I probably wouldn't write a post like this but I totally respect that you have and did...

I don't think people should shun you for it though and I highly doubt that anyone will. This is a very accepting, loving and supportive community through all phases of this journey.

Anonymous said...

I personally have not lost a child, but my mother did when my sister was 14 months old. I have also talked to a number of friends who have lost children. I agree with you on pretty much all of these comments (and I think most of my BLM friends would as well). However, I feel like your comment about not feeling as bad for a grieving mother who has lost another baby to the same genetic disease is too insensitive. You've lost more than one child, I don't know if that is due to something genetic or not, but did you feel any different from your first to your second to your third? It doesn't matter how or why they were lost. It is still just as hard to lose your 3rd or 5th as it is your first. Especially when someone is trying so hard to have a baby, subsequent losses may even be worse as the despair about not being able to have a, or any more, child(ren) settles in.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering...did you feel this way one week after losing you daughter? One month? One year? Grief is ever changing, and I now feel I am better able to handle and control my thoughts and emotions. However, in the beginning I was much more hyper sensitive to things. I think the BL community needs people in all walks/stages of grief to help and support the new ones. I know that I constantly looked to those who had several years of grief under their belt as my sorce of 'hope' that I too will be stronger and will be able to smile and laugh again. I don't think critisizing grievieng women
is what they need, but maybe more of an "I was there once too, believe me it does get better" approach would be more accepted.

B's Mom said...

They are real. Not the specific details, but I didn't make any of these up. They are all based on actual examples.

B's Mom said...

@Anonymous. Fair enough. I understand where you are coming from. As I said, I do feel bad for them, but at some point I feel like you need to stop getting pregnant when you know there is the potential for your child to die. Especially in this day and age with the medical advances and genetic testing available to us. My heart hurts for them that they want a baby, but it breaks for the child that suffers.

I know someone in real life who has four children- three have a fatal (and painful) disease. She kept having children knowing that they would die. I have a hard time having any sympathy for her, especially since her brother died from the same disease and she knew she was probably a carrier. She never even had any testing done. She just kept having sick children. It's not fair to her babies. Why do they have to suffer just because she wants a biological child?

B's Mom said...

@Anonymous (#2) As I said in my post, I would never share this with anyone, unless they specifically asked me.

The first few months after my loss were the darkest time in my life. I have never felt that way before, and I hope to never feel that way again. Everyone is entitled to grieve differently. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

I feel that sometimes this community has a way of supporting someone even when they are being irrational. I'll use the husband's Christmas party for example: The mom was upset that her husband got mad at her. Someone said that maybe a party wasn't the right place to share you dead child's pictures and everyone jumped down her throat (even saying that they would kick her ass!). So now the mom feels validated, and feels like her husband is being irrational even though she was the one who didn't use her best judgement. How is telling the mom that she's right and her husband is wrong helping her? How is attacking another mom who offered her opinion helping? Nothing good came out of that, and the mom carried resentment towards her husband for months over this. If we would have been free to say, "You know, maybe that wasn't the best place to share pictures" then maybe the mom could have seen her husband's side. Instead, she was told that she should be able to share pictures anytime and that her husband was being an asshole. I'm sorry, I don't think that type of support actually helps anyone.

Holly said...

I thought this post was very nice, as you weren't attacking you are explaining to other mums why certain people reacted the way they did and not the way the mums wanted. This to me is more supportive than someone telling another mum that her husband was an asshole for not letting her show pictures of her dead child at his work party.

Elizabeth said...

I agree with a lot of this...maybe not all of it, but a lot of it! I've actually made myself feel guilty because of comments other mothers have made if I don't answer "3" when someone asks how many children I have. I definitely think that children deserve to be mourned...and there is no right/wrong way to grieve for everyone...because, as you said- there is no handbook! I actually googled "the steps of grief" my first week because I just wanted to know what to expect next...but it simply isn't possible! Thanks for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with your explanation about the picture at husband's party. I also agree that we can be our own worst enemies when it comes to grieving, by defending each others inappropriate actions. We can be very co-dependent and not in a good way. I agree that we need to be supportive, but in a realistic way.
-Susan

Jen said...

Oh, I wasn't assuming that you made them up but more that those situations seem irrational/ludacris even. I agree with you that in both of those situations, (the party and Christmas present) someone should be honest with the blm and not just give her what she needs to hear at that time.

I agree with you on most of this post but I think also that you and I are both looking at this journey as 4 years into it and can see things a bit differently. I'm assuming that the party and Christmas present examples are for recent losses. I know I'm much more rational now then I was even a year after losing Lily...

survivingriver.me said...

I just read your post, and I wanted to comment, but I didn't have time to read all the other comments, so forgive me if my remarks are out of context with the comment feed to date.
My fiancee and I lost our daughter at 24 weeks gestation (the very day we were scheduled to have a steroid injection to help speed up lung development) on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.
The first two days were hell on Earth. The first two weeks were full of sorrow. Time does heal, though. As the days, weeks and month(s) have passed, the dispair and misery have dissipated.
I plan to count River as my firstborn. I don't plan to go into lengthy explanation of the circumstances. "Our oldest daughter is no longer with us," is sufficient. On every other point, I agree COMPLETELY with you.
Most people have never lost a baby, they don't know what it feels like, they also don't know what a grieving mother wants or needs to hear. I think it's fair to say that even a grieving mother might have no idea what another grieving mother wants or needs to hear.
It is completely unfair to expect all of our family, friends, acquaintances, peers, random contacts to be sensitive to our every emotion. I can't imagine choosing to sacrifice a relationship and all the potential future support that relationship might have provided me over a completely unintentional slight.
From my perspective, my daughter would not want me to wallow in self-pity; she would not want me to isolate myself or alienate my circle of support; she would not want me to give up on everything I enjoy; she would not want me to drop out of life.
Lately, I have felt as though I am surrounded by a bubble of peace, joy and happiness. I notice the beauty in everything around me. I am hopeful for the future. Before River, I was not a genuinely happy person. I am so grateful to her for the entirely new perspective she has given me. I am not going to squander these gifts she has left me with.

Nancy said...

While I have never experienced this type of loss, those were some wise words that I hope to remember should I ever need them, and that, I think I could apply to many other areas of life as well.

kyleighsgift said...

My baby girl was stillborn on April 5 of this year. I came across your blog through Faces of Loss and while this is the only post I have read, I appreciate your honesty and agree with it. My loss is still very fresh and present in my life. I have not ventured too far into baby loss communities for this reason. A lot of what is said is not for me to hear/read yet, but maybe in time. It should be a place of honesty and truth, not a place to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. We all know that life is not full of warm fuzzies! Thank you for being present in the baby loss community, for without it, I would not have found your story.