Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congratulations! ... Oh, I'm so sorry.

Our circumstances lend themselves to some uncomfortable encounters with innocent, well-meaning people. When Ray went back to work, there were plenty of times he had to correct congratulatory remarks and ultimately make many people uncomfortable. I luckily have not had many of these encounters myself (yet), but know that they are coming in larger numbers.

Though I haven't been back to substitute teaching quite yet (will likely go back in late January or early February), they have been notified. I just don't want to walk in the door with confusion and stares about why I am not home taking care of my newborn. While I know fellow teachers and staff are understanding, children are innocently oblivious. That will be a difficult road for me because most students knew I was pregnant (it was hard not to notice!) and many even know that the name we had picked for our son was Andrew. They would often ask how Andrew was doing by name. I just don't know how to properly engage with these students as this isn't something that should sadden them. It's unfortunate, but it may not be appropriate to share with a 3rd grader that my child has died. That will be a road I cross when I come to it.

As for the understanding of people near and far, we've never felt so loved and cared for. The school district I have subbed for since about April of 2010 sent me not only a nice plant form 1800flowers, but they also sent us a gift certificate to a restaurant in our area. I just never anticipated anything more than a card from people I know on a business-only level and especially not for a substitute! We've received cards from people we barely know and receive them everyday. While we don't need cards or gifts (so if you're reading this, please be under no obligation), we are appreciative that so many people are thinking and praying for us during this time.

Speaking of mail... my poor mail lady. Like I mentioned above, it was a bit hard to conceal my pregnancy and I wasn't trying. I was proud to be pregnant and embarking on becoming first-time parents with my most incredible husband. My mail lady knew we were expecting and came to the door to deliver a package. She said, "I notice you're no longer pregnant, congratulations!" Surely, she meant well. She wasn't at fault for congratulating me. I deserved the congratulations under normal circumstances. I wanted the congratulations, but have swapped those words and cards for sympathy cards instead. I tried to contain the tears when I told her the unfortunate news, but I just couldn't. I can't speak the words without crying. It made her very uncomfortable and I was not intending it to be that way. I felt terrible that she walked away feeling awkward and sad. I since wrote her a Christmas card and placed it in the mailbox letting her know that she had every right to congratulate us as we were expecting a child. What has happened was not her fault, nor ours. I thanked her for her service to our home and explained that although we are mourning, we still appreciate her.

In case you're wondering where your Christmas card is this year, we sent none. I recognize that Christmas is indeed a wonderful season, but this year was marked with much suffering for us. We just cannot write and send cheery cards to people when we aren't feeling that spirit. Know that we are feeling thanksgiving in spite of our tragedy, but that we are just not motivated at this time to send cards.

It's weird receiving Christmas cards mixed with sympathy cards. For Ray, he was receiving birthday cards in the midst of Christmas and sympathy cards. For two people who have never received a sympathy card in our lives before this tragic event, it's an odd feeling.

We haven't been back to church for an actual service since before Andrew was born. We went to see our church's Christmas musical, but I wish we hadn't. It was titled, "A Mother's Story" and images of newborns were on display everywhere. Having just given birth to my stillborn child 6 days prior, this was disheartening. I know the images were meant to portray baby Jesus (of which my child was not, haha), but the images were just rough. Seeing others with their infants in carriers was also difficult. There was a line in the play to the effect of, "No mother should ever have to watch her child die" (Mary speaking about Jesus sacrificing his life) and that surely sent me into a crying spree. I already knew it was coming as my friend had warned me ahead of time, but it didn't make the words any easier to hear. Though I know people have the best intentions and are there to love and pray for our healing, I just can't bear to cry walking into the doors. These people watched me through my pregnancy and though we will go back, we just haven't yet. I will forever be known as the woman who unfortunately lost her firstborn child. I'll forever be the person who will be spoken about in whispers and treaded lightly around when any discussion of babies arises. In moving here, that was one thing that Ray and I were most excited about. We had a new city and all new friends that would know us for who we are together. Living in LA, everyone knew the Brandy before Ray and we loved that they knew us as a couple only. Now, we have a new title. While it would be easier to just walk away from that church and those people, we feel at home there. These people were the ones praying for us and offering dinners, gifts, and their time. We love our friends and the community we have been introduced to. It's humbling to be that couple with the unfortunate tragedy and to have others care for us. We'll go back, but we just need time to heal us. Christmas needs to pass and baptisms of infants probably doesn't warrant our return. 

We were watching TV last night after engaging in some strenuous (haha) Wii Fit exercises and saw a commercial:

A woman sat in a rocking chair next to an unlit Christmas tree, holding her swaddled newborn baby. Her husband walked into the room and she told him to go back to bed because it was 2 a.m. He then replied by telling her that it was not just 2 a.m., but 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, as he plugged the Christmas tree lights in to illuminate the room. They both smiled as they embraced their child-- it was a special moment to be spending their first Christmas together as a family with their new child they just welcomed into the world.

My heart aches.


Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

This whole process is just so hard, but be mindful of taking care of yourselves...don't worry about other people feeling awkward and do what you need to do in order to heal. You guys are in my thoughts every day!


Solange, Nik and Caitlin said... [Reply to comment]

ugh. my heart aches for you. i miss you SOOOOOOO much.

d.a.r. said... [Reply to comment]

Oh how uncomfortable and painful. I am so sorry sweetie.

Sherrie said... [Reply to comment]

I am deeply sorry for your loss. I will pray for physical and emotional healing for you. God Bless.

JoyAndSorrow said... [Reply to comment]

(((HUGS))) I just want to hug you for feeling so bad for the mail lady. What a sweet girl you are. Please don't ever feel bad about others' feelings of awkwardness. They may have what, 5 minutes? 30 tops? Of awkwarness, while we have to deal with the devastation of living without our babies. We shouldn't have to feel ashamed or bad for being in the situation we're in or that we have to address its reality.