Friday, September 18, 2009

Is this your first?

Over the past 9 months, Cynthia and I have been asked this question too many times than we'd like to remember. At the store, at the pool, at restaurants, during conversations with complete strangers, at the hospital and even at the clinic from a few nurses.

I know that to most people this is just an innocent question used to strike up a conversation. But to those who have lost a baby or miscarried or lost their child later in life, this question is a very difficult one to respond to.

And it also has made me wonder why people ask us this question all the time? Do we look young? Is it because we aren't physically carrying another baby around with us? Do we need to look older? Or more tired from sleepless nights caring for a baby?

We were sitting in the waiting room this past Tuesday and this question was posed to me by a father as they sat down next to us.

"Is this your first?"

"No, this is our second."

He went on to share with me a story about how when his first child was born they sang Happy Birthday to the baby in the hospital. And I just left it at that.

It felt good to tell him matter-of-factly that the baby inside Cynthia's belly is not our first, and in not so many words that our first daughter is still very much a part of us. And frankly, I was a little frustrated at the smug way he purposed this question to me and went on to share his story, so a short reply seemed appropriate.

I know most people mean well. I know they just don't know. Like I said, I know this question just seems innocent.

But either way, we've removed it from our vocabulary. We've found other ways to strike up conversations with pregnant women and fathers. We realize that it's better to avoid this probing question and ask something else.

I've also found that I'm not afraid anymore to tell people about Cara. Earlier in my grief journey, I was often hesitant to share my story, I didn't have as much strength to "go there" with complete strangers. But now, I don't shy way - Cara, even Cara's tragic death, is a part of me that I just have to share. And even though our society isn't comfortable talking about death, I'm trying to change that norm. Death is unavoidable, and for many of us, much more than people think, it's unfortunately a part of our story. And a part of us that needs to be shared and heard.


Salma said...


You've summed up what I have been feeling and talking about lately.
And like you, I am so mindful of how I approach a pregnant woman and what I ask her...

I wish that people can think the same about others, but I guess it comes with having the experience. Sadly, many people will never know how we feel.

Lea said...

This is so true. I'm glad you are feeling more comfortable telling Cara's story now... I feel the same way. It doesn't necessarily get 'easier', as much as it just becomes a part of our life now. Cara will always be such a huge presence in your family. You should be proud of that.