Monday, March 23, 2009

How Do You Answer That?

I know early on after Dylan's death, my most difficult moments were when people asked if we had any children. When everything was still fresh and raw, the easy-out response was "no". It kept us from having to go into a long, drawn-out story and prevented the inevitably uncomfortable situation of having to tell a complete stranger that your child is in Heaven. But when our answer was "no", I immediately felt lousy afterwards. I felt like I wasn't honoring Dylan's life and that I was doing my son a huge disservice. I would cry and tell Justin, "What am I saying? Of course we have a child!" Those were some of my most emotional breakdowns.

Now, it's over 9 months later, and we are both comfortable talking about Dylan and bragging about him, just like any other parent. And I think the question has come up more often lately because I am currently pregnant. The usual questions are brought up: "How far along are you?" "Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?" "Is this your first?" When they get to that last question, which they inevitably do, I say with confidence, "no, this is my second" and leave it at that. Most people continue with the expected follow-up, "Oh, how old is your first?" I respond, "My first would be 9 months, but he passed away." The look of discomfort that that line delivers almost makes me feel bad for them though. They don't know what to say, and they wished they hadn't asked at all. They usually say, "Oh, I'm sorry". But I get the impression that they're not apologizing for my loss but for the fact that they put themselves in that position to begin with.

While I will never feel comfortable going back to responding with "This is my first" or "We have no other children", I do wonder how to ease the discomfort for people asking me that question for the first time. It just happened again last week while meeting a work contact, and immediately after she apologized profusely, I just changed the subject for everyone involved in the conversation. It definitely took the edge off.


Sara said...

I feel like we are living very similar lives right now. Each time I read your post, I can sympathize. I am having the same questions asked and it is difficult. It never gets easy finding the right way to answer. But I agree - I am not comfortable lying about this being my first child. I love her terribly, but she is not my first born.


Domestic Goddess said...

If only there was an answer that would do justice to your story, I really don't think there is and in a casual conversation of "is this your first" I can only imagine how hard it is to come up with an answer that fits the mold of that small time frame that could really explain what happened. I think you do what feels right to you and your heart and your desire to honor Dylan. I am sure that can be different with each person you encounter but as long as your response sits well in your heart, that is ALL that matters!