Saturday, November 1, 2008

secrets

I am good at keeping secrets. It seems like people can just sense this about me, because I have carried many secrets throughout my life. Most recently I was the bearer of a secret concerning a woman I work with. She is younger than I am, but has five children at home. She has a sixth child, too, a daughter who died of anencephaly. A few weeks ago she started to wonder if her lack of a period wasn't just caused by the birth control shot she was using, which the doctor had told her could cause her period to be scant. So she took a HPT and, low and behold, baby number seven is on its way.

All of her other children were planned, including the 15 month old who came after the one who died. That pregnancy was really hard for her. Her husband hadn't wanted to go down that road again. He was too scared to lose another and felt that their family was complete. She needed to have another baby. The pregnancy was not easy, though, and she ended up on IV meds through most of it due to extreme "morning" sickness. Through all of it she continued to work! She had a pick line in her arm and would administer the IV before and after work. He was supposed to be their last baby. But she didn't get her tubes tied like they had planned and, well, obviously the shot wasn't very effective.

She has been very scared. Since this pregnancy came as a surprise she wasn't taking the high dose of folic acid that is so vital during the early weeks when the neural tube is forming. But her 6 week ultrasound showed a beating heart. And while she is still realistic that things aren't guaranteed to go well, she shared her news with everyone else at work a week later. So now I don't have to carry her secret around any more. I am moved by her courage and optimism. I encourage it, too. I tell her that she brought five healthy babies into the world and what happened with her little girl won't necessarily happen again. I believe what I am saying to her. She is due six weeks after me. I pray so hard that our little babies will play together some day.

There was a time during my grieving process when it was difficult to be around mothers with their children, and especially to be around pregnant women. At first it was just too painful a reminder of what I had lost, and fear that I may never have. But after a while it turned to something more along the lines of anger. I found myself thinking that these women had no clue what a blessing it was that they had these children, that everything worked out for them. At some point, though, it settled in for me that there is no way for me to know what was in the hearts of these women. Just as there was no way for them to know, just by looking at me, of the loss that I have experienced.

6 comments:

Monica H said...

I am so glad you posted about this because even though we are the first to say it isn't right to judge, we are the first to do it. At least for me anyway...

A couple days ago at the bank (I stayed in the car while Mr. H went inside) a tall, thin blonde woman pushed her double stroller in front of my car. Inside were 2 newborn babies, bundled in blue. I was jealous of her and called her a bitch underneath my breath. I couldn't wait for Mr. H to come back so I could tell him what I saw.

He took longer than I expected him too. I had a few minutes to think about how I was going to unfold such news. Then I thought to myself, maybe these children were adopted. I felt better after that and hoped she was happy with them. I hoped her life felt a little more complete having them. And I wished for the same.

I changed my mind. She wasn't such a bitch after all.

Becky said...

I'm still guilty of it. I try so hard to keep my judgments and my anger to myself, but it's difficult at times. Once, when in the beginning of my pregnancy with Lily...I think maybe my very first appointment with the Peri, a woman walked in and the receptionist asked her if this was her first. Her first, no she replied...but hopefully her first living child. I think about her often and I pray that she is holding her sweet babe in her arms now too. I never saw her again.

Its a tough lesson, and it makes me wonder if other women do the same to me. Do they cast the same judgments that I have cast?

Beruriah said...

For the moment (it can always change), I've come to a kind of peace with pregnant women I know nothing about.

I so hope your babies will play together, too.

niobe said...

I sometimes feel terrified on behalf of pregnant women -- it's as if they have no idea about all the things that could go wrong. For a long time, I felt my heart twist whenever I saw boy-girl twins, but that's almost completely gone now.

But I still haven't been able to see or talk to the stepbrother who has a little girl pretty much exactly the age my twins would have been.

Julia said...

I am extrememly late to this-- trying to catch up. Wanted to say, though, that the first spring after A died, when the coats came off and you could see every pregnant woman, and it was warm enough for all the strollers, it felt like I couldn't look anywhere without seeing one or the other. I came up with this defense mechanism-- I made up sad stories for them. IF, miscarriages, adoption. Made me feel better, even if I knew that statistically every single one of them can't possibly have a sad story. But it worked... in the sense that I could walk down the street without bursting into tears. Usually.

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