Friday, September 25, 2009

"Oh you had a baby?! How old?"

So far, this dreaded question has only come up twice that I can recall. The first time was when I was at the dentist about a month ago. I had to fill out the health questionnaire before the appointment, and one of the questions was "Have you been under the care of a physician in the past year?" To which I replied, "yes". Then I didn't know if I should put "pregnancy" after that or leave it blank. If I put pregnancy, then I know the questions will come up....but then again if I leave it blank then they'll ask why and then I'll have to say pregnancy and then the questions will come...Of course I could always put "pregnancy-stillbirth". But that is automatically awkward. I ended up leaving it blank.

Sure enough, the nurse comes in and asks me about the form. She asked why I was under the care of a physician. I winced, and said pregnancy. Then my heart started beating out of my chest as she asked, "Oh you had a baby?! "Yes." "Boy or girl?" "Boy." At this point I'm hoping she'll just stop with the questions, but no. "How old?" I didn't say anything for a second, because I wasn't quite sure what to say. So I just said matter-of-factly, "It was a stillbirth." She said absolutely NOTHING! Not even, "Oh I'm so sorry!" Finally she came around from behind me and asked while she was working, "So you had a miscarriage, or what?" I realized that she was from the Philippines, so I thought that maybe she just didn't know what the term stillbirth meant. I told her it was a stillbirth, which was a late-term thing. I tried very hard to keep the tears inside, and I succeeded.

My second experience was a week ago. I was getting my haircut, and the girl cutting my hair was getting freaked out by the massive amounts of hair I was losing. To ease her concerns, I told her it was just postpartum hair loss (which has lasted awhile for me, but is now ending thankfully!). Right when I said that, I regretted it. She asked, "Oh how old is your baby?" Honestly, I didn't want to go through it again because I was already nervous about my drastic haircut. So I lied. I said, "6 months." She asked, "Boy or girl?" And I said, "Boy." It actually felt a bit nice to say that--like how awesome it would be if that were true! But then it also was pretty depressing...because it is so not true.

It's definitely an inner battle for me when these questions arise. I've figured out that if it's someone who I will never see again, then it's not worth going into. But if it's someone who I know well or will be spending lots of time with, it's better to just tell them. I think that eventually I will get to a point where when asked how many children I have, I will tell them, "A 2-year old son, and a baby boy in Heaven."


  1. I can only imagine how hard that must be for you. Don't be upset with other people - they mean well, but how do you respond to something like that? I always thought the customary "I'm sorry" sounds shallow. I like your last response("A 2-year old son, and a baby boy in Heaven").

  2. Thanks for the comment, Marion! I know it is very difficult knowing what to say to someone who is grieving. "I'm sorry" is just fine in my book. :)

    The purpose of this blog is so I can write about how I truly feel in situations like these-even if I am in the wrong. Yes, I did walk away from my dentist appointment feeling upset, but it wasn't because of her lack of response. It was because I had to share this intimate detail of my life to get my teeth cleaned. And honestly, I don't want to share it with people who can't handle hearing about it. I don't have it in me to deal with other people feeling uncomfortable. All I can do is take care of myself.

  3. Filipinos usually say what's on their minds and are brutally nosy (I think that would be the word for it). They don't mean it in a bad way, it's just how they are.

    source: my mom is Filipino

    Your baby is beautiful.