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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > I don't want to hear it.

I'm 2 years out, so things aren't fresh anymore. But I still don't want to hear about other people's babies. If I ask, fine. But I don't even know how to ask the normal questions anymore. They don't concern me, they aren't important, they seem silly. Everyone focuses on the same rhetoric. How much do they weigh? How well are they sleeping? What was labor like? How is breastfeeding? Are you exhausted? Is she walking yet? Teething? It's like, I know the baby and you are alive, so I am not sure what to talk about, since it feels so trivial...because, you know, you and the baby are alive. I feel like I've lost the ability to actually care about normal baby things.

I have a new niece and my mother in law just told me about her sleeping and nursing habits, as if she was talking about the weather. I haven't met her yet, but I will, and I will do what I can. But being forced into conversation about these things was entirely triggering and unexpected and I felt a wall go up, and now I am pissed off, and I don't know if I even have a reason to be. Apparently, I should care about this and want to contribute to the conversation.
March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
I'm so sorry you got forced into this conversation. I wanted to let you know I'm 20 months in and feel exactly as you do, and I don't see it changing anytime soon. I simply cannot engage in "normal" pregnancy or baby convos with "normal" people. I just can't. And when I'm forced to against my will I'm usually stunned into silence and can't function for the next several hours.
March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew's Mom
I don't know if you should be angry or not. I think that depends on whether or not you have told your mother-in-law you don't want details, you can't process them at this time. Myself, I ignored all baby things for 21 years after my daughter died, so I'm not telling you that you should get with the program, that is for sure! It is very triggering and ladies, two years out +/- is not very long. At all. It still hurts horribly and the longing is still so present!

Elaine, if you want to talk about why the babble is needed and important, what it is for, we can do that. If you think the knowledge would be helpful to you, if you think seeing it in writing would help you cope. Just say so and I'll put down a couple of things it is for and you can think about it.

Your description of a wall going up is spot on. That is what I remember and what still happens to me on occasion. It is an instinctive protection against anyone touching the pain. I hope some peace has found you this evening after this.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Thanks Matthew's mom. Jill- I'm not sure I know what you mean by discussing why the babble is important. If you mean babble about the baby stuff, I know all about it because it was my life before loss. I participated fully and willingly as if it was the most exciting thing on earth.

I haven't seen my mother in law since the baby was born, so I do find it insensitive she brings up my sister in laws nursing habits and how tired they are and how the baby is sleeping as soon as she sees me. When I said I didn't have as hard of a time with nursing as I thought with my last baby (who died), she reminded me that was because "nobody was at the breast." 🙄

She just moves a mile a minute, is an emotional stuffer and doesn't think. I think it was insensitive. It is her effort to bring the family together but I will in my way and time. She desperately wants everyone to be happy and to talk about normal things. We wanted to spend time with them to see them, not immediately discuss all things baby.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Elaina, I'm so sorry you are feeling pushed and pressured! That sucks! I couldn't tell from your first post if you needed info on baby babble or not. That is on me and my lack of understanding. But if I am reading you right now, it is more a need to spit and swear because it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. You don't need to be pushed, love. You don't need to be "all better because it has been two years." It is never all better, because it is never okay that your baby is gone. Sending hugs and wishing you didn't have to deal with people trying to make you be something they need, instead of what is right for you.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Elaina,

The baby thing is still so hard, isn't it? I don't want to see them, hear about them except to know if they lived. I am about 18 months out from losing my daughter and its still so difficult. I thought it would be easier because I expected to have another baby here by now but there is none. And I am honestly not sure if that would help either.

I am not sure your mother in law can fully empathize with your situation. If she did perhaps she would ask - "would you like to hear or is it too hard for you, we understand". It would be kinder to ask, instead of forcing baby details upon you. Of course you are happy for your family member but have every right to feel sad, triggered, and hurt too.

The triggers are what I like least about my grief and PTSD. I feel that I can control the sadness now and hold it in. But when I am triggered and I try to hold it in its nearly impossible and I end up feeling drained, exhausted, and angry. I try to remind myself, I don't choose to feel this way. What we all would give to be able to do the small talk - especially about babies. But our babies are lost and so - yes- it feels so trivial and outright painful to be subjected to it. My question would be - what is your mother in laws intent? Is she just insensitive? Trying to include you? Or is she so wrapped up in her daughter's experience she has lost compassion for your situation?

I am not sure how you can tackle this without pissing someone off. But know that I get it, and it sucks, and is normal. At least it's the new normal for now. Wishing you peace.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Jill,

Thanks! I just wasn't sure what you were referring too. I'd never heard the term "baby babble" but I think it's very fitting! I think it's frustrating because a lot of it has to do with milestones, or "accomplishments", or measurements, or whatever. And those things just seem so trivial and weird to focus on. But it's what our culture does, it's what moms do together, it's just normal. I never looked at it that way before-- (but I have always thought it was stupid to put the weight, time of birth, length on the announcement card). I always thought...why aren't we supposed to share what this baby means to us, or something more valuable than stats?

Anyway, that's precisely the kind of relationship I have with my sister-in-law; she'd know it would hurt to talk about things such as this, so she would wait until I'm ready, and just kind of know in my presence what it actually means to have her baby here, alive, and how it is amazingly beautiful/horribly difficult all at once. She gets it. My mother-in-law isn't comfortable in that space. She would fill it with what you call the "babble"...nervous babble or just fitting babies into parameters of schedules and ounces and all of that. I think what bothered me most was that it was brought up multiple times right off the bat, when we were just wanting to visit with them, not discuss how their family was adjusting to the new baby. I don't really need to hear about her nursing difficulties unless I ask my sister-in-law myself. But, at this stage of the game I still think if the baby is alive, I don't really need to be that support. There are plenty of other baby-babblers who will willingly step in and address those things. I know MIL wants us to be one big happy family and sweep pain under the rug, but I do not believe in this kind of living. I am determined to live authentically and that means with thoughtful relationships. I think I did just want to vent because it just caught me off guard how much it hurt! You think you are doing good, and getting through the hard part, and then you just get so, so angry and realize it still hurts so very badly. I still think, "I couldn't have an alive baby. I suck. I'm the worst excuse for a mother." I still tell myself that narrative, when I am surrounded by normal moms and normal babies. Thanks for listening, Jill. I think it's wonderful to have your perspective.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Kim,

Thank you so much. I totally relate to everything you've said. And I am glad to hear that I am not alone at being 2 years out and still struggling like this from time to time with triggers. I firmly believe PTSD has been a significant part of my grief experience. There is a fine line between choosing to have perspective, gratefulness, and light in our lives again over time, and pressuring ourselves to feel happy and full and like it's all good- when it's not!

Her intentions are good, I believe. But, I think she is very wrapped up in them and playing a very active role in their current lives. So, I believe she has forgotten to be sensitive to us. I believe she is sending a message that this is how we "ought" to be. Happy for them, smiling, visiting, and sharing in their joy. She is the opposite of a "dweller"....she is an avoider. And, I believe she does this because she is very religious and chalks life events up to a greater plan, therefore making peace with them in a way I am unable and unwilling to.

I hate it when I am in a situation, caught off guard, and only later keep replaying it to decide what I should have said and done. It's too late now, and I'm not sure it makes sense after the fact to throw up a boundary. I feel so much that I need to go at my own pace, and yes, she is forcing me to catch up to where they are- and I cannot.

I picked out three little books for my niece in a bookstore the other day. And to me, that was something much more meaningful than chatting about length of sleep and feeding habits.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
I also think it hurts because there is a level of shame in seeing what my sister-in-law can "gift" to the family....a healthy baby...and what I was incapable of giving them. I hate to admit that, but I know I feel that deep inside. So, to hear my mother-in-law's joy over her, and her fawning over her and her milestones and all of that, just makes me feel so much worse.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Baby babble is my way of describing it. Not very nice, maybe, but true! :-D One of the problems I have with it is that it is used, whether the talkers know it or not, to ease their fears and to be given reassurance that all is well. That the sleeping, eating, etc, are all normal and that every thing is okay. I can't say that anymore. I can't be very reassuring. The closest I can come it that x,y,z sounds okay, but keep an eye on it. And then shut my mouth because I know too damn many ways for babies to die now!

I've got grandchildren now and if my daughter asks me about anything she has seen or noted and that worries her, she relaxes 99% if I say I don't think it is a problem, you don't need the doctor. Because she knows I have hysterics inside my head at the drop of a hat. She asked me about something once, I can't even remember what, and I called her back and told her it was fine, I couldn't even find any babies on the internet that had died because of what she was describing. I wasn't thinking, Elaina, just reacting to what I see as reality.

You can give love. That is what it sounds like you offer your sister-in-law. Love and joy. Reassurance and light hearted happiness just don't come easy anymore.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Jill,

So true. I never thought about that, but it makes so much sense. Everything they talk about and share is in relation to the health and well-being of the baby, in attempt to normalize what is happening, and get reassurance in the commonality of the norm. I never thought about that before. And then sometimes, it's just bragging, showing off what has been accomplished early or easy... in effort to show not the normalcy necessarily, but the over-achievement of parent or baby. Above normal!

I think I'll see baby babble a whole new way, now. This has been educational. I still can't partake and now I understand why it bugs me so much. I think what I've seen is the braggy-side which is so irritating and if the baby is okay, then I can't go there.
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Elaina, I had not made the connection between pride/bragging to our guilt and shame triggers. It is nice to figure out just what exactly hurts now and then, other than the all encompassing fact of the baby not being here. It helps, me at least, to not feel so crazy and out of control. I'm not flying of the handle for no reason what so ever, I have a reason!

Still, I wish none of us had to know these things or think them through. Peace to you!
March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Elaina- Thanks for this post. I am glad to find it here, especially as I come to Glow just having survived my second post-loss baby shower this weekend. My very best friend is having a baby in a month. She invited me to the shower, and was very kind in following the invite with "I totally understand if you don't want to come, so no pressure at all". But she has been my best friend forever, and probably my most supportive friend (which isn't exactly saying much, but still) post-loss, so I wanted to be there for her. And it was OK. I had to remove myself a few times from stupid conversations when a few things came up:
1) A new mom talking about how great it feels to go from super-pregnant to not at all pregnant after having the baby (my last memory of this is sheer pain and dismay at having a post-partum body without a baby to hold)
2) Someone talking about their disappointment at having a scheduled c-secion in a week since their baby is breech
3) During a conversation about frustrations in sleep training (one woman finished her complaints with "I know I should just be happy that she's healthy and everything but..." I walked away before the end. I assumed this was some kind of nod to me?)
I tried to participate as best I could. One woman, whom I haven't seen since my loss, did awkwardly bring up how sorry she was for my loss. Although ill-timed, I appreciated someone mentioning him. I could tell she wanted to say something while we were talking but didn't know when to say it or what exactly to say. There was another acquaintance there with her 6.5 year-old daughter. Someone had told me a while back that she had a child who was born with something congenital. She didn't say what it was, but did say that his days were numbered. Her little boy is 3.5 right now. I figured if she can make it through this baby shower, then so can I.

On the weight and length, I actually left this information off my email birth announcement when we had our first son who was born healthy. I had a friend who was due a month after me whose baby ended up being born a week before mine. He was and is totally fine, but I know he was in the NICU for a short time, and there was of course some stress in having a baby almost 6 weeks premature. So I thought about the weight thing and then figured it really was just bragging. I assume it's a throw-back to a time when many more babies were not born healthy, and this information was critical in indicating how one should react to a birth announcement... maybe that's an incorrect assumption, but I think putting the weight and length on a birth announcement is a little silly at this point (as you said, if we can assume the baby is fine, that's all the information we need).

I don't think I will ever go back to being able to chit chat about "baby babble" as you two put it. Another topic that came up of course was sleep training. Our first son never slept well, and we were always terrible at sleep training. But what really sealed the deal for me (i.e. I'm DONE with sleep training) was when we found out our second baby was going to die. I remember being repulsed by the irony of letting one baby cry in a crib when all he wanted was to be held, while all I wanted was to hug and hold the other baby I was carrying. I ended up in a sleep training conversation a few weeks ago and after dancing around the pros and cons of different approaches, finally just told her why I really threw in the towel. So yeah that ended that one.

I guess all this is a way of saying that I feel your frustration and pain. Like you, I was given a very bad prognosis at our 20 week ultrasound, and I have a particular sensitivity when people think ultrasounds are for seeing the baby, finding out the sex, and not for determining health and viability. I don't think I will ever go back to engaging in baby babble, certainly not as I did before. But you know what? That's OK. There are plenty of substantive things to discuss; enough things in my life and in this world to fill hours of conversations without pretending to sympathize with someone's silly newborn/post-partum issues. Tell your mother-in-law you are still sensitive to these topics, and to not engage you on them. My friend who is due in a month- I didn't realize until I was at the shower, that she really has sensored herself throughout her pregnancy. Our other friends who are also moms were all bringing used items for her to borrow. I realized then that she hasn't asked me about anything, and hasn't asked me for anything. At first I was upset that I couldn't participate, since pre-loss, I would have loaded my car with a ton of stuff for her to borrow. But really, I am grateful for her sensitivity and while I will never be able to participate in some parts of her having a baby, I am sure I will love him or her once she arrives, which is the important part.
March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
This has been really insightful, thanks Jill A, I too never thought of the baby babble in that way. Here is what happened to me the other day...

My co worker and good friend is 35 weeks pregnant at the moment and the other day as we sat down to lunch my other good friend and co worker excitedly started talking to the pregnant one about the baby, talking about nappies, newborn clothes and lack of sleep to come, as well as commenting on how much the baby is moving and what it means. The pregnant friend was trying her best to avoid all baby talk for my sake but the other friend didn't get the hint and I wanted to scream at her "it means nothing because they can still die and you will have to pack all of the baby things away!", but I thought to myself no, that is exactly what they used to say to me, and they don't REALISE how much it hurts.

The next day my pregnant friend wasn't at work and the other friend was talking to other people about their circumstances and I thought to myself that's it, they are simply having a conversation about each others lives and that's all it is, no harm intended.

Oh Elaina can I just quote and rearrange I also think it hurts because there is a level of shame in seeing what my fiancé's brother's girlfriend can "gift" to the family... a healthy baby girl, whom was the second grand daughter as mine was the first but was she really because she died... and what I was incapable of giving them. I hate to admit that, but I know I feel that deep inside." My MIL hasn't spoken of the other grand daughter, who was born three months after the first, and I have made it clear that we can not hear about it until we are ready. It's the same on my side of the family too, my brothers wife had a baby six months before which I could handle because it was a boy and came before mine but four weeks after we buried our baby they announced they were pregnant again, now almost 20 weeks and it makes me cringe. I'm so worried it will be another girl too. You almost get this irrational thought when you hear of other peaople's healthy births and babies.. like "what, did their baby live?", your brain is reduced to mush and you can't comprehend how your baby can die a horrible random death and their's can be healthy.

As for those dam milestone cards, they suck and are stupid.

Thanks everyone.
March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElla
Abby,

Thank you so much. I guess this is a pretty raw thread...and I didn't hold back...and I am glad it resonated with someone else.

I am glad I am not the only one who thought about these things both before and after loss. I too was terrible at sleep-training, (although it was coincidentally very strongly advised by my mother-in-law who said crying was essential for lunch development, lol), I could not do it in good conscience or find it necessary.

I wonder too about the "stats" of birth. I really do believe that Jill is completely onto something- sharing stats, abilities, accomplishments, concerns is all annoyingly frustrating, but the noise of it is entirely because of motherly insecurities and anxiety-- needing to know you're doing okay and baby is okay-- even subconsciously-- by comparison alone! But, I do also know a fair share of people who know they are fine and just want to show-off. I ain't got no time for that. We live in a very braggy culture (i.e. social media, blessings, etc, etc)...and I am so over that whole thing. But I'm all about being an individual and not conforming just to conform.

It sounds like you did a very selfless thing to go to the baby shower and to show support while trying to keep in check your own feelings and respect your own boundaries. It's almost as if to do something like that you have to put your wall up, prepare yourself, and then excuse yourself before the wall starts to crash down and emotion spills out...you don't come out unscathed, but you look like you do. I guess we can all do that at different times, and it's important to decide when you're ready to push yourself (and for who!!!) and when you just can't. It has made a difference for me when a friend has been sensitive, too. I am careful about who and what I extend myself for.

Ultrasounds...I totally agree. I know two people announcing their pregnancy at a few weeks, gender at 11 weeks, etc. I just kind of miss the days when the world seemed more humble. I think it's all social media to blame...it's just changed our culture.

No hate for those who love this sort of thing, even post loss...it just is a trigger for me, personally.
March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
I think I will say something to mother-in-law. I don't want to be forced into conversations she thinks I "ought" to be desiring to have, or able to have. I'm just not.
March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Ella,

Yes...shame. I don't think it's something we talk about enough, but we are "supposed" to do this certain thing as women, and when we CAN'T make it happen, or change the circumstances...and someone else can...another woman can...and everyone smiles and is joyous and celebrates and compliments her...it just feels like, in the core of my being, I am not as good. I think that stems back to what we are told about who women are in a culture, and their value, and how we are "blessed with children or cursed with being barren" (the Bible)...giving sons to the family, etc...ugh.

I am sorry you have to go through life shielding yourself as we all do.
March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina