I take it back

I take back what I said about the poor woman who told me about her daughter-in-law’s stillbirth. Normally, I still stick with the “don’t tell pregnant women about bad things that could happen to them” rule. But, man, I was a witness to the following event yesterday which totally changed my attitude about this particular interaction.

The woman in question (Person 1) was telling another person (Person 2) about the stillbirth, which (I didn’t realize this the first time) happened quite recently. Person 2 was making comments which I knew in my infertile heart of hearts were not really super helpful, but weren’t too horrible, you know, the sympathetic-but-not-really-understanding-how-bad-it-is kind of comments. Person 1 was pouring her heart out a bit, poor thing, and I tried to throw in a few sympathetic remarks that recognized the gravity of the situation. Then Person 3, who was listening in on the conversation, decided to lighten up the conversation by changing the topic to… a cheerful discussion of my bump and the upcoming baby in there.

I was horrified, in part because I don’t really want my baby discussed in the same breath as stillbirth, but, more importantly because… let’s get real, my baby is not a substitute for the one that died! It is not a consolation to Person 1 to know that I may have a live baby! Oh man, my heart so went out to her.

That’s when I got why she told me about it, even though she knew I was trying to not freak out about my pregnancy. When I heard her story I had a physical reaction of total horror to it. I got how awful it was. And there are so few people who really recognize how terrible it is, and are also willing to sit with you to face the horror.


1 Comment »

  1. Molly said

    I’m a long-time lurker here, trying to gain perspective on my own experiences. I’m commenting on this post because it really strikes a chord with me and I find myself reading and re-reading it. As devastating as the story is, I keep coming back to it because you’ve defined empathy (and described why people seek empathy) in a way that helps me to become a more empathetic person. Thanks and good luck.

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