A comment left by Niobe on my last post got me thinking. She asked if my new boss knew my history.
No, not exactly. She knows I had a child die, because she asked if I was pregnant with my first and I gave my stock answer, "no, I had a son who passed away" Most people don't ask for details after that. Some do, but she didn't. So she doesn't know that my son that died related to pregnancy at all. And therefore, can be forgiven for not understanding why I don't want to yet put in my leave for maternity at this time.
But, how much to tell? It is a tough question. In this case, rather than get into my emotional reasons for not wanting to do what she asked, I filled out the leave slip. It just seemed easier. However, in lots of conversations, I do tell more details. Most people at my old work branch knew I lost my son during pregnancy, even though I wasn't at that branch at the time. It came up during conversations, and they got more details.
Being pregnant again, it seems more of an issue. People ask about if you have other children. Yes, but not here with me. Do they need to know more? And in what instances should I say more? At work, it seems appropriate because I will be spending a fair amount of time with these people, and if they know, then they may be more understanding of any at work pregnancy freak outs that may happen. What about strangers? There have already been a few instances where I can tell the stranger speaking to me about my current pregnancy thinks it is odd I am not more excited. And lots of times, I feel the urge to explain why. Other times, I feel exhausted by my history. I don't know you! Go away! Quit making me feel like I need to hand you my medical files!
It might be easy to think I never have to say a word. It isn't easy for me though. I swore I would never not include M, in any way, when talking about my children. I would feel worse if I didn't mention him, avoiding the whole issue altogether. I have to include him, he's my baby.
I also swore after a stillbirth happened to me, that I would talk about it, because I truly believe our silence it what keeps it happening. Keeps money from being spent on research, keeps women alone with their grief. I want to educate, and sometimes education means just putting something out there, something people have never heard about, unless it happened to them.
During a walk around a local park a few weeks ago, I started talking to two women. Of course, we had to talk about my pregnancy. In that talk, my history came out. One of the women told me in return about her multiple miscarriages, and how she was taking a break from trying, and maybe looking into adoption. I hadn't until that moment mentioned my miscarriage, just my loss of M. We then talked about how hard it was, how people didn't understand the heartache, how strong the urge is to have a child. I will probably never see this woman again, but for that one moment, she remembered she wasn't alone in her struggles, and I remembered I wasn't either.
So there are lots of reasons to talk, to tell the whole story. But I can't always figure out when. Sometimes it seems like too much info, you know, the person was just asking how I was! Or in the case of my work, it didn't seem to follow a natural flow of conversation at the time, but then I ended doing something I didn't want to do yet. So, when and how much to tell?
I feel the need to admit something here. As much as I truly want to educate about stillbirth, I have found myself not always using the word "stillbirth". I have faced a lot of ignorance over that term,people don't know what it means. I say, "died at birth" or "died just before birth" even though, that doesn't really accurately describe my personal experience. This issue might be another post. Maybe I am a wee bit of a hypocrite? Mmmm...introspection for the future....