I know pregnant women are cute and exciting.
I know when you saw me walk up you felt joyous because you too are a mother and everything about motherhood and childbirth is magical to you. I know you mean well and had every intention of being kind and uplifting. I know you weren’t trying to hurt me when you asked me if this was my first pregnancy, or when you started telling me about the miracle of childbirth, and how I won’t understand until I am there in labor, and about how afterwards when I hold my baby and “all the pain goes away.” As I stood there feeling dizzy, like I needed to run and escape this, I tried to remember you had no intention to hurt me.
But you did hurt me, your words of “encouragement” ripped right through me.
Your words reminded me how my son doesn’t exist in this world, especially to the people around me that can’t see him, so they assume he never existed. I didn’t walk up pregnant while also trying to chase after my toddler, like I should have been. I walked up with just myself and my growing belly, which holds my second child. The “first one” isn’t here, and you reminded me of that. It’s not that I needed a reminder really, I know he’s gone everyday; it was more that I was reminded no one else knows that, no one else knows he’s real. I have experienced childbirth, the same way you did, like all of our mothers did. I tore vaginally, I pushed out a placenta, my breast milk came in, everything you experienced, I did too. That feeling afterwards you told me about, I felt that too, except the pain didn’t go away, it deepened and it still felt today.
The thing is, I didn’t want to tell you this, because I came for an avocado.
I already feel like breaking down every second of the day because this isn’t my first pregnancy, and I didn’t want to start crying right there, in front of you and everyone else. I left and went to my car and cried. I know you had the best of intentions, I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but you did. I understand the topic is stillbirth is new, although it has been happening as long as women have been giving birth, but we need to have this conversation. You need to know you can’t ask every pregnant mom if this is her first, you can’t assume you know everyones story.
You are not the first person to ask me this question.
You are not the first person to assume I am a first time mom. And I get it, pregnancy is exciting, pregnant women are cute. But pregnancy is not exciting for everyone. This isn’t our first pregnancy, this isn’t our first child. It’s easy to assume because I will never be walking around with my first, because he’s not here. But he was real, as was my experience as a first time mother. It is extremely difficult to always have that conversation with stranger, to share the most important part of my son that I have and can hold: his memory. But something you need to know is, and I say this with the best intentions, you are a stranger, and it’s none of your business. It is none of your business if this child is my first or really anything about myself that is personal, and truthfully, pregnancy is personal. Women’s bodies are personal and don’t need to be questioned when we are out for some avocados. We are around you everyday, and we want you to know that our babies died; we want everyone to know that our babies died.
I also understand it is really not your fault.
It is not your fault stillbirth and infant loss is still a taboo subject, still feared like the plague and forcefully forgotten like a shameful past. We need to open up the space for stillbirth, for the mothers to have a voice. We need to talk stillbirth, and it needs to be known bye everyone how much of a present day reality it is. I don’t hate you for being like most and not knowing, not understanding, and truly only wanting to talk about something that excites you. But your excitement hurts me and that is important too.