I'm going to try to stay on topic today. I'm not very good at it.
Since James died, I've been asked several times by people who don't know my story if I have a family, or how many children I have, or if I have kids, etc. And I don't know what to say to them.
Most of the time, I find myself answering that no, no family, no kids, just my husband and me. Because to tell a random person who comes up to me while I'm working, asking questions that they don't really care to know the answer to, it's just depressing. And hard to say succinctly without sounding blunt. "Oh, I had one, but he was stillborn;" is not awesome conversation while handing someone a pound of coleslaw.
But there are other times I've said no when they asked if I had kids. Sitting next to a woman on a bench, talking, I said no. I think part of it is to protect myself. People pity those who have experienced that kind of loss. They try to say reassuring things, like, "well, you're young, you'll have another;" or "at least you can get pregnant." But those hurt just as much. I don't just want another baby, I want the one I lost. And we may NOT just be able to have another. We had to go through 3 years of infertility and an IUI to get James. And so far have undergone 2 more IUIs and waited 7 months "for another.". It's not as easy as it seems. Besides, just because we can theoretically have another baby does not make losing one better, easier or less important.
Even when I say 'no," though, people say hurtful things. "You're too young to have kids." "Wait a few years, you'll be glad you did," Lady, I knew I wanted kids early when I was 14. When I got married at 20, I wanted to start a family right away. I don't want to "be free" while I'm young; I want to give my energy and love to a baby now, while I have energy to give. I want to be a mother. Don't assume that because you regret having kids early, or think that kids are a burden, or that being in your 20s is an excuse to be immature and make mistakes that I believe that. Don't tell me to wait till I'm older, and have them as a second thought, as an "Oh, well, I've partied hard, but my body can't handle it any more... I know, I'll pop out a kid or two and be done with it." I don't agree with that. If you do, fine. But don't expect me to live my life by your ideals.
Sorry, I didn't mean to rant.
This post was supposed to be more about thinking through how I want to respond to people who ask questions. I don't want to deny James' existence. And if people want to know, I'm happy to tell them.
I was wearing my necklace (James' name and birthdate, and a picture of his footprints) at Target a few weeks ago. I had decided that if someone ever asked me how many kids I have, I would reply with something like, "One angel baby." Everyone knows what that means, right? And it's quick and not abrupt. Well, this woman asked me what my necklace was. I said it was my angel baby's name and footprints, and she replied, "Oh, how old is he now?" I said he had been stillborn in August. Even when I use the term "Angel Baby" some people don't get it... they should count themselves lucky to be unfamiliar with the term. Since then I have not used the phrase with strangers.
It's just hard. I feel like I lose no matter what. Either I bother people, they bother me, or we bother each other... there is no calm, un-upsetting way to explain what happened.
I still don't have an answer. I'm not sure what I'll say the next time someone brings up me having kids. I'm sure I'll just take it one situation at a time and roll with the punches. After all, I've already dealt with such a difficult thing. What's one more cutting remark?