People Mean Well, But…

Being in hiding for so long did have its advantages. Double A and I got to be in our own little world, without the bother, worry or excitement from others. This was our secret, and we had built a cocoon to protect us from the outer world. It helped that Chicago had one of its worst, and longest winters, which gave us the excuse to stay in and/or bundle in layers. We didn’t have to deal with the sideways glances, or people wondering why I wasn’t drinking. And when we were out, I knew that the focus wasn’t on me, rather Baby Boy, and no one was the wiser.

There’s something nice about not having to focus on it. Truthfully, we didn’t want to deal with the questions, looks of fear and pity, or over-excitement. We were unsure of what was going to happen, and to some extent, we still are. Not to mention, that while I’m no longer superstitious, there’s still a part of me that worries that if I say something, bad things will happen.

Of course there came a point where I was no longer able to hide. A point that we knew if we were going to see family and friends, we’d have to let them know. But we wanted to control the message and do so in a mindful manner. We allowed our parents to tell select family and friends with the caveat that they don’t go overboard with excitement or questions, and they don’t share, or G-d forbid, post something on social media. We told some in person, and sent others low-key emails. It’s terrible that something that should be shouted from the mountaintops, for us, has been relinquished to an “oh by the way” passing comment.

As we’ve slowly started to “come out” in real life, we’ve had a mix of responses, many of which go under the “people mean well, but…” category:

You’re pregnant AGAIN?!?
This response—which was the first thing out of some people’s mouths when we told them—comes across as a combination of shock and accusation. It has the What the f*ck are you guys thinking? undertones as if the only reason we’re doing this is to tempt fate, and not grow our family. This one often caught me off-guard, and unable to respond with anything other than a bite-my-tongue smile.

That’s OK that you didn’t tell us until now.
Really? That’s OK? Do we need your permission to tell us what we should do here? What an odd thing to say. I have no problem answering this one bluntly: Quite frankly, it isn’t up to you to give us the OK. We’re doing what we need to do.

You’re how far along? You’re into the safe zone! You’re totally in! You’re golden!
Yes, I wish and hope this is true. It’s just that I know too much. I’ve been through too much to be able to fully subscribe to this. My reply: We are grateful of where we are today, and hopeful that things will continue on this path.

Doesn’t that always happen? You adopt, and then you get pregnant!
I hear this one at least once a day, and it makes my blood boil. This is the equivalent to people saying, ‘everything happens for a reason’ to us after each of our losses. I don’t believe in that either. Sure BB is an amazing addition to our family, and has been a great focus and distraction from the anxiety and fear, but he is not the reason. Stress may have played a role in not being able to get pregnant, but I don’t think it played into not being able to stay pregnant.

More importantly, why say anything? It’s like people have to justify, and make sense of everything that happens in life. Well, let me tell you, life doesn’t work that way. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” I still haven’t figured out the best response to this one, and would love to hear your thoughts.

Oh thank goodness you’re pregnant, and you didn’t get fat!
OK, this one I just think is just hilarious. A dear friend said this to me, and then moved on. It was perfect, actually.

Throughout all of our experiences, we have been faced with people saying a lot of odd, sometimes hurtful, things. I know for the most part, people mean well, and they often say something—anything—to just fill the discomfort of empty space. At the same time, I wish they would think first, and realize something simple speaks much louder.

I have to say that while we’ve heard a lot of dumb comments, we’ve also received a lot of support, love and thoughtful ones. Overall people have been shocked and thrilled, but scared. Understandable. So are we.

What’s the best/worst thing you heard after a loss or when you announced being pregnant after loss? How did you respond?

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6 thoughts on “People Mean Well, But…

  1. People don’t know what to say and I think they feel like they need to fill the gap. I think it is the small talk that makes people “open mouth, insert foot”. It’s crazy, even from people that you love and adore. Their were times I thought “seriously, what the hell”, I even had to say to my own mother please just don’t say things anymore.
    All this to say, EVERY moment, EVERY hour, EVERY day, is one day closer to the babe on the outside. I don’t have a magic ball to predict the outcome of this pregnancy, nor do you or anyone else but I am still cautiously optimistic this will all turn out well. Mazel tov again!

    • I couldn’t agree more that people talk to fill the gap, and also think that they say things to make themselves feel better. I get it, and yet I just wish people would take a moment to just think first. We’ll take your cautious optimism and hang onto it tightly as we step through these next few weeks. Thank you for that.

  2. Oh god. I don’t have anything to share–but I live 1500 miles from my nuclear family and 3000 from the extended fam…. The latter learned of the situation the day T was born! 🙂

    • I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact, I’ve told you many times that if we could’ve waited until he was here, breathing and healthy, we seriously would have considered it.

  3. Man have I heard some doozies as well. I think you’re right that people somehow want to “make sense” of tragedy. They want so badly to believe the world is a good, safe place. We know all too well it isn’t always. You handle everything with grace and I’m sure you did the same when you got some of these comments!

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