Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Is he your first baby?

... or 'Is he your only one?'...  perfectly innocent questions, normal questions, along the same vane as do you have any children I used to be asked. It is a question I used to struggle with though, still do to a certain extent. Only now I'm asked if Xander is my first baby. I dread being asked but know I'm going to be time and time again.  Every time we go to a new mother and baby/toddler group,  or strike up conversation with somebody at soft play, and today, with a worker at the bank. 

I can't deny Anabelle, I just can't.  

Alexander is not my first baby. 

I've learnt to be fairly matter of fact about it for the most part, but you can never quite predict how the answer is going to be met. I still don't have a 'standard' answer as it were.

You can guarantee people are going to be completely apologetic that they even asked. Some people stutter and stammer and don't know what to say to me. They struggle to even change the subject so you are met with awkward silence. To be honest this has been the worst bit about mother and baby groups, feeling sometimes like a bit of a social outcast.  I sometimes wonder if people think being a bereaved parent is catching. 

Some people over compensate and go on to say how extra special Alexander must be then. Of course he is, but he would've been special if his sister was alive too. 

And sometimes people know how to sensitively carry on a conversation with me. Today was one of those days. 

I had to visit the bank to sort out Alexander's savings account. The lady had a baby only a few weeks younger than Xander, infact her son had been born on his due date! We exchanged '14 month' only stories, as you do when talking to a mother of an infant of a similar age. Then she asked the question.

Is he your first baby? 

Today I answered 'No, he is actually our 2nd. We have a little girl but we lost her toward the end of pregnancy.' 

Of course she was apologetic. That she was sorry to hear that, and that Alexander must be a real ray of sunshine then. The usual response. 

But then she went on to tell me about her friend who's little girl had died at a month old. Common ground, someone in her circle has experienced infant death too.  Part of her was able to empathise with me; through her role as a friend. She sensitively asked how I had coped being pregnant with him and if we had been well looked after. She asked if we planned anymore. She was warm and open and just really easy to talk to. I didn't feel awkward talking about Anabelle, to a complete stranger!  I had only gone to move money around Alexander's bank accounts! I hope she didn't feel awkward either. 

In daily Mummy and baby life I have two options. I can either pretend he is my one and only or I can be honest. Its not always easy being honest, sometimes I'm just too tired to reassure other people they haven't said the wrong thing. On the odd occasion where I've tried mutely grunting and not going into the truth about my children I've felt wracked with guilt afterwards. Sometimes I haven't felt strong enough to talk dead children with random strangers, but on those few occasions I've deeply regretted that I let her down. I'm not ashamed of her. I don't want there to be a stigma because she is dead. 

I couldn't go today, but next month I've decided, as part of my healing and healthier grief in 2013, that I'm going to join the local Sands Rainbow Babies monthly meet. A mother and tots group of sorts; stay and play in a family friendly cafe with hot drinks for the Mums and soft play and toys for the babies. I'm nervous about going, but I think it will be really good for Alexander and me. Surrounded by people who totally understand the mixed emotions of being a rainbow as well as angel parents, Alexander playing with other rainbow babies. No-one asking me if he is my first baby, because without me even needing to say a word they'll know, just because I'm there. Instead of being asked if Alexander is my first I may be asked instead about my first. My Belle. 

A new avenue of support, maybe an easier type of Mother and Baby group. 


Jason Adams said...

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child in any capacity and my condolences to you for your loss. My best friend and his wife lost a child due to stillbirth and I saw what it did to them. My wife and I did all that we could to be there for them and comfort them, but we still weren’t sure if what we were doing was helping. We heard about a book that we got for them as a gift called “There Was Supposed To Be a Baby” by Catherine Keating, you can check her and the book on the website http://therewassupposedtobe.com/. After they read it they said what a wonderful book and comfort it was to them. Wishing you the ability to find peace and I’m so sorry for the loss you have endured.

Caz said...

Thank you for the link to the book Jason and your kind words.

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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