One of these days I want to write a short article about “what not to say to a mother who has had a fetal or neonatal loss”. My list is getting longer and longer. But until then, I just have to vent a little bit here.
New Years Eve was, as anticipated, an emotional night for me. Out of a sense of obligation, DH and I went to a friend’s dance party NYE celebration. I should have stuck to my guns and said “no”, but I caved to the pressure to fulfill our commitment to go.
This year the holidays really were especially difficult, as I kept thinking about how I had envisioned the holidays would be when I was pregnant with the twins. NYE was no different – it was sad as I expected. After all, we should have been bringing the babies home from the NICU about now.
Anyway, back to the story. One of the guests is a mom of triplets, the other one had twins (from their first IVF cycle-how lucky is that?). The twin’s mom engaged me in conversation about our future plans. Now, here’s where it got difficult. First, in an attempt to connect and sympathize with my loss, she told me about her own loss (an elective abortion she had after the twins because she and her husband were having marital problems). While I feel sad for her loss, I wanted to make the point that an early first trimester D&C that was an elective termination isn’t quite the same as being on complete bedrest for 10 weeks and then watching your babies be born, struggle in the NICU and then die and know there is nothing you could have done to save them. But, I didn’t make that point, because I know she just didn’t know what to say and was trying to connect somehow. Then, she told me that we should be using a surrogate rather than doing adoption. So, I patiently explained how traumatized I was by the pregnancy and birth and that I wasn’t yet ready to endure IVF cycles to try to get a surrogate pregnant and then spend the entire pregnancy waiting for the other shoe to drop. Oh, and by the way, I was adopted too – so really, I’m okay with the idea of adoption.
She also told me that she has frozen embryos on ice and doesn’t know what to do with them – but since she can’t carry any more children, she was thinking of giving them to her infertile sister and asking her sister to carry them – and if it was a boy, to give it back to them at birth, but if it was a girl the sister could keep it. What?!?
Imagine the poor infertile sister being presented with that option. How difficult it must be to know that your sister has frozen embryos and go into it not knowing whether you’d be pregnant for yourself or your sister. I would like to think (maybe hope) that a psychologist would provide some healthy insight to why that may not be a good option for all involved.
Anyway, when these things happen, I often wonder how many times I have said the wrong thing in an attempt to reach out. I think you just can’t know what not to say until you’ve been there. So, when it happens, I just try to remain calm and realize that they are at least trying to connect – rather than pretending that nothing has happened. And for that, I am grateful.