Sheltered (adjective): Protected from difficulties or unpleasant realities
I’ve been vocal about baby loss… From the privacy of my own home.
I’ve written about how it all feels… From the security of my desk and computer monitor.
I’ve touched people with what’s happened… From the comfort of my mobile phone apps.
When I come to think of it, I’ve been quite sheltered. I’ve been sat behind closed doors, behind screens and technology. I’ve not had to think on my feet. So what happens next, when I have to tell someone what’s happened, for the first time, out loud?
I have two necklaces with Summer’s name on them. I want people to notice them, but what if someone actually does? At the moment, it is summertime, so perhaps people will think nothing of it, but will that change when I wear them in winter, will people joke about it? What will I say?
I’m still angry, so I’m ready to counter the impertinent folk. I’m ready for someone to rudely enquire about my fertility and about the fact I don’t have any children (that they can see). I hope to stun them into silence. Reclaim that upper ground.
“Oh, do you not want children?”
“Actually, I’ve had three miscarriages”.
Cue their awkward silence.
I note that it’s definitely not gaining the high ground. The distinction is subtle. Being childless can make me feel so worthless, so being able to make someone else feel awkward, means I can pick myself up, dust myself off to upper ground. I know it’s not the high ground though, that other moral place where I shouldn’t need to bring other people down to my low level.
But what do I say to the nice people? Those who are just making a general enquiry? The stranger or colleague or peripheral family member who inadvertently tips over the can of worms?
I know what I hope to say if they see the necklace: This is my daughter’s name, she was very premature and died shortly after birth.
I know what I hope to say if someone kindly asks about children: No, I have no living children.
In reality though, I’m in hiding. The last time I went to the dentist, I was pregnant (My Baby and Summer both gave me horribly sensitive, bleeding gums). I handed the receptionist my pregnancy medical card and she noted the dates on their system – I’d be entitled to free dental care for months and months after Summer’s due date. I’m now due back at the dentist, and I’m not going. I don’t want to have the conversation: “Sorry, I do actually need to pay for this, my baby died”. Or perhaps I don’t have to pay, I did give birth to a baby after all. I have no idea, no one explains this stuff and it’s just such a complicated situation. I’ll just avoid the dentist, gums are better now anyway.
I’ll let you know what happens when I am faced with the real-world-baby-loss-conversation-challenge in reality. I hope that I’m brave and make space for my children. I know it will be easier not to – for them, for me – but it is important to talk about these things, out loud, so I must try.