Relaxing Doesn't Make Babies

A Dark Cloud

April 16, 2008 — 2:34 am

My butt and thighs hurt! I feel like I did when I was pregnant, having to hoist myself up off of chairs…. only this time it’s simply because my legs squeal at me like tiny mice stuck in a frying pan. But I don’t complain – I’m actually quite pleased. I really must have done something with that exercise. And at the time I really didn’t feel like I was doing much.


Today I had to tell someone that my baby died.

It was my first official day back at work today. I had stopped in previously to work on some paperwork and for meetings, but today I went in for-real to actually do my normal job. First thing on my list was making a run to Costco to pick up an order. While I was off work no one picked up orders; someone else just stopped at Costco to buy things in the evening. Which means no one has had contact with the people who help me in the mornings with the orders. They didn’t know.

I knew from the start that it was something I was going to have to face, and to be honest that’s part of the reason I pushed it off this long. I felt like today I could handle it. So I rung the bell and they opened the door. He looked me up and down, smiled big and said, “So… boy or girl?!” Then the woman who helps me out walked over and said cheerfully, “What are you doing back?!”

I paused for a moment, then stumbled a little through my words. “Well… actually… we lost the baby.” I crumpled for a minute, hiccuping with a sob.

(I know some – many – women don’t like using the phrase, “We lost the baby.” I thought about it a lot today and concluded that sometimes it just works best for me… and for whatever reason it doesn’t bother me. I don’t like saying, “The baby died” – at least, not for the initial news-breaking. It sounds too flat to my ears. I go back and forth. Maybe it’s just my own hang-up.)

Faces fell in shock and horror. The woman immediately hugged me tight and said, “Oh Natalie… I’m so sorry!!” She looked so upset. (The men, they never seem to know what to say, beyond, “I’m sorry.” He started talking about other things. Not to brush off what had happened, I know – I saw the look of sadness and sympathy in his eyes. He understood… he just didn’t know what else to say. And frankly I didn’t mind; sometimes talking about other things is easier than sitting in the grief.)

I hate breaking the news.

It occurred to me that it’s not just having to go through the pain of explaining again that hurts so much. What hurts almost more is walking in to the big, expectant smiles and excitement. For a moment you get to see what should have been… the image flashes through your mind of how you were supposed to be walking in the door beaming with pride, telling them all about your baby, bursting with joy and happiness. Instead you stand empty and small, wincing in response to the sharp reminder, grief bubbling up when people least expect it.

14 responses to “A Dark Cloud”

  1. KC says:

    That last paragraph you wrote…phenomenal. You got a glimpse of what would/should have been. I have been there. I have gotten that glimpse. I wanted it too. Even though I knew that once I blinked and it was gone the pain would return, I wanted that moment where I was talking about my twin boys. Instead, I have to talk about my son. Not my twins.
    It sucks but at least you have the perspective you do. You will get to a place where both the grief over Devin and the joy and pride you feel for Devin will be such an integral part of who you are that you will not remember life before.

  2. luna says:

    I’m so sorry, natalie. that glimpse into what “should have” been is so hard to see and feel when you’re on the other end… thinking of you. ~luna

  3. CLC says:

    Oh, that is so hard having to tell people. I am sorry you are encountering this. I feel like I am disappointing people. And sometimes it makes me feel worse that I have to worry about others reactions and try to make them feel ok.
    Thinking of you. Good luck today with work.

  4. tash says:

    The telling, when they don’t know, is just heartbreaking. And you have to get through it with the vocabulary that makes you comfortable, no need to justify it. I’m pleased, though, to see that they were able to hear it and hug you. I hope any future uncomfortable moments you have are met with such sympathy. Good luck again at work.

  5. loribeth61 says:

    It got so that I would go out of my way to avoid people when I knew one of “those” encounters was about to occur, because I’d already had two or three of them that day & just couldn’t handle any more. I too hope you continue to receive sympathy & comfort from anyone you have to tell. (((hugs)))

  6. G says:

    You don’t need to justify how you chose to say it, whatever works for you is what is right. I used that phrase too.

    I hope you continue to have such caring reactions. Be easy with yourself at work, hopefully it’s flexible enough that you can come and go when you need to these first few days.

  7. Mrs.Spit says:

    “You stand empty and small”

    I could see myself in the elevator, on the front porch, at Home Depot, at the grocery store, in a conference room.

    that’s a whole lot of truth packed into a few smallish words.

    thanks for sharing.

  8. Becky says:

    Oh sweetie.


  9. Cibele says:

    I am so sorry. Hugs

  10. Joy says:

    I’m so glad they responded respectfully and correctly. Most people will, so don’t be afraid to let people into your grief and share in the loss. There were probably many times they thought of you and now they won’t forget you. People all over the world are praying for you and your husband, for your little baby boy. People who don’t know you, people who walked right into the middle of your blog, people who CARE! *HUGS*

  11. Freyja says:

    It occurred to me that it’s not just having to go through the pain of explaining again that hurts so much. What hurts almost more is walking in to the big, expectant smiles and excitement. For a moment you get to see what should have been… ”

    I never really even thought about your situation from this perspective. That must be very hard!

  12. Julia says:

    It’s a tough tough thing to do.
    I had to wince for months because I wasn’t sure whether the next person I would see knew or not.
    Good luck settling in to work again. If you need breaks, take them. I didn’t until it got pretty bad, and that was a big mistake.

  13. Rachel says:

    That sounds so difficult, but it sounds like you handled yourself with grace and poise (to steal a phrase).


    That was a very brave thing you did.

  14. Sue says:

    I was lucky enough to have the chair of my department send something out to tell people, but there were a few people here and there who did not know. It’s so horrible. I’m sorry you have to face this.