Just like my pregnancy with Luke, early on in this pregnancy it has become pretty obvious that I am pregnant. And if it is not obvious to someone and the person gives me a puzzling look were I can tell that they are thinking I look pregnant but are too afraid to ask, I just blurt it out. Immediately following that I get much praise, smiles, and even in some cases - a big hug.
I love what I do. It was not the career choice I had when I first started out on my own but fortunately the path that I have ended up on professionally has been a great fit for me. I am a people person and a huge aspect of my job is dealing with the community - I work at a community credit union - perfect.
Many members of the credit union are very aware of what happened with Luke and by almost all accounts everyone who would ask me about what happened and how I was doing were always kind, sympathetic, and most importantly they were respectful of my need to talk, or in some cases not talk about what had happened.
I remember one elderly lady who was always kind to me even before I lost Luke, even before I got pregnant. Although she is friendly she has a quiet, private demeanor about her. She is very soft spoken but cheerful and kind in her smile. A few weeks after I returned from delivering Luke she came by my office to ask how I was doing. I gave the usual response but unlike most conversations I would have with inquiring members, the conversation was very short. She was very sympathetic and sweet in her condolences but it was obvious that she did not want the conversation to go on much more. I assumed it was to be respectful but then I also thought she was unsure of what to say. Either way the conversation ended and she went on her way.
This lady is a frequent visitor of the credit union. Her and her husband of almost sixty years (they informed me of that the last time they came in) come into the branch about once every ten days or so. They are well aware that I am expecting again and over the past year since losing Luke I have enjoyed having small talk with them every time they come in.
Last week while helping them with a transaction, the woman asked me if I had started working on the baby's room yet. I had told her no and that we will probably wait awhile until we start making major decisions - ie. registering, planning the baby room, etc. I told her that we were just not ready yet.
After I said that she got quiet. She then proceeded to tell me that she knew how hard starting over can be. She has always been a woman of a few words at least in conversation with me (her husband usually does all the talking), so making a heartfelt comment like that kind of surprised me.
There was silence again and I went back to completing her transactions. When I was done I looked up again to tell her something and I was paralyzed to see this woman - a woman who always has a strong exterior, an almost secret like personality was crying in front of me. It was just a tear rolling down her face but once our eyes connected she proceeded to tell me her story. A story I couldn't even imagine as she was telling it to me.
She had lost four, full term babies. She told me that one by one they would die a few weeks before she was due to deliver. When she was telling me this I felt like I couldn't breath. It was just all too much to take in. She later found out that she was RH negative and all the babies had been RH positive which caused her body to attack and kill the fetus. She told me how there were two tombstones - babies one and three were buried together, babies two and four were buried together. The worst part was when she told me she never got to hold or even see the babies - they just got taken away to the unknown, a mother and child never getting a chance to say goodbye. She told me that was the way it was back then.
I don't know how I knew but I could just tell in the way she spoke to me that I was one out of a very small group of people who she had shared this secret with. Even in talking to me I could tell she was uneasy but at the same time I could fell her desperation to talk to another soul who may be able to understand the pain she had been harboring for sixty years. My mind could not grasp the reality of the pain she must have endured for decades.
I have been so fortunate to have the network of friend and family who have allowed me to cry to them about my ongoing pain and struggles. I could not for a moment imagine what it would have been like if I had to hide my feelings or to feel ashamed for what has happened to me and my son. How desperately this woman must have wanted to scream out in pain the agony she must have felt for not one but FOUR babies over the years. I was so honored that she shared her story with me but I too think she was grateful to have the opportunity to tell her story - to have an opportunity to honor the babies she so desperately aches for in silence.
Losing a child is the worst thing in the world. I hope and pray that the people I love never have to experience the pain that is associated with a lose. I am grateful given my circumstance however that what I have gone through did not happen to me sixty years ago. I am so grateful that I am able to have a meltdown in the grocery store isle and not be considered insane. I am grateful that I am able to rejoice in the love that I have for my son and talk freely about him whenever and wherever I want. And most importantly I am so grateful that I was able to hold him for the most amazing hour of my life on the day he was born, surrounded by all the people that love him as he passed on from this life that he knew with us to the comforts of heaven. That's how they may have done it "back then," but thank God my Luke was not born back then.
I will never forget her story, and I will never forget her babies either. Rest in peace little angels.