Tuesday, September 22, 2009


After reading Sally's post a few days ago, I have been trying to wrap my head around my own thoughts concerning the "C Word".

"Congratulations". Hmmm. I couldn't put my finger on what seemed very wrong with that word when referring to this new pregnancy...until I read some of Sally's words.

Sal makes so many good points. "What are you congratulating me for?" For getting pregnant again? For trying again? Yes, this new baby is a blessing, a true miracle, but, as Sally said, I don't feel like we should be congratulated until we have a live, healthy, baby in our arms.

"Congratulations" seems to dismiss our heartache of losing Nicholas. Maybe I feel awkward because I have a hard time flashing a smile and saying thank you when so many of the emotions I feel towards this pregnancy co-mingle with the ones I have about saying good-bye to our baby boy. Maybe I don't feel worthy of praise. Maybe I am afraid to accept any type of congratulations until our new baby is here and safe in the arms of her mommy and daddy.

"Congratulations" just seems like the thing to say when you see an obviously pregnant mother. "Congratulations, you must be so excited. Congratulations, you must be so proud". When I was pregnant with the boys, yes, I was all of those things... and very naive on top of it. With Little Miss Sunshine, I am first and foremost hopeful. But I am also a nervous wreck. As much as I try to stay positive, somedays, the anxiety gets the best of me and I am exhausted from worry, from grief, from trying with all my might to keep this little one safe and protected. I couldn't do that with her brother. I couldn't keep him safe in the end... that haunts me every single day.

People mean well. I know they do. From the outsider, looking in, we look like a perfect, happy, little family.... expecting our third child. I can accept "congratulations" from these people. They don't know the pain we hold in our hearts along with the joy of being blessed with this new life. They don't know the horror we went through only a year ago when we had to kiss our little boy good-bye. They don't know the anxiety we go through on a daily basis, praying that this little girl gets to know her brothers here, on this earth. And so, from these every day people, who don't know us, don't know our Nicholas, I humbly accept their "congratulations".

It's the people who do know. The people who have chosen to ignore our loss, because it's easier for them that way. It's the people who say "congratulations" excitedly, all the while knowing that our last pregnancy ended in such a devastating way. It's the people who have never even uttered our son's name, but who feel obliged to happily exclaim "congratulations" on your pregnancy.... as if Nicholas never existed. It's these people who I cannot accept congratulations from. It's these people who hurt me so deeply.

Nicholas deserves to be acknowledged. He is so loved and very much a part of our growing family. Like Sally alluded to, there was only one nurse that I can remember who congratulated us on Nicholas' birth. One lovely woman who told us how gorgeous he was, how precious he was and what a wonderful addition he was/is to our family. I will never, ever forget her. For someone to see through the despair and bleakness of that day that was his death, this woman recognized his life... from the instant she saw him. She congratulated us on creating this perfect little creature.

Looking back on that moment, I can smile and feel proud. Feel proud that our Nicholas is worthy of congratulations.

Thanks, Sal.... for making me think.



Catherine W said...

Nicholas is definitely worthy of congratulations. Such a beautiful, perfect little boy.

You are right. It makes all the difference whose lips the congratulations fall from. xo

Hope's Mama said...

You're most very welcome! And I'm sure you know I'm nodding along with you on this one. You are so right - from strangers it is ok - they don't know any better - but from those who were too gutless to speak her name in the first place, well it doesn't sit well with me. They only other way I'm happy to accept congratulations is from a fellow bereaved mother. Because I know she gets it.
So if I may, if I didn't say it enough in the first place - congratulations Lea! For being so brave to face pregnancy again and bringing hope and joy back in to your lives with a wonderful new family member.

Lindsay said...

I completely understand. I am a nervous wreck right along with you...


Unknown said...

People do tend to use the word for many occasions so I wondered the true meaning so I looked it up in the dictionary: Congratulations, an expression of joy in the success or good fortune of another.

I think that finding out you're having a baby and giving birth to a baby are both occasions worth congratulating, even if your baby died. I think that where it becomes sketchy is when people just say it because 'that's what you say' instead of having real joy behind the word.

And it would be harder to accept congratulations from people who really didn't acknowledge Nicholas. Sorta like 'you didn't recognize him so why do you care now?'

alliecat said...

I agree with all you've written, Lea, and with what Sally wrote too. Now with a few years behind me I think the excited congratulations from the people who knew you when you had Nicholas, well, they congratulate you because they are relieved. The whole death of a baby thing makes people uncomfortable and the thought that you have seemingly 'moved on' and are having another baby is a relief to them. And whilst they are genuinely happy for you, I believe there is an element of an idea that Nicholas' loss no longer effects you so much. I had someone say as much to me and it really opened my eyes to the outsiders viewpoint.

None of that makes it alright of course, it's not okay that they continue to ignore Nicholas, and the fact that we have lost a baby makes the next pregnancy so full of rollercoaster emotions, and in no way have we moved on.

But the heartbreak of ongoing infertility (or lack of conception) after the loss of a baby is hard for outsiders to bear too. So they are really pleased that some happiness is returning to your life.

This is what I have come to learn about some people in my life anyway. They are the same pople who are baffled that I keep mentioning my first daughter. I think I have to take it on face value and quietly shake my head and Thank God for their sake they'll never understand.

Hugs to you xox

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lea. I read Sally's post, too, and now yours and though I'm not pregnant again yet, I can already anticipate the feelings and the comments and the moments.
When Aiden and Sophie were born, one of the nurses said, "congratulations" in THE most horrifying, dismal, sad way ever. It made me angry. Why say it then?!?! Then they rang two bells signifying two babies were born. Halfheartedly. I didn't know whether I wanted it or not. It's so hard to know!

Lea said...

Hope Mama, Sally - I totally agree with the congrats from another bereaved mommy. There is a certain level of understanding that comes along with it.... much appreciated.

Carly said...

Lea, I so agree w/ you. It is so hard to find that place between happiness and grief. I don't like it much when people say congrats w/ lots of smiles and hoopla. Don't they know that it is not that simple. It is SO hard for people to get it. I totally agree w/ your's and Sally's comments about getting a congrats from another bereaved mom, they know the pain and crazy emotions that go along. Plus, they will also be the first to say, I know this will be scary/hard/confusing for you.

You're in my thoughts and prayers. With Love, Carly

Jen said...

I just came across your blog and thoght I would comment.. I am not yet pregnant again either. I hope to be and when I bring it up I always get a horrified look on peoples faces.. my daughter lived for almost 9 months, sick for most of it, but they look at me like I am crazy..and have even said to me that it would "keep my mind off of ella" as that is possible. As I said, I am not expecting yet, but can imagine it being so much emotion and worry ..thoughts and prayers for you!

Bluebird said...

Yes. Just absolutely 100% "yes."

I had a good friend email me with lots of "YAY!!!"s and "Congratulations," and, "I'm so excited for you," and I let it run off my back. (Oh, or the worst: "This is going to be the most precious baby ever!")

Then she said, "B must be so excited!" And I finally responded: "Well, in a way. But he's also scared to death and has a huge responsibility on his shoulders. You know he had to take care of me for a long time, physically, because I was so sick, not to mention the emotion of losing our twins. . ."


Post a Comment