Third not second; three not two

Oh hi there. Since I last posted, I’ve been (surprisingly) successfully knocking out my massive to-do list, as well as just trying to survive. For those interested, Finch seems to be doing well. Also, I flirted with a late-onset gestational diabetes diagnosis for a few days, but, alas, after about eleven finger pricks to take my blood sugars, it’s been determined that I don’t have it. So just another stop on my maternal fetal medicine schooling rotation, I guess.

I texted another friend today to let her know I’m pregnant. I know, I know. This is LATE in the game to be doing such things, but, as I might have mentioned before, this shit is difficult for me.

Anyway, she didn’t immediately respond, so I concluded that she hated me, but then she did respond very nicely, except she was like, “It is so exciting that you’re expecting your second baby!”

Ummmmm… Excuse me? Second baby?

And she isn’t the only person who’s made such a comment lately… And it stings. Because those who’ve made such comments were/are very much aware of Matthew, have seen his picture, and have walked with me, at least on some level, during some of my darkest days.

But it seems, as time marches on, and an arrival of a new baby is cautiously and hopefully anticipated, Matthew’s importance is further diminished and, worse, sometimes the fact that he even existed is denied.

On some level I get it… He’s my child, and, because he died shortly after birth, he was only ever real to me and maybe a couple of other people. But I also don’t get it, because, since the day he died, I’ve talked openly about him, frequently referring to him as my first child, etc. Because although he isn’t alive, he is my son, and I am his mother, and his death did not change these things. I just parent him in a much different way.

I find it curious that when an older person dies the rhetoric would most likely not be the same. If someone’s mother is deceased and people ask about their mother, I don’t think they’d say, “I don’t have a mother,” rather they’d say, “Sadly, my mother passed away.” When a husband loses his wife, if/when he remarries, I can’t imagine that the second wife would be categorically referred to as the first wife as though the actual first wife never existed. In fact, I can recall being corrected in this exact situation, “Oh, you didn’t know… Jim was actually married before. His first wife died. He married Stacy several years later.” So, how is it that, to so many, my first child isn’t real?

And I understand the casual slips of the tongue… I’ve reached the point in my grief where I can accept them for the well-intentioned comments that they are while my already broken heart simultaneously breaks just a little bit more, as opposed to defaulting to wanting to rip everyone a new asshole like I did in the earlier days.

People see Joel, and they refer to him as “the first” or “the oldest” because this is what they see in front of them – the first living child, the oldest living child… But these casual slips of the tongue, when the visual dictates the speech before the mind can think… These are not the types of situations to which I’m referring… The situations that hurt the most are the ones where my first son and, indirectly, my relationship of mother to him are denied by someone who should know better.

Recently, we were having a conversation with a family member of Mark’s, and it went something like this…

Family member – So this one (Finch) is a boy too?

Mark – Yep. Three boys!

Family member – Three boys?

Mark – Yep. Three boys.

Family member – Three boys?

Mark – Yep. Three boys in a row.

Family member – What do you mean? So are you counting yourself?

So, in addition to the casual slips of the tongue, there are those who, even when given a chance to correct themselves, stand firm in their position that Matthew never existed, and that he doesn’t count, and that he isn’t our son. (And, shockingly, they’re firm enough in their beliefs to actually argue with us over this.)

I just wish people could understand that, right now, we have three boys – Matthew, Joel, and Finch. Matthew may be dead, but we miss him every day, and he’s still our son, so we appropriately count him as such.

Or if people can’t understand, maybe they should at least try to take our word for it.

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23 thoughts on “Third not second; three not two

  1. I’m so pleased all’s well. I look forward to your posts & was concerned when you hadn’t posted. When people ask how many children I have I of course answer three…even though I lost my youngest daughter, Danielle, 13 years ago. Someone told me to “lower my expectations” of what people say and do and this gets me through. My love & very best wishes. Janice xx

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment! Didn’t mean to worry anyone – have just been slammed with work mainly. You’re right in keeping expectation low… I need to remember to keep them at zero. I’m so sorry for your loss of Danielle. Like you, even in 13 years I’ll be counting Matthew in my answers. Sending you love and peace this holiday season. xoxo

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  2. I always say I have three children but I still get this often. Recently having experienced pregnancy after loss myself, I have had to answer alot of questions about my pregnacy. I found that strangers LOVED to ask questions. Strangers seem to get super excited about pregnancy bumps and ask questions like they’re owed answers.

    “Oooo you’re expecting a baby,” the lady behind me asked one day in a shopping queue, “Is this your first?”

    “No, it’s my third. We have a little boy and we had a daughter last year but she was very sadly stillborn.”

    “O I’m sorry,” she said, “So this is your second, then?”

    “Nope. My third.”

    “I thought you said you lost that baby?”

    “I think you misheard me. I said my daughter, my middle child, died last year.”

    It would appear that for this lady, using the term “my daughter died” made Evalyn a real person. Saying “I lost my baby” made her more of a figment of my imagination. People can be incredibly strange with their thinking sometimes.

    I am pleased you are doing well.

    xxxx

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  3. WTF! These comments are infuriating. I’m pretty sure I would mostly not talk to that friend again. And that family member … I don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around. Why would they heap shit on top of trauma and tragedy?

    I’m glad that FInch is doing well and that you dodged the GD bullet. You all are in my thoughts often – I’m rooting for you every day.

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  4. I’m sorry that people are so inconsiderate…sadly I have this issue with my mother in law, she won’t even say Harlee’s name, and stares at me blankly when I mention her. I also notice that now that our rainbow is here people refer to me as a “first time mom” and though I have plenty to learn in regards to taking care of a living child I feel like it disregards me as Harlee’s mother, I was a first time mom when she was born.

    So glad to hear baby number 3 is doing well. Sending good vibes your way ❤️

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    1. I’m so sorry that your mother in law won’t even say Harlee’s name!! How incredibly hurtful. And yeah, with Joel the first time mom comments made me upset too… :/ Sending you love and hugs. xoxo

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  5. I can see a little anxiety in your doctor’s visit. It looks like you handled that, well.. Okay, for the lack of another word to use. And I’ve come to the conclusion that women are horrible to each other. Men just get into those conversations for the most part about how many children you have or don’t have. I think I’ll have to do a blog on that. Yes, friends and family can terrible things to you. Sending prayers and hugs your way. Hugs.

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  6. It seems like others mentally file away our babies as a lost pregnancy (whatever that means) versus our child died. Us moms in particular understand that our whole future we had planned with our child is gone. I’m shocked they are so shitty with you especially since Matthew was born alive. How people can deny him is beyond me. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low when dealing with people, even those who should know better.

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  7. I’ve read this post at least 4 times now. I keep returning to the part about the relative and the “three boys” debate (I think I’ve read that section at least 8 times). People really forget? They forget that you were pregnant? Third trimester pregnant? I just don’t understand how this is possible. If you ever want to share how that conversation ended, please do, I’m all ears (If not, no problem).

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    1. Mark was like, “Ummmmm… Matthew, Joel, and this one.. Three boys.” And family member was like, “Ohhhhhhhhh…” And then she gave him this look like, “That is so weird that you’d count Matthew…” I was fuming so I kind of walked away… Otherwise I would have gone off on her, and I don’t think this would have been helpful to anyone… I mean, I could have provided her with an education, but sometimes people can’t be changed, you know?

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  8. This is so true. I was so upset when, already emotional in the last days and weeks of my pregnancy with Flynn, both my neighbour and my brother in law told me that ‘this time next week you’ll be a Mum’ Corrected the BIL but not the neighbour and now I kinda hate her! So glad to hear your third beautiful boy is safely in your arms. Xxx

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