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.