The very, very simple question, that about gives me a heart attack every time I'm asked it. And the reason it causes such a panic attack is because the follow up question is always, "And how old are they?" It would be so simple to say four. If it wasn't for the second half of the question. A innocent little conversation started with complete strangers at the library, the cashier at Wendy's, or the little old lady on the plane.
I have come to the conclusion that I simply cannot say three. That maybe all anyone will ever see, but I know better, and I simply cannot say three. It might infinitely easier to say three, to spare the poor unwitting soul the knowledge that PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss) still happens in this day and age of wondrous medical advancements. It could be simpler to have the upbeat, impersonal conversation with perfect strangers about the antics of the children in front of them, than the awkward silence of pity and the unknown response before hearing an equally awkward apology followed by nonsensical platitudes or even worse not even acknowledging the sentence that just came out of my mouth. The truth remains, I had a daughter, her name is Abigail, and it just flat out feels wrong to not acknowledge her, as if she didn't exist.
All the same, I have had an almost comical time, blundering through just how to do that. The first time it came up shortly after we moved back to Florida. The chiropractor here, someone who didn't know about us before, after watching three kids who weren't on their best behavior in the exam room. (Let me pause the conversation here to say, I am so, so, so sorry Mother for how the four of us would behave, every single time, while you were at the chiropractor's office all those years ago.) After watching the kids, he jokingly asked, so when are you going to have number four. I'm sure he was expecting, a resounding "we are done, we've got enough heathens thank you." Instead I blurted out, "We already did, she was still born 4 months ago." He skillfully recovered without a beat, that his wife had two about the same spacing as our first two, and she had told him that she was done. He understood how they are a handful, when you have them all day by yourself. Me on the otherhand. I felt guilty for making him feel bad. Because I over analyze everything.
I've practiced it alot in my head since January. And finally in May while we were in Alabama, I tried it out, again on 2 people who knew nothing about our story. Because it's easy to experiment on people that way, and because if I totally botch it, I'm not likely to see you again that often or ever anyway. The first in Hobby Lobby with a lady that I use to work with before Gary and I got married. She's great, I see her every now and then when I am home visiting and go into Hobby Lobby (since there is none around here, I do that fairly often when I'm home.) She asked how many children we have now. I told her 4, and she asked how old, she couldn't believe that I had that many now. Her oldest daughter is my age. I replied, "Britt is 7, Ruth is 5, Rebecca is 3, and the littlest was born in August." We talked a couple more minutes before I left. It was good to acknowledge her, even if it still didn't feel quite like the right way to handle it. A couple days later, at Auntie's funeral a perfect stranger asked, how many we had. I told her 4, this time I had the three kids with me, and so she looked around for another. I just told her, "I only have three with me. The littlest isn't here." I'm still not quite sure if that is the right way to answer.
The thing is that most people have no idea how common PAIL is. And people should know just how common it is. 1 in 160 births are stillbirths. 1 in 5 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, the number is probably higher when you figure in very early losses. They average out that 1 in 4 pregnancies will end tragically. According to the US Breast Cancer statistics, only 1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer. Twice as many women will suffer silently due to the loss of a child, as will have some form of breast cancer. I wonder if PAIL got half the attention that breast cancer does if we might have a lot more answers than we currently do.
And speaking of answers, I'm hoping to get some more Monday. We are finally going to have our RE appointment. I'm hoping after looking over my records, they will run some more test, and finally have something more for us. I'm tired of hearing that my thyroid numbers are in normal range, and that even though I feel terrible, and have lost a child, there is nothing to be done, unless the numbers change. We have had 3 doctors now, that didn't want to touch it at this point. And I got alot of conflicting information from our last OB. She said one thing, and had it on my online records. The records I received in the mail say something different in places. I don't want to stand by and watch another child die, because I'm not being treated and monitored. I'm very anxious and frustrated all at the same time.