Thursday, May 08, 2014

the hairdresser

Oh my goodness. Seriously.

One of the many things we were told by the grievance counselor was to think about how we answer the basic questions from strangers, like "Is this your first child?" (Yes. Sebastian was the first twin anyway),  to "What did you have?" (This is trickier, again depending on who asks, I'll either say I had a boy and a girl or just a boy.) "Did you want a boy?" to even more generally how much we engage and tell strangers about what happened.

Because I want to acknowledge Molly (I feel this is healthier anyway - I need to talk about Molly and what happened), I tend to tell people if they delve into my new motherhood status in conversation.

But mostly, in passing, no one would know the difference. "Yes it's my first. Yes, I always wanted a little boy." And leave it at that.

Ironically, my first outing alone, while getting my hair trimmed, threw me into one of these conversations, and caught me totally off-guard. (I was busy studying the bags under my eyes in the mirror, to be fair.)

It was a new hairdresser - small, young and VERY AMERICAN. Loud, "HELLO HOW ARE YOU SUPER THANKS FOR ASKING!"

Just about tipped me over with her voice - that's how tired I am anyway.

Mid-trim: "So are you enjoying being a Mom?"

Peas: Yes, definitely. Although the sleep deprivation is quite epic.

Hairdresser: Yeah, it must be INSANE. I mean, you know you're totally, like, RIPPED OUT of your normal environment right? RIGHT?

Peas: Right.

Hairdresser: So what did you have?

[Ugh. I'll just tell her 'boy.' I don't feel like getting into this. Although it hurts to just say 'boy', it's better sometimes to just let it be, Peas.]

Peas: I have a little boy.

[Then...]

Hairdresser: ....Like, imagine having TWINS. OH my GOD, my friend's friend just had twins, I mean how do you even COPE?

[Oh sweet Christ. Really? No. Yes. No. I have to.]

Peas:...actually, I had twins.

I'm almost whispering, and the hairdryer almost drowns me out.

Hairdresser: Oh you DID? Well what is the other one?

Peas: She's a girl, but she sadly died just before birth.

[Awkward. Jesus it's so awkward. I don;t actually like making strangers feel this awkward. In fact, I will go out of my way not to make people feel awkward - I don't do awkward very well at all. And now it's just really really really fucking awkward.]

Peas:...yeah but it's fine...you know, it's all good.

[WHAT? No it's not.]

Hairdresser: Oh right, OK. I mean that's really sad, sorry.

Peas: Yeah...anyway. I guess it is easier to cope with one, huh?

Hairdresser: Yeah, I mean, in some ways it must be a blessing.

In some ways it must be a blessing.

Peas:.........

No. I would take a thousand hours of banked sleep deprivation, chrazy chaoticness, intense feeding, everything that twins threw at me if it meant my daughter could still be alive and in my arms. I would take anything if it meant she was alive. 

It's not her fault, she has no idea. But it did make me want to stand up, scream, tell her THINK about what she was saying, and leave.

Strangers, I understand, do not know what to say when they hear that one of my babies died.
Friends and family don't know either. I wouldn't know what to say to me if the tables were turned!

Death is a hard thing to talk about, and people are scared of upsetting that person. I totally get that, one thousand percent. I've told everyone I know that too. "It's OK if you don't know what to say, because I wouldn't know either."

But a blessing? That she never came home with us? Don't say that. Just don't say that.

6 comments:

MeeA said...

Ouch. I guess it's in people's nature to want to lessen the bad things in some way and it often leads to serious foot-in-mouth episodes. I'm sorry it sucked.
xx

SheBee said...

OFFS. Seriously?! Peas, this is one of the WORST things you're going to have to deal with after losing Molly.

It sucks hard and to be honest, the feeling of "um, no, actually, it wasn't a blessing" never goes away, not even after 11 years, in my case anyway. I wrote something about it a while ago: http://www.shebee.co.za/things-you-should-never-say-to-a-parent-who-has-lost-their-child/

Lots of love xoxo

An Aussie in Africa said...

You wrote this with such a tone of wisdom and understanding, it is incredible. On the other hand, sometimes its got to be ok to punch people in the face.

Vannessa said...

Wow, just had a deja vu moment. My daughter died at 11 months of age, she was my second. Also at the hairdresser not too long after she died, the hairdresser asked me how many kids I have. Tricky question. I answered 1 precisely because I did not want to go into it but then I had a kind of panic attack, not sure what it was, where I felt so bad, like I was denying her existence that I had to tell her about my daughter. That was so awful. After that I varied between telling people and not, though it has gotten easier over the years. I identify with not wanting to make people feel bad though, but sometimes it is unavoidable and really not your problem.
I have also had a large number of people saying it was for the best that she died and meant to be etc etc mainly because she was special needs and that used to really get my goat, still does sometimes, but I realised that they say it with good intentions and just had to remind myself of that.
Sorry for the essay, I just identify so much!

Peas on Toast said...

Shebee and Vanessa, you both completely identify with this. So Thank YOU both so much for your comments. It helps not to feel so alone. And know my thoughts are somewhat normal.

My heart aches for both of you as you met and knew your daughters. Which makes your pain way worse than mine. Xxx

Vannessa said...

You know, Peas, I often think about that, what is worse, to lose a child in stillbirth or to lose them later on in life once you got to know them and I have come to the conclusion that there is no worse. They are all bad and horrible to have to deal with. There's stillbirth, to not know your baby at all, or to know them for 11 months and then lose them or like my friend, also living in London, who just lost her daughter, a twin with a non-identical twin sister, at 17 years of age. Each scenario leaves you broken. But you do mend, though you'll never be the same again.
Reading your next post takes me back to similar feelings of guilt and 'what if' scenarios that I had back then. My advice now is to keep on writing about your feelings, it really helps. And I hope you don't mind my 'me too' comments every now and then. I'll be thinking of you next week.