Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Have vs. Had

This is a very hard topic for me to write on. I am torn on what to tell people when they ask if I have any children. Of course I do, I have a beautiful daughter who is watching over me from heaven. I have gotten the question a lot, "Do you have any kids?". To which my answer usually is "Yes, I have a daughter." Then I get the questions "What is her name?" or "How old is she?". To the latter I have to explain that she passed away at birth and that she would be 7 months. Then, people feel strange and they usually stop with the questions at that point after they say "oh I am so sorry", or one girl- who's little 9 month old baby happened to share Avery's name- didn't say anything at all just stopped talking to me altogether.

I don't mind talking about my daughter. I am extremely proud to be her mom and am willing to talk about her at any time. A couple of times however, to avoid the follow up questions I say "had" instead of "have". It doesn't mean that I used to have a daughter but don't anymore. It simply means that I have a beautiful daughter who is no longer living on this earth. Some days it is just so much easier, we get the "I'm so sorry's" out of the way a couple of questions earlier and the person can go on feeling uncomfortable.

About two weeks after Avery was born I had a woman stop me in an aisle at the grocery store. She said to me "You look like you have children, can you tell me where the glue sticks are?". I was so taken aback. I was trying not to burst into tears and run off. I answered quickly "I don't, but they are right there." Walking away I realized what I had said and felt extremely guilty. To this day when I think about it I still feel guilty. I should have just pointed her to the dang glue sticks and left it at that. Why did I add the extra statement? I think that perhaps I was so unprepared to face that type of question or comment, I hadn't really had time yet to think about what I would say to strangers when the question came up. Or maybe it was a test and I failed horribly. Whatever it was I hope that Avery knows that I love her and that she will be my daughter forever and no one can change that.

I know I have some friends out there in a similar situation as mine, and even to those who aren't, what would/do you say?


Anonymous said...

Love the new blog design, BTW :)

Since I do have a living child, I get the "So, are you going to have any more?" or "Is Jamie your only child?" which I think requires the same type of thought process as the questions you are asked. A parent at my son's preschool asked me last week if Jamie was my only one, and I said "Yes." But what I should have said was "Yes, he is my only living child" and left it at that. If they ask further, then I'll go into more detail. Haven't figured out how to answer the "So, are you going to have any more?" As if I didn't just give birth 6 months ago. Ugh. Anyway, I love talking about Faith. My loss totally defines me now, just like being a mother or wife defines me. And I'm okay with that. I'm proud of that. I'm proud because I'm still here- I survived!

Jennifer said...

Love the new look on the blog!

I have a friend whose 16 yr old daughter died suddenly in her sleep about 10 yrs ago. She told me about the first time someone asked her how many children she had after her daughter died. She said she was so shocked that she stammered and didn't quite know what to say. Firsts will always be difficult. First Christmas, first birthday, first Mother's Day. It's only natural for you to struggle. You've never had to do this before and you're just learning. You have a precious baby girl that has blessed and inspired so many of us. Thanks for letting us share your journey with you Candi.

Jan Scholl said...

my brother died at 15 from a lifelong illness. my mom devoided her life of anything of his so not to have to deal with it all. I was the only one who talked about him-and still do-and I leave him space on the sofa when Star Trek is on.

another situation is a birth mother who gives up a child -so how many children does she have? the two who live with her or the three she birthed?

Amy Jo said...

This is a hard situation to be in. I understand where you are coming from. When I was asked the same question, I decided to say"I have a daughter, but she passed away." That seemed to be the easiest for me, but everyone is different. Now, I still sometimes find it hard to say that I have four children, because people only see three of them. But I do include her everytime. My parents find it frustrating because my brothers and I all have boys and people always say "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have a granddaughter." They just smile and say they do!

Clare Dungey said...

I always say, 'I had a little boy in October but sadly he passed away shortly after he was born'. When the person asking then begins to express their sadness and pity, I quickly go on to explain that I have no regrets, he was gorgeous and amazing but very poorly and now he's in heaven with his Lord.

The thing I find really hard is that people who I meet who don't know me talk to me as if I have no idea what going through pregnancy and being a mother is all about. Sometimes I wish I hadn't lost my first child because then people would still realise I am a mother because there would be another visible child.

I don't think there is an easy way to answer those questions, that is why I face them head-on but reassure the person that he was worth every second of the heartache and pain that has followed.

Tonya said...

I just want you know we love you and think about you all the time!

You have gotten some good advice here! Your friend's love you and understand! We love hearing about your feelings for Avery! Your her mom, your proud!!

sakura said...

I had a friend correct me on this once. I had said, "I have three children", she replied. "You had three, but you HAVE two." It hurt and that distinction has been with me ever since.

5 years down the line, I say (and believe) that I have THREE children. We knew ahead that our son would die and we cared for him to the best of our abilities - it was much harder than any parenting I've encountered so far with my living children. And, the benefit of being five years on is that I don't really care how others react anymore. : )

So, from where I stand, you are an amazing mother to Avery. You have a daughter and you always will.

Andrea said...

I stumbled across your blog from a link of another blog. My heart goes out to you. I'm currently going through a similar situation. I'm 25 wks pregnant with a little boy who also has a lethal skeletal dysplasia. OI is one of the conditions our specialist is leaning toward. At first I thought it wouldn't matter to know his exact diagnosis, but now I want definitive answers. We're hoping to do genetic testing the end of next month while he is still with us. I understand it's more difficult after he passes away.

I pray for you and your husband's continued healing.

Anonymous said...

I really feel for you and want you to know I will now never approach someone and ask the question, how many children do you have? I think that we all have good intentions, but we really never think of the other person.
I have had breast cancer and have decided not to share this with eveyone who crosses my path. It is not denial, it is that so many people say such bizzare things to me and I really want to say "was that information really necessary?" I know they mean well, but they walk away and I am left remembering what they said.
Deal with Avery whatever way makes you feel the best. Do what's right for you. Make yourself happy. I know from all your writings you would never not recognize her and never forget her for a moment. She was a gift, but she was really lucky to have such a great MOM.