While living abroad, I had a son who died during delivery, leading to the eventual disintegration of my relationship and my decision to move back to the U.S. Three years and countless hours of therapy later, I am single and enjoying a fabulous career. But now everyone I know is having babies. How do I handle the constant comments made by pregnant people I know about what they presume is my childless life? Things like, “Oh, you’ll understand when you get pregnant,” or “Wait till you’re 36 weeks pregnant! You won’t want to walk uptown either!” I hear this nearly every day from co-workers.
I find it unnerving and annoying—hasn’t anyone taught them not to make assumptions about other people? I feel tempted to teach them a lesson in tact, reveal my secret, and shut them up once and for all. But many of these women are on their first pregnancies, and I don’t want to frighten them (my own son’s death was a freak event, both unpreventable and unpredictable). And who wants to hear about someone else’s dead baby when they’re about to have a living one? I’ve taken to nodding and smiling, but it’s only becoming more common and it’s fraying my nerves. I avoid pregnant women now, just so I won’t have to pretend. I have accidentally slipped up a few times, too, commiserating with pregnancy-related complaints only to have them look at me quizzically. When my son died, I knew I was in for a lifetime of grief—but this is an unexpected dilemma!
—How to Talk About Babies When Yours Is Dead