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My second child and our first daughter, Camille, died and was born on June, 30 2011 when I was full term at 38 weeks pregnant. I gave birth to my rainbow baby, a second daughter, on August 31, 2012. This is me trying to figure out how to be a mother to my living son and daughter and function in society after our tragic loss.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Theoretical Child

It was my aide's first day back at work from maternity leave. I didn't talk to her much. I could hear all the patients asking about her daughter and how fun it must be to have one after having her two boys. She was all smiles and happiness. Because I never knew she was pregnant (she hid it from me) and I only found out that not only was she pregnant but had given birth to a daughter when I returned to work, it feels as though she never was pregnant. Although this is irrational, I feel like she stole my life. I shared my pregnancy with the clinic and all my coworkers. They watched Camille and my belly grow. This aide didn't tell anyone she was pregnant until 4 weeks before she was due. She told people she "didn't know she was pregnant"...???... I am sorry but I just don't believe that. How is it that someone who "wasn't even pregnant" could have a daughter, and mine is dead? FUCK!

This is really what hurts though:

My best friend came to visit me this weekend. It was the first time she has visited since Camille died. She got to hold her, she was there through all the crazy of that day, the next day and that weekend. She really has been very supportive. We stayed up talking all night on Saturday, I told her how I have lost so many friends. I told her that people never call, everyone has moved on.

I received a phone call tonight from a friend I will call her "B", a mutual friend of my BFF. We have all been friends FOREVER. "B" has a daughter who is 2 months older than Kai. I haven't heard from her in months. We talked about our children and the changes coming up in her life. She then tells me she received a email from my BFF addressed to all of our mutual close friends telling them they should contact me because I am feeling neglected, or forgotten or something....I don't know what her exact words were. So I was very honest with "B" and said that I know everyone else has moved on but it really feels like yesterday to me that Camille died. That I cry all the time and feel very lonely. I told her that although I know it is difficult to be my friend right now, when it is difficult is usually when people need friends the most. She apologized for not being in better contact. I told her that except for her husband, none of our friends husbands has ever said anything to either of us about Camille...NOTHING. They just pretended like nothing ever happened. "B" proceeds to say "I think everyone knows you didn't have a miscarriage, but they have a hard time about whether she was a theoretical child or an actual child. Speaking to you, I can tell that you feel she was an actual child"

Just typing those words makes me want to throw up. What the fuck is a theoretical child? Camille was real! she was perfect and looked just like my son. I kissed her lips and face and I grew her. I never, ever thought I would have to defend her existence. How does one give birth, hold, kiss, say goodbye to a theoretical child. My heart feels like it broke into a million more pieces I never thought was possible.

I think I realized in that conversation just how much people DON'T UNDERSTAND. But...the hard part for me is that women, WOMEN who have given birth to healthy alive babies would not understand. She said that this is just something outside the realm of experience for people which is beyond the truth. It certainly was outside my experience. I just feel sick right now.

Our conversation was actually a good one, I know she meant to be kind and she called because she felt bad. I wish she had called without the prompt but I am grateful non the less...I guess I feel like if I can talk about Camille and make people understand just how broken I am, maybe there will be a shift, some more compassion. I also realize that this is unlikely. Baby death is taboo, it is unthinkable, it is uncomfortable and so because of this the ACTUAL CHILD becomes Theoretical. How much easier it is for people to dismiss a concept, not a concrete fact. I think what I want to do is send them a picture of her. She does exist. I love her and she is real!

35 comments:

  1. I want to scream, but in three years I have sadly got used to conversations like this. Try as we might, people just won't get it. We can shove it in their faces, ram it down their throats, but unless they pushed out the dead baby then organised their funeral, they just won't get it. That's why we have to stick close to the friends who come really, really close to getting it and support us no matter what.
    Camille was very real. Very beautiful. And she mattered.
    I miss her with you.
    xo

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  2. Uh...wow. All I can say is that makes me want to punch that woman in the face. When I think I've heard it all...

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  3. Oh my... that made me want to throw up... a THEORETICAL CHILD... Does she not understand that your pregnancy was exactly the same as any other, a child was formed, created, grown from scratch. An actual, tangible, 3-D, baby was born! Camille!

    I honestly don't know what people actually think... Do they think that when a woman is told the worst, the baby just goes 'poof' and disappears? Do they think that the pregnancy somehow wasn't real?

    I'm just so fed up with this attitude.

    Strangely though, I have noticed that it is my friends who do not yet have children who have been the most supportive. The ones who have living children, who have been through birth themselves, seem to be less supportive. I have no idea how or why that would be...

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  4. Oh that makes me sick. Literally sick. That has been my hope though, that talking about Hayes and sharing my grief will somehow educate people. I do understand that they can't comprehend. But a theoretical child? No.

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  5. There is no such thing as a theoretical child. Our babies are as real as theirs, the only difference is that ours didn't live. I wish more people got that.

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  6. My New Normal, you've nailed it. Same babies, same pregnancies, different outcomes. I don't even know what a theoretical child would be . . . I'm hoping your friend just made a huge semantic error and realizes it was a dingdong thing to say. And also, I hope she realizes Camille was, is a real baby, not just that YOU FEEL she's real. Oy.

    Strangely, I was in such a state of shock when the nurses told me Calla was dead, I didn't quite understand that I'd have to deliver her. I was, like, well now what? C told me I'd have to go through labor and I still didn't quite get it.

    I'm glad your BFF has been so supportive. Good for her for getting the rest of your friends on board--they need a good tellin! I wish I could give you a hug, Renel.
    xo

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  7. I just have to tell you how mad I am that someone said this to you. That is terrible. I really am just shocked that someone would call Camille, Drew, or any other baby a "theoretical" baby. You didn't make her up.

    Really, if you were going to make up a baby, wouldn't you make one up that had a happy "ending"?

    Once when I told someone that Drew had died, they said to me "you're kidding." Yes, that's right, I have a sick sense of humor and I like to kid about my child being dead.

    I'm so sorry you had to hear yet another stupid comment. I really hope that after you spoke, that she can tell "everyone" that Camille was and IS "an actual child" so that people will start to come around and be more supportive for you.

    Hugs to you!

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  8. This makes me want to throw up.. literally. I was thinking the same thing about the picture.. perhaps if that were thrown in the faces of people who are so insensitive (and I'm sorry but I feel they are also CLUELESS) they MIGHT actually realize that a child who dies before, during or after birth is in fact A CHILD. A life lost and hearts broken..

    So sorry you had to hear this Renel.. sending love and light.. and always understanding.

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  9. Wow. I see why she said that, it's what people think. But it just breaks my heart, I can't think of anything more hurtful. I'm so sorry she told it to you.

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  10. Yes. I think this is how a lot of people process stillbirth because it's easier and less painful for THEM to consider. I'm so sorry that people aren't giving the kind of support you need and deserve. I dealt with some of this same frustration. Some fiends were wonderful, some were not. It sucks. I had no idea how much I could live a baby until I had Eliza. I don't know how any mother can dismiss or diminish this kind of loss.

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  11. Really? REALLY? Did they really admit that you had a "theoretical" child? I'm at a loss for words.

    We are definitely not in denial here in babyloss land. Unbelievable. I'm so sorry that was the response. It makes me physically ill to think.

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  12. I am SO sorry you heard something so STUPID. Like you said, it's hard to believe this came from a woman. I sometimes get so mad at people for not understanding, but especially people who SHOULD.

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  13. What the heck is a theoretical baby? And how does one go from having a living baby in utero to a theoretical baby? I don't get it. Like, at all.

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  14. I agree that it is easier for other people to deal with when they think of our babies as a sort of nebulous loss and not real babies who happened to have died.

    Ahhh, you do not "feel" that Camille is real, you know she is. And they do too, they just don't want to think of the possibility that babies sometimes die. Perhaps it is like the woman who was in denial that she was pregnant and "didn't know." I think sharing photos helped other people realize that Bear was very real little boy. It made people sad, but also made Bear more tangible and less scary.

    I'm also sorry about your coworker. I also think about why some people, who don't appreciate their children, get to keep them and mine died. Then I feel guilty. I try to remind myself that I have a perfect little boy, he just isn't here...

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  15. Theoretical baby? Really? You're child existed as did mine, and so many other women who have unfortunately lost babies. Although I don't wish this on ANYONE, unless they've been through this - they have no idea...they don't know what it's like to cry until you're exhausted, feel alone and grieve the death of someone that grew inside of you.

    It's hard for people to understand, but as long as you hold Camille in your heart and speak her name - that's all that matters. You are her mother. She was here and still exists in spirit.

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  16. Wow. Just, wow. I'm speechless. What a heartless thing to say. I'm so sorry. There are many of us, with and without children, who know that Camille was real, her life was real, your loss was real, and the pain is real.

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  17. I know where you're coming from with your friends. I'm trying to carry on with life and move forward in my grief so people see the composed me presented to them. But I have to remind them 'I'm not fixed, I'm broken, I hurt, I'll always hurt, please remember that I had a baby and that she died and that this is not easy for me.' I know it's not easy for friends to face us in our immense grief, but it's less easy for us to be bereaved mothers/parents. Our babies are REAL not theoretical! This has happened to us and our friends should not avoid it to make it easier for them.

    I've found the emails and phone calls are now becoming fewer as people forget my horror 4 months on - and it's now that things are just getting harder for me again and it would be nice for that un-prompted phone call, text or email saying they're thinking of me. Thank goodness for the BLM Blog world :)

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  18. I feel the same way. I am pretty sure I am breaking up with my 'friends' . Nobody wants to talk to me about my baby.

    When I did talk to my own friend just before Christmas she said 'Oh sorry we haven't talked Christmas is hectic with children. You would know this if you had one of your own' WTF We lost our daughter at 35 weeks in October.

    You are not alone. We all feel this way. Hope you will stop by my blog and have a read - I love reading yours!

    http://dearbabyboba.tumblr.com/

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    Replies
    1. Aeroangie~ thank you for coming by and reading... I tried to go by your blog but the internet says it is not a valid webpage....Sending my love to you and wishing you had your sweet daughter.

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  19. Oh, honey. I am so sorry. Theoretical child?!? What is that? More than a miscarriage, but less than an actual child? That doesn't even make real sense. As you know, many of my friendships fizzled away, more had actual "fuck-off" emails. My blog being the source for cutting me out of their life, because you know, even though they can't be a support, they don't want me to seek out any additional support either. All I can say is that for me this part hasn't gotten easier. But there is a kind of gratitude in having had a place to come--my blog, this community. And having made friends with other babylost mamas that transcended our losses. Wish I could give you a gigantic hug and have some tea with you.

    xo

    And aeroangie, holy shit that is the most thoughtless, horrible thing I think I have heard someone say.

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  20. It always baffles me that people who have children dont understand our loss. I always want to say well how would you feel it was your child? If it happened to you would it be theoretical then?!GRRR people. xo

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  21. How did she not know she was pregnant?!?!?!? I feel like she stole your life too....I hate that they were talking to her about everything in front of you or around you! Some people just are stupid, stupid, stupid! I;m sorry about your friends! Camille is real and will always be real! She was yours to hold while in your belly, to give birth to and to hold and kiss for a short time! no one can take that away! She will always be your first daughter and always your 2nd child!! Remembering Camille today!

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  22. I told my husband about the whole Theoretical child statement. He made a comment to me that stung a little but I have to admit I guess he has a good point. "Unless it has happened to you, you just don't understand". Our children are real, they lived. 9 months they grew. I wonder all the time if people realize that at 38 weeks, babies are completely ready to live outside the womb. One day sooner and our babies would be in our arms right now. They were alive, they existed, they will forever be our babies who we miss and love.

    I am so sorry at the insenstivity of others. It is like rubbing salt in an open wound. You don't deserve that.

    Thinking of you and sending as much peace as possible. Hoping that this month brings you something to hope for.

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  23. UGGGH the things people say are unreal!! They dont ever stop to think about how it will effect you!! Im sorry your in this club. I found your blog off of another one I read. We lost our son at 5 months old from a neuromuscular condition. I totally get the "friend" thing.. you find out who your true friends are when you go through something like this. Sad to say there arent many. Hugs mama

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  24. Whoa. You're right, people don't understand. They just don't and it is a truth that as time goes on you learn over and over again. It was good that she called and it shows that she cares but, no, she doesn't understand. Lucky her, right?

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  25. Wow. What you described is one of my biggest fears. I have to say I feel like you handled it quite well. I would have gone completely berserk.

    I am so sorry that anyone would have the nerve to think that, let alone say it to your face. Camille is a VERY REAL child, very loved, and very missed. I am so sorry you are not getting all the support you need.

    But yeah, people just do. not. get. it.

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  26. You don't know me but I stumbled upon your blog and have read your heart felt sorrow and pain. No mother should ever have to experience the depth of your pain. Your little girl is very much a real baby & I wish you could have brought her home. I understand all to well the pain of caring a baby for 9 months & not being able to bring them home from the hospital, there are no words to accurately describe how deep it hurts. You literally feel physical pain. I know you will be able to hold your little girl in your arms one day, hang on to that. Your friends don't know how to handle the situation and in turn make things worse by not being supportive. They don't want to bring her up because they don't want to cause you anymore pain but you feel like they don't care, I'm sure they do. Allow your self the time to heal so you can offer your next child a peaceful dwelling until birth as you did for your daughter. Remember u have a beautiful son who needs you as well. Hold tight to your husband & family and one day you will find joy again in life.

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  27. I never, ever thought I would have to defend her existence. Oh that sentence is so painful but so true. I remember being totally bewildered that people didn't understand that Georgina was a real person, a real baby. Not just theoretically. Actually. And you've really nailed it, it is utterly bizarre when you encounter this attitude from other mothers. What do they imagine? That their children were theoretical concepts until they took a breath? That babies who die have no corporeal existence and just vanish like a puff of smoke? Argh!
    And it seems to hurt more when it comes with good intentions and kindness. Because I'm left thinking if YOU, who are trying to be nice and understanding, are getting this so wrong? I dread to think what other people think.
    I can only echo was so many other people have already said. Camille is real, she does exist, she is loved.

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  28. Wow I can't believe that. WTH is a theoretical child? I have no idea how people come up the stupid things they say but this is just horrible. Makes me sick. What a crappy friend.

    I'm so very sorry. Your Camille IS most definitely a real child and she will always exist and always be loved.

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  29. theoretical child? a child who grew, practiced breathing, had fingernails and hair and a nose that looked like... that is not a theory, but a reality. she really was here and she really died, that is the story. So Sorry about this, I just read it and just so sorry...

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  30. Holy shit. It's shocking that she actually said that; that those words actually came out of her mouth. It's nice that your BFF took the initiative to get you some support, but the fact that your friend mentioned that as well makes me wonder if she just has diarrhea of the mouth, because it would have been much more supportive if it appeared as though she were just calling you because she cared.

    I'm still amazed at how many of my friends have disappeared. It's like an atomic bomb dropped on my life, and some relationships turned to dust. . . kind of like theoretical friendships.

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  31. Bwahaha theoretical friendships. You had me cracking up! Yep to the atomic bomb.

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  32. Camille was real! She's absolutely adorable! I'm new to the baby loss world - my son was stillborn at term a few months ago - but already I see how comfortable it is to be surrounded by a community of people who "get it." Sadly, I sometimes forget that the other factions of my life do not understand and then I get hurt when I share too much or answer honestly.

    I just started blogging myself, here: Griefland. Thank you for maintaining this site. It is an inspiration.

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  33. I uttered the words "Oh NO!" out loud when I read what your friend said. I've never felt that dead babies get the "street cred" they deserve. Of course our children are real. Ugh!!

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  34. Having to defend the fact that your baby was 'real' is about the cruellest thing you have to do after they die. I can't believe your friend said that to you, but in doing so, she's kind of explained why people can't react or relate to us properly. If you can't imagine the baby as a real person, how can you imagine the loss of that baby?

    I've said many times how much I wish every single person I knew had to come and hold Max, to see him and touch him, and then they couldn't so glibly talk of him as some kind of invisible pregnancy 'loss'. And you're right, even mothers with living babies can't seem to understand how real he was, as if he was a separate kind of species to their living child. I don't wish anyone to have to go through what we are going through, but sometimes I just wish they had to live this for one day, so they could know what it is like.

    Camille was real. She was so real. She was here with you. She should still be here with you. It's unfathomable.

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