One Day…

March 5, 2015

The receptionist peers over her desk at us, Bella heading into her hourly care class so I can get some work done at home.

“Does she have an older brother or sister?”

I shake my head.

“Just her?”

“Yes,” I say tightly, wanting to conversation to stop here. It won’t. I just know it. I brace myself for whatever bit of ignorance is coming next.

“Poor little dear. One day you’ll be a big sister!” she says casually, not even looking at us.

I freeze. Bella looks up at me with confused eyes. The receptionist reaches for the phone and I can’t think of what to say. I have to say something. I can’t just pretend. I’m angry and hurt and it just bursts out:

“She was. It didn’t work out.”

The woman giggles nervously and nods, like I cracked a super funny joke she doesn’t quite understand, and turns away.

Instantly I want to take it all back, that wasn’t the well planned, loving bit I’d wanted to say. It didn’t work out? My children weren’t a van that broke down on the side of the road. And yet – in that instant between the comment and a phone call, I can’t think of how else to tell her.

All I can think of is how much I wish people would just mind their own business. Who cares if Bella is my only? Why make that comment to her?

We walk down the hall and I’m shaking from my own answer and her ignorance. Trying to remind myself, “She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know.” I don’t even care though. Don’t tell my daughter that one day she’ll be a big sister when you have no idea why she isn’t already. Now I’ll spend all day wondering if I should bring it up again, let it go, and how to talk to Bella later about it all. This is so, so hard. Even with a baby on the way – it’s just a constant reminder of no guarantees.

Bella puts her hand in mine. “I hope this baby lives,” she says softly. I squeeze it hard and look down at her, my heart aching from wanting her to finally have a sibling to hold and love on. Of all I hate about this, seeing her hurting is the very worst part.

“Oh sweetheart, me too.”

24 Comments

  • Staci

    March 30, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    When I read this I could literally feel your pain. I am so sorry! Our daughter was stillborn at 30 weeks about 3 years ago. My son was almost 2 at the time. Now he is almost 5 and people ask him all the time if he has a brother or sister. He always says “yes I have a sister”. It makes me so proud of him but has caused many situations like the one you describe. Thank you for sharing your heart and being so open with your struggles.

  • Nelly Kane-Macias

    March 23, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I just found your blog tonight. Thank you for sharing. I have a living four year old daughter followed by four losses and I could relate to your post. Our daughter wants a living baby on earth as do we. It's the hardest… (Hugs) to you and prayers for your new baby to live on earth.

  • Ashley Amanda Henderson

    March 12, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I needed to read this! My daughter wants so desperately to be a big sister. She is 4 and I don't know if she actually caught that we lost her younger sibling, although she acts like she knew I was pregnant. I wish people would mind their own business. "It's my family, not yours" is all I want to say when people start asking questions like that! Prayers for you!

  • TB

    March 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Some people just do not get it. Who is she to judge how many children you have? To say to Bella, “Oh you poor dear” implies you are depriving her of something. What if having “just one” was your CHOICE?? (And clearly that is not the case!) I am particulaly sensitive to this topic & have dealt with my share of similar comments. I can handle the ones who are genuinely clueless—but the ones who imply I am somehow harming my child by not providing him with a sibling make me want to tear my hair out. Hang in there…. They just have no idea… (Lucky them!)

  • Anne-Marie

    March 6, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I would have been in total shock, hearing that about my toddler, right now, knowing that I don’t want to decide about him having a sibling or not, for a few YEARS. I wouldn’t have had any idea what to say. I will be shocked, when this happens, when he is four, because…

    WHY DO PEOPLE SAY THESE THINGS?!

    Best case, it’s someone like me, who would be confident with one kid, and just annoyed and shocked that people have no tact. Worst case, there’s been a huge loss, and now there’s grief and pain. WHY. Why would anyone say this?

  • Alexia Blyther

    March 6, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Diana, I have followed you for so long. Your words have been my hope. You are a kindred spirit to so many of us. I haven't been on in quite a while and i read your comment from yesterday and i almost choked. I re-read to make sure that i read it correctly. Then i reviewed old post from 2/25 and saw that it was TRUE. That you were pregnant. My God! I have never wished for a better outcome for anything in life, not even in my own losses! I know that it's so unsure and so unclear and so very weird and so very stressful and i don't want my high hopes and prayers to add to that at all but please know i will be praying for you every day and in every way. I know God has you and this outcome and His hands and he will work out the good through this. But JESUS is there hope and every second that you are okay and doing well, we will continue to just HOPE. God bless you!

  • Tanya Beckel Redfield

    March 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    The best advice I ever got came after we lost our baby, from my best friend's mother. She had lost a son shortly after birth. She wrote me a note that said, "People will say things that hurt. They don't mean to. Hold on to the comments that help, and carefully discard the rest. They mean well. They just don't know." She was so right. Sadly I still remember the comments…stupid things like, "well, you have a cat and sometimes that does it". Twenty four years later I still get comments like "why did you wait so long before you had your second son?". Twenty four years later those comments still sting. Her advice has served me well, though. I try very hard to remember that they were trying to show interest in me. And if it feels right, I'll tell them my story. Other times I just say, "Well, we had a plan, but God had a different one for our lives.". Hang in there… praying this baby is healthy and vibrant!

  • Tracie

    March 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

    That receptionist really SHOULD have thought about that before she said it. Your reply may cause her to think longer and spare the next person some pain.

    Our youngest child is our youngest because I have miscarried FIVE TIMES since he was born and nope … not something I’d like to discuss with a receptionist.

  • Elise N Hoffman

    March 6, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I know it's mean to say, but I wish some people weren't so stupid…
    And then I think of times I opened my mouth and stupidity fell out, but still… that was really, really stupid and thoughtless. Some people. If you bought them a clue, gift-wrapped it in hundred dollar bills, and had it hand-delivered by a singing courier and presented with trumpet fanfare on a golden platter, they still would not get it.

  • Annet M

    March 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I totally get this too. We struggled to get pregnant with our now almost-7 yr old, and then had a miscarriage (or technically “only” a blown ovum, but I had felt 10 weeks pregnant) when he was 18 months old and since then nothing. Nada. Granted, we haven’t gone down the intervention stage, we couldn’t handle that again, but many months I feel slightly off and I think, is this the month, is it going to happen after all these years?
    It happens less now than when he was younger, but always questions about our “decision” to only have 1… like a lifestyle choice (which granted for some it is) Hurt more when he started asking for a younger sibling because “he was responsible now”. I’ve been thinking of Bella’s heart since you made the announcement. Oh, so much, I too hope this baby lives. Praying for all of you.

  • Mikenandrea Sterling

    March 5, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I'm reading this with tears streaming down my face. This hurt is so familiar- I dread the questions "how many kids do you have?", because it is ALWAYS followed up with something like, "only one? Why??" or "Oh, you only could handle one, huh" or…insert painful comment here. My daughter is a big sister-but her siblings never got to know her. Her baby brother was so loved by her-they really do invest in those siblings long before they're ever born. And it KILLS me that she won't get to be a big sister. So, so sorry for your hurt, and for the ache in your heart that comes from not being able to guarantee the outcome you want. Praying for you and your family, for Bella's tender heart and the baby on the way.

  • melissa

    March 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Sending

  • Jessica Ebersole

    March 5, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    what a beautiful and sad post all at the same time. thank you so much for sharing this raw and private side of your life. I love your blog and know that I am praying for as you embark on this journey again. <3

  • Karen Perry Habiger

    March 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    On my weary, sad days I would say, "I had a son. He died." Usually ended the conversation with that one. But, I also met some very compassionate people when I answered that way.

  • Beth Wollenberg

    March 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Be strong love.. People don't think before they speak, I'm praying hard for you and bella, I've followed your blog since the beginning, you have a team behind you.

  • Karen Perry Habiger

    March 5, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    I have 3 daughters. My son died before my youngest was born. People would often ask, "All girls?", even "Will you keep trying for a boy?" On my best days I would just say, "Yes, all girls.

  • Elspeth

    March 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    She has no right to say something like that. There are a multitude of reasons to raise an only child, some tragic, some purposeful, and being an only child isn’t something to pity. Having to bury three siblings is something to be appropriately sorry for, but growing up as an only child is not the torture that ignorant people make it out to be. (I’m an only child and I grew up just fine.)

    Sure, she didn’t know WHY Bella doesn’t have any (living) siblings, and as such she should have kept her mouth shut.

    “Poor little dear.” What an awful thing to say.

    1. Alanna

      March 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Yes. Exactly. Thank you for being so eloquent Elspeth, these were my first thiughts as well.

  • Jacquelyn Aguirre

    March 5, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Diana – I've read your blog for the last six months or so, and pray for you with each post. I felt a mixture of emotions when you announced your pregnancy, and have now said a prayer for your each day since. I'll make sure to add Bella to that prayer as well. Kids say things that rip your guts open don't they? I don't think what you said to that woman was wrong at all. Maybe next time that woman will keep her mouth shut.

  • vpruett

    March 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I hope so too, sweet girl. I hope so too!

  • Brandy

    March 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    ugh… people have no idea what they’re saying. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt but seriously??? So insensitive sometimes. I have to very frequently pray that God give me grace for the people who say stupid stuff as we battle infertility.

    1. Brandy

      March 5, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Okay so maybe that was my frustrated (for myself and you) flesh speaking. Maybe you should write the receptionist a short note … not only to clarify but to possibly prevent her for saying hurtful lines to someone else in a tough situation.

  • Jasmin Lopez

    March 5, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Sorry that this happened to you and Bella. People seem to make comments without even thinking all the time and this is a situation in which her teacher should not have even said that at all. I’ll be praying for your family, stay optimistic, youre so strong!!

  • ksawrites

    March 5, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Awww Diana. I’m so sorry that happened. Sending love.

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