It’s January. Charlotte is two and a half months old and I decide to take us girls on a road trip to see my friend Nicole and her family who live two states away. We’ll stay the night halfway in a small town.
In the morning, I get the girls ready for heading out and trying to make it to breakfast before 9am. It proves to be harder than I thought to get all three of us set, packed, load the car, and out to the dining area but we make it. Barely.
I hold Charlotte in my Tula baby carrier as we eat. She fusses and I step into the side hall a moment so we don’t disturb anyone. Bella calls, “Mama?” And I pop in to reassure her I’m a few feet away and can see her. I notice her turned around to the table behind us. Two women, maybe in their 60’s or 70’s, sit and one has been looking at us the entire time. I get an odd feeling she doesn’t approve of me, although I tell myself that’s bizarre since nothing is happening and we haven’t done a thing. When she leaves, I ask Bella if the lady said anything to her when I was in the hallway. “No,” she says, and although I can’t shake the feeling, I drop it. I’m being paranoid.
We head back to our room and out of nowhere the lady appears, staring at me. “You sure waited a long time,” she says abruptly. I’m taken aback, and laugh a bit.
“Oh, for breakfast? We almost didn’t make it!” I smile and Bella starts to say something to her about Charlotte being fussy when she interrupts.
“No.” She shakes her head and purses her lips, still staring at me with something like scorn in her eyes.
“I meant to have another kid.”
For a moment, it feels like the wind is knocked out of me. She stays put, expecting an answer – although I’ve never been able to figure out what on earth she would want anyone to say to that. I can’t move, can’t breathe. The twins little faces, Kaden’s little smile all flash before me as I inhale sharply.
Then God takes over. There’s no other explanation because what comes out of my mouth wasn’t even close to what I wanted to say.
“Actually,” I say calmly, “we didn’t. It just didn’t work out the way we’d hoped.”
At that, she smirks and walks down the hall. I’m left shaking, fumbling for my card and unable to put it in the door the right way because I can’t see through my tears. I tell myself over and over it’s ok, I did ok, I have to choose my moments and that wasn’t one to share their precious lives.
But it takes me hours to calm down and still I am just now able to write about it.
In those moments after, I alternated between wanting to lay on the bed and cry – and find her to punch her in the head. Really. You would have read about it in the newspaper: “Mom with baby attached to her attacks woman in a hotel hallway.” I was livid. I couldn’t believe she would wait to see me and make that remark. Here I was with two little ones, having fun, thinking to myself how I was doing a good job at our first big trip and how well the girls were doing too – and that’s what she had to say to me.
I (thankfully) didn’t see her again. I called my mom a little while later and she comforted me while also assuring me she couldn’t believe someone could be so callous. I told her I should have just said, “Actually I’ve had three children die in between these two, thanks.” But Mom reminded me of the verse about casting pearls before swine that I’d thought of many times before in other situations. No – I’m not calling this lady a pig. But what I’m saying is this – there are times we don’t share what happened and we withhold our pain because we know if we tell – we could end up with more. Yes, that lady may have felt horrible if I’d told her. But more than likely with her reaction, she wouldn’t have. And I would be left with even more pain of someone dismissing my story and their lives. I’m so protective of their little lives and the memories I have of my boys. I don’t need some bitter woman to ruin any part of that for me. I think back now and it seems unfathomable to me that she would ask that of anyone. Suppose I’d been through a divorce? Or my first husband passed away? Or more kids were in the hotel room with their dad? Or I’d faced infertility? Or we chose to wait that long on purpose? Or we adopted?
OR MY KIDS DIED?
It’s hard to react in a way that seems like I’m hiding something. She caused me great pain and in turn I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to spill my story and all its shock and make her feel horrible. But I didn’t because a stranger’s assumption of me wasn’t worth correcting if it cost a little of my happiness or the beauty of my sons’ lives.
This still hurts. So much. And in a way I’m glad it does because it reminds me how deeply I still feel their loss and how imprinted they are on my heart. I won’t let that be disregarded for anything. She can have her bitter thoughts and words. I’ll keep my memories safe where they belong.