The question came. The one I have sort of been dreading. The sweet, much younger and innocent girl looked at my belly with big, wide and excited eyes and gleamingly asked me, “Is this your first?” Pause. Breathe.
These are the moments where my head has to take lead. Where I have to set aside my mommy-heart and think for a few seconds how I want to respond. I know the answer. Of course I know the truthful answer. No, this isn’t my first. Or my second. It’s my sixth. I have been pregnant six times, lost five babies and held one of them silently in my arms. I now hold one in my womb. That makes six. And that also makes for a very uncomfortable elevator ride. So I get to choose how to respond and I’ve given myself permission to respond however I need to, to get through the moment.
This time I was honest and said “no.” And by God’s grace, no further questions were asked. I was waiting for the next plausible inquiry that could have been made about my other child that this well-meaning stranger may have asked about. But there were no further questions. Luckily it was a very short elevator ride.
This is a difficult question to answer. Not because of the question itself, but because of what could possibly follow. If I choose to say yes, this is my first, for the sake of skipping all the messy stuff in my story, I take the risk of what may come- the advice that others LOVE to give pregnant women. If you’ve ever been pregnant, regardless of your story-you know what I mean. On top of that, I get a little overwhelmed by the innocence and excitement of this, because what’s really happening is that I although I am also thrilled, I am holding back a vault of emotions. Yes I know how much bigger I’ll get, I know that giving birth is excruciating, I know that I “should sleep now” before the baby gets here.
Gets here. Baby. Sleep.
I don’t care if I ever sleep again, as long as my baby gets here. I’ve endured countless sleepless nights crying for my baby whom I wish was there to keep me awake. Sleep (although obviously necessary) does not rank high on my list of priorities. But I don’t always feel like explaining that to a stranger, yet I don’t always have the strength to hold it back.
And it also comes with a load of guilt. I have a son in heaven, one who still holds my heart and always will. One who I never want to deny or stop talking about. One who deserves for his name to be spoken, especially by his mother.
No, this isn’t my first. But I sure hope this will be the first one entering this world screaming, crying, breathing.
It’s an innocent question. It means no harm or intentional pain. But each time I hear it, it feels like I have been sucker punched. She will never be my first. She has a brother. A brother she will never meet here on this earth, but a brother she will know all about. A brother she can love and embrace as part of her family. She will not be an only child. But possibly my only child here.