I was “talking” to someone who very recently lost their precious baby and was reminded of the days immediately after Andrew’s birth. One of the weirdest things about being a mommy to a stillborn baby is the awkwardness of going out in public right after it. I walked out of the hospital (yes, I walked out on my own and opted against the wheelchair) – after all, how depressing to ride in a wheelchair like all the other mothers when there is no baby in your arms. The nurse let me sneak out the back door where I met Kevin with the car. I appreciated her understanding.
I didn’t go out a whole lot right after Andrew died. I was surrounded by family for most of a week and Kevin was at home in between summer school and the start of the school year. I do remember making a couple of trips out and I literally felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter on my chest, indicating the horror that I had just endured. I think part of this thinking was the awkwardness of still appearing to be pregnant while not having a child in my arms as “proof.” I don’t know about any of you moms out there, but I was certainly sporting the pregnant belly for a few weeks. It definitely was a deflated pregnant belly, but it was there nonetheless.
One errand I remember running was to Walmart. What a terrible choice of venues. We needed to purchase a picture frame to display one of Andrew’s pictures at his memorial service and I remember hobbling through the parking lot to make my way through the madness. I felt like I was waddling since I was still healing “down there.” What an awful thing to be doing just after you gave birth.
I also remember going out a few days later after most of my family had left town. Kevin’s parents were still here and I was itching to at least step foot outside. It was super hot and we thought Rita’s italian ices were the ticket, so we hopped in the car and headed across town for the nearest one. I remember trying to explain to Kevin’s parents about this mystical place that we loved so much. For some reason, we were not doing a good job of explaining the different between a plain italian ice, a gelati, and a splendita. It started to get comical the longer they stared at the menu of flavors. Kevin and I started laughing and I distinctly remember the awkwardness of seeing my belly shake like a bowl full of jelly. It was downright gross. I was still wearing a pair of maternity shorts and even had an over sized shirt on, but I felt like the whole room was staring at my nasty belly. I know they weren’t, but I just felt like I had this spotlight on me.
Normally, this sort of situation wouldn’t bother me in the least. After all, most moms have the belly for a little while after giving birth, but they also have their babies or baby carriers nearby so the rest of the world knows the reason for it. I didn’t have that. I just had a deflated belly, stretched skin, and no baby in tow. It just plain stunk. It made going out in public a little awkward the first few days. The weight finally came off and things got better, but those first few days/weeks were hard.
Going out in public after loosing Andrew wasn’t just difficult from a physical standpoint. I remember visiting Staples and just feeling like it was all a big dream. Didn’t the world know what I had been through? Is ink really all that important after loosing your child? It was all surreal. I think I was still dealing with the shock and trauma of it all.
It’s made me think differently when I observe the people around me in public. It’s easy to assume a lot of things about people just by an initial glance or look. I try not to do that anymore. We really have no idea the scars that people around us might be wearing or the battle wounds that might still be healing. I try to be more patient with people and cut them a little slack, rather than assuming the worst. Maybe that moody person in the checkout line has just been through a tragedy of their own. Whether they have or not, I think it’s better to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I sure hope people did that with me those first few days out in public.