“‘Is he your first?,’ he kindly asks me as Wyatt waves from the grocery cart. My heart starts racing. My palms go sweaty. What should I say? It seems like such a simple question, but I begin to panic. My voice cracks a bit as I begin to speak, ‘Yes, he’s our first,’ I manage to get the words out. He smiles at us. My eyes start to tear up and, immediately, I am filled with guilt as I push the cart and walk away.
The truth is, the real answer to that question is long and complicated; much too long and complicated for a passing stranger in a store. The truth is, we have 5 children. Wyatt is our fifth child. However, he is the first we brought home. We’ve lost 3 in the first trimester of pregnancy, and our sweet Max lived for just 5 weeks in the hospital. And each of those babies have their own complicated story.
So, I tend to assess the situation as quickly as possible to determine what I am going to say: How much time do we have? Can this person handle the real answer? Do they care/need to know our lengthy history? Do I feel emotionally ready to divulge our lengthy history? Depending on those answers, I decide how to respond.
Every now and then, when I think the moment is right, I’ll give a true answer. ‘Well, no he’s not our first, but he is our first living child to come home,’ ‘We have a few angels and this little guy,’ ‘Wyatt has a brother in heaven, and I’ve had a few miscarriages before him,’ ‘He’s not our first, but he is our rainbow.’ But this almost always leads to an awkward exchange with strangers. People get uncomfortable and want to apologize, or they become upset and I end up comforting them. I’ve had complete strangers break down in tears and had to assure them that it really was fine. Even if I am fine, I suddenly feel not fine with how the other person reacts. And it’s not their fault. It’s a little staggering, and how could they prepared for that kind of confession in, say, the grocery store of all places.
Sometimes it is easier to just say, ‘Yes, he’s our first,’ than it is to try to explain everything quickly to someone, and deal with the inevitable awkwardness that will follow. However, there is the guilt of feeling like I’ve left out my other babies. Like I am forgetting them or excluding them. It hurts my heart not to mention them.
So, what is the right way to answer?
I don’t know.
I don’t have this whole loss-parent thing figured out. I don’t know what the right way to deal with it really is. And that is okay. I think it’s okay to not have it all figured out. I actually don’t think there is a right and wrong here. I think we just have to keep trying our best to navigate this life that was given to us; this life that we never could have imagined.
So, we take it day by day. We take it one question, one situation at a time. We gauge our emotions, our feelings, and we do the best we can.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittany King. You can follow their adoption journey on Instagram and on her blog, This Is Still a Good Life. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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