Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Not Contagious...

The day before I went on maternity leave from work I found out a co-worker, who has her office down the hall from me, was pregnant.  She had just started showing and as I walked by her office she politely offered to me a massage chair support cushion her husband had bought her to feel more comfortable at work.  She said, "I don't need it yet," with an energetic and proud smile upon her face.  I replied with, "Thank you, but I don't plan on being pregnant much longer," as my induction date was only four days away.  As we parted ways she wished me luck with the delivery.

Since returning to work, six weeks later and working for over 3 weeks now, this woman has avoided me like the plague.  I walk by her office often.  I have noticed she is larger now, closer to full term and her impending due date.  I know that she notices me, because whenever I walk by she stares straight ahead, dodging my gaze in an effort to avoid me and the possibility I remind her of.  The reality that pregnancy is not a promise and life does giveth and taketh away at its own choosing.

I do not know this woman well, before Nora's death she was always kind to me, smiling when she saw me, nodding in my direction with a sign of recognition that we coexist, but that doesn't even happen anymore.  This bothered me.  I was angered by this.  I did not wish any ill fortune on this woman, I would never wish my tragedy onto another, the pain is too great. I also understand that maybe she felt embarrassed as if she was a reminder to me of what I could no longer have. But, either way, could she not just be decent and come up to me and say, "I am sorry for your loss," or better yet the truth which is, "I am scared to look at you, let alone talk to you, in fear that I will catch whatever killed your baby, be it an illness, disease, or just your bad karma and bad luck."  At least that would be honest.

So, after working and walking by her office for three weeks I made the first move.  Our paths crossed one afternoon as she was heading to her car and I getting ready to leave.  I approached her and said with a smile, "When are you due?"  She was taken aback and startled at what seemed to be my voice or even the tone of excitement and friendliness I used to let her know I wished no harm to her and her baby, as if she thought maybe I am now a powerful, vengeful witch whose voice alone can curse your baby-luck.          

She caught her breath, looked at me, trying to manage a smile and said, "Six weeks."  I smiled back, and said, "Well, you look great.  Good Luck!"  The conversation from a few months ago reversed now, except my face was not filled with innocent hope as hers was during the exchange weeks before.  The words, "Good luck," coming from my mouth take on a different meaning, a different promise, a larger hope.  I meant it when I said, "Good luck." I meant it in its deepest form.

This co-worker still avoids me.  Not sure why.  Hopefully, after her child is successfully brought into this world and she returns to work we can be more at ease with each other again, and she will realize that pregnancy and child loss is not contagious.  It's not a disease. And that even though, as bereaved parents we have lost children of our own, that we do not wish this pain on you and yours.  Actually, it is the exact opposite.  I hope for you only blessings and joy with your child and your future.  Yes, it hurts me to see you in such joy and remember when I had that innocence, when I was in your shoes, but I am glad that not everyone has to lose that joy or innocence, because I hope someday that little pieces of it will find their way back to me. 

If you are pregnant, and hear of, or know of someone in your life who has experiences this, even just a friend of a friend, when you see them, do not shy away from them, please.  Treat them as you did before, acknowledge them, and if they need space from you and the joy you exude from your pregnancy, they will let you know with their actions or words.  Don't take this personally if they choose to avoid you but please be strong enough to acknowledge them and their deceased child, they probably will appreciate it.  And remember, it's not contagious.    

Still Breathing...Lindsey


  1. Lindsey this post made me cry. Every time I read your blog I am reminded of what an amazing woman you are. It CAN be hard for others to know what to say - above all I think most people simply do not want to do anything that might in some way add to your pain. Your strength and loving heart is an inspiration. Peace and love to you friend - you may never entirely reclaim your innocence, but joy WILL be yours, I'm sure of it. <3

  2. If I could just copy and paste your last paragraph to all of my pregnant/new mom friends... especially the part about not taking it personally if I avoid them. We lost our son a month ago and I have been slowly reading your blog from the beginning after finding it last week. Thank you for being open and honest. xoxo


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