There are two things that I have learned to stop doing since Charlie’s birth. As I have explained in my first post ever, I no longer apologize for my moments of weakness or sporadic melancholy moods. More importantly, I have stopped assuring people that everything will be alright.
I know, the second statement sounds rather harsh. However, I have learned to choose my words wisely from my experience as a NICU mom.
For example, when Charlie’s early birth was imminent. We were told by those around us that everything was going to be OK. Charlie’s birth was everything other than alright. I mourned, grieved, was angry, saddened, and in shock. I felt guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed for feeling that way. After all, I was repeatedly told how OK things were and how they would work out. I was disappointed in myself for not experiencing the glowing happiness that I felt was expected of me.
Later, I was connected with a parent that had a preemie around the same gestational age as Charlie a year prior to Charlie’s birth. Somewhere in discussing our babies and hearing their reassurance, I let myself believe a fallacy. I thought because things turned out exceedingly well for them (their baby caught up before the age of one), it would happen for our baby too. A month after Charlie came home, I realized things were not going to be the same for us. Even worse, it felt like my fears, concerns, and questions were dismissed every time I was told how everything was going to be fine.
Finally, on the occasions that Charlie was hospitalized, I observed the events surrounding the passing of other people’s babies. I overheard as the families were told that it was okay or it was for the best. I cringed. I wondered if “it will be alright” was repeated throughout their baby’s ordeal.
It is not fine, it is not alright, nor is it okay when a baby is born early, still, or passes. These are among the things in life that are not supposed to happen… but for some reason they do. I do not know if or when it will ever be okay for these families.
Instead of empty reassurances, I tell them I’m sorry. I listen. I answer questions about our experience as honestly as I can. I remind them that every baby is different. I let them know that I am thinking about them. Mostly, I only speak of things that I know to be true. I feel I owe that to them.
I have stopped telling people things will turn out okay or that everything will be fine. Mostly, because I don’t have a clue that it will be.