My mother says this to me all of the time. Whenever I come to her exasperated and in disbelief by the comments someone made to me ("be lucky you don't have a baby and can sleep in," for example), before I can even finish my tales of woe and frustration, she spits the words out at me. "They just weren't thinking." Of course they weren't, right? If they were thinking, they would realize that it's probably a terrible idea to tell a mother who gave birth to a dead baby seven months ago that she's lucky she doesn't have a child. After all, these are relatives and friends we're talking about. Relatives and friends don't want to intentionally hurt you. Same goes for each "it's different, you only have one child" or "that's because you only have a boy" that fleck off pieces of my flesh each time they hit the air around me. "They just weren't thinking." It's supposed to comfort me, knowing they weren't thinking. It's supposed to make me say "oh, okay, so it wasn't intentionally malicious" and wipe the sweat off my brow and go back to whatever I was doing unscathed. No one has to be accountable when they aren't thinking. They can just say "I wasn't even thinking about that" and everything is peachy. Right?
It doesn't work that way. Because the that that they weren't thinking of is the daughter I carried in my body for thirty weeks. The one who looked just like her father, a real life recreation of his baby photos. The that that they weren't thinking of was the terminally ill diagnosis I received, the way I laid in bed at night feeling her move and knowing our time with her was limited. It's the way my world started falling apart at the seams when the first specialist first used the term "incompatible with life." It's the way my world continued to bleed out in front of me when the movement stopped. It's the way I screamed in pain and terror as she left my body and the room was silent because she was dead. It's the fact that I'm not even thirty and I have a really, really long life to live without ever seeing her face again. Her face. My child's face. That is the that that no one is thinking of. I'm hard pressed as to how I'm supposed to find comfort in the thought that seemingly no one close to me is ever thinking of my daughter. Each "they just weren't thinking" fits more like a "no one really cares" and "they forgot about that already" and they weigh down on my bones until I feel them breaking. The foundation of who I am is so creaky and cracked and, yet, it's the ones I love the most, the ones who pride themselves on being bandages on my wounds, who are slowly ensuring my bones will eventually altogether implode.
I am sensitive. I have always been sensitive, but I am probably even more sensitive now. Single friends post memes congratulating one another on making it through the year without getting knocked up and having to put down the booze in exchange for bottles of milk and boxes of diapers. I curse their insensitivity, though they aren't trying to be insensitive. I roll my eyes at Facebook statuses about expectant parents hoping the baby is one sex over the other as if anything could remotely matter more than a healthy, living, breathing child and try to settle the anger in my stomach by rationalizing that this person doesn't know the pain I do -- and I can't crucify those who only know naivety. I explain the power of words to people and they make it seem as if I expect people to walk on eggshells around me. As if they should all shield their pregnant bellies or their newborns away from me, as if they shouldn't ever use the words "pregnancy" or "baby" because I may fall into the fetal position and will myself to die right there in the middle of My Gym. Really, that isn't so. Really, all I want is for people to stop throwing bricks at my face -- which is an awful lot what it feels like when they "just don't think." Of that. Of her. Of the trauma we went through that forever changed us. Of the fact we are obviously different than who we were before May 12th when we learned we would be parents who got to choose an urn for their child instead of finishing up the nursery.
I have friends who remember Wylie. We talk about pregnancies and they ask about my pregnancies with both children. "Were you more sick with Ethan or Wylie?" "Did you have the same cravings for both kids?" "Were both kids big or was Wylie smaller than Ethan because she was a girl?" "Did you have a c-section with both?" There are the friends with newborns who ask me if I want to hold their baby and don't treat me as if I'm going to bolt out the door with their precious bundle of joy in tow and set up a sweet plot for a babynapping Lifetime movie. These are the questions, the conversations, the actions that work towards healing my heart. The fact that she died seven months ago and I still hear her name in conversation, well, it's the closest thing to spending time with my infant daughter that I'm going to get -- and the same will go ten years from now, twenty, thirty. When life is breathed into her name and her memory, she feels less gone. I feel less alone. My arms feel less empty. But when they just don't think about that, when people act as if it's the sound of her name that will hurt me when it's the silence that kills, when I get told how much easier my life is because I only have one child in it -- it's a thousand steps back.