Editor’s note: This post deals with sensitive content that may be triggering for some readers. If you too have lost a child to stillbirth, and are looking for support, please visit this website.
I’m not a normal mum.
The normal joy surrounding a baby’s birth involves squeals of excitement and happy-tears, followed by the standard questions:
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“What did you name him/her?”
“How much does he/she weigh?”
Normal parents proudly answer these questions in a tone that says….“Not only did we have a boy; but we had the BEST boy, with the PERFECT name, at the PERFECT weight.” And so they should. A newborn baby is absolute perfection as far as any parent is concerned. The baby could have a squished-up face, a mis-shaped head and a mop of black hair that it’s yet to grow into. But a new parent sees none of it. They see the best baby of all the babies that ever were!
I know, because like every other new mum, I feel the same way.
In my opinion, Xavier Rocket is a cut above the rest – the cutest, with the coolest name at an impeccable little size. I can answer all of the above questions with pride, but unlike normal new mum’s I often miss out on bragging rights because people are too scared to ask. Once they realise our little guy died, they are frozen into a helpless state. They let out a gasp, instead of an excited squeal. They tilt their head as sad-tears come in the place of happy ones. And then – silence. As if the silence weren’t already deafening enough.
I’ve tried to break the silence. Many times.
I’ve tried to encourage a normal mum conversation with a hairdresser, a beautician and the lady at the bank. None of which went well. I think this is because I was inflexibly committed to never denying my son’s existence. When he was born, I made a pact with my husband that if I was asked, “Do you have kids?” I would respond with the truth. Every other new mum gets to. So why can’t I? I was ok with the fact that my answer might make people uncomfortable. I felt that was their issue. But what I didn’t realise was that people’s awkwardness and ensuing silence would actually make me uncomfortable. And incredibly hurt.