Uncomfortable Questions

by Kathy on July 1, 2008 · 8 comments

in Bob, Loss, Molly, Sean

This afternoon I took Sean for a much needed haircut. Though I LOVE his sweet brown curls, they were getting fairly long and in the heat of the summer I think my dear son deserved to cool off a bit and lighten his load. Sean had not been to our neighborhood barber shop since the day after Molly was born and went to Heaven. Bob had taken him that Friday after bringing Sean to visit me in my post-partum room at the hospital.

When we entered the barber shop we saw that one of the ladies who cuts hair there had an open chair. Sean and I went over to her chair and he climbed up and made himself comfortable. He has come a long way since his early days of getting haircuts and did a pretty good job of sitting still. The woman cutting his hair was making small talk with Sean and he seemed to be enjoying chatting with her.

About half way through Sean’s haircut the woman said to him, “do you have any brothers or sisters?” It was an innocent question and she certainly had no idea what she was in for by inquiring. Had she asked me I might have just brushed it off and said “no,” but Sean being the sweet and straightforward four year old that he is, looked at me for a moment (as if to ask if it was okay to share and I smiled and nodded to indicate that I thought that it was) and then proceeded to answer. Sean said “I had a baby sister…she was in mommy’s tummy…but then she came out and died…we named her Molly.” You can imagine the look on the woman’s face after she digested Sean’s words. I quickly jumped in and explained to her as concisely as I could, without trying to make her feel too sad for us, what had happened with our pregnancy and our daughter/Sean’s baby sister.

The woman was very nice and empathetic about the whole thing. She told us how sorry she was for our loss. She seemed very genuine and asked some questions about the details of our journey with Molly. I didn’t mind answering and was proud of myself that I didn’t lose it in the middle of the barber shop. The woman shared with me her experience with her sister having a miscarrage and one of her daughter’s former teachers having a child that was stillborn.

Later when I relayed the story to Bob, he reminded me that the day he took Sean to get his last haircut, the day after Molly was born and died, that the woman cutting his hair (not the same one who we had today) had asked Sean a similar question and he had shocked her by telling her that his baby sister had been born and gone to Heaven the day before. That time Bob had also followed up Sean’s answer with an explanation about what our family had just experienced.

I am finding out, as we approach Thursday’s 11 week post-partum milestone, that there will be many uncomfortable questions in the days, months and years to come about the members of our family. I have been fascinated learning how other babylost mamas answer such questions such as: “How many children do you have?” or “Is Sean your oldest?” I have only been asked those questions twice since Molly was born and died and both times I chose not to share about my daughter, though I felt guilty in someways for not telling the person who inquired about our baby girl, as if I was denying her existence. However, I also knew that those who had asked were really just making small talk, like the women cutting Sean’s hair had been doing today, and I didn’t want to shock or make them uncomfortable by giving telling them the “real” and lengthy answer.

I understand that there may be times when it feels right to me to share more openly and truthfully when asked how many children I have. Especially days like today, when Sean is with me (he wasn’t the two times I was asked previously), I might be more likely to do so. I was impressed by my son’s example this afternoon and how he was able to answer the woman who was cutting his hair’s question about siblings. I continue to be amazed by and proud of how Sean seems to accept the reality of what happened with his baby sister Molly.

Thank you for reading, for “listening” and for your continued support, thoughts and prayers.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Natalie July 1, 2008 at 10:38 pm

It always surprizes me, in a way, and warms me how children answer such hard questions. To them it is what it is. Sometimes I wish I could care less about how uncomfortable the other person is, but I always do care.


2 T-Mommy July 2, 2008 at 3:39 am

Dear Kathy,

I really amazes me the great way you and Bob explain and manage things with Sean. You are doing an outstanding job and I am learning so much from it.

For me, sometimes is difficult to answer how my delivery was when “strangers” ask me, because tears just begin to flow…. I can’t really imagine how hard those questions are for you!

I continue to pray for you and your sweet family.

A big hug for all of you!


3 Kymberli July 2, 2008 at 7:00 am

Sean is such a sweet boy. If I was alone I would also just avoid answering the question. It seems like Sean gives you a certain strength to be able to handle those situations.


4 Katie July 2, 2008 at 9:24 am

I wish that I had some advice for you, but I truly don’t. I think that whatever you decide to answer will probably be what feels right for each situation.

Sometimes, like this time, it will feel right and good to talk about Molly. Other times, it will just be easier and feel better to not do so.

I feel some what the same way when people ask if this is our first. 99% of the time I say yes, because it’s just easier and I don’t want to make people sad. But every once in awhile, I say no, it’s our sixth pregnancy and then I wish I hadn’t as I have to explain that it will be our first baby to live. Then, every once in awhile, I will find a kindred spirit, someone who gets it, and I am glad that I shared.

It is different with miscarriage, though, than what you went through with Molly. So, I really hope you are able to find responses that you are comfortable with to those tough questions.


5 Martha July 2, 2008 at 10:37 am

Children are so wise and I learn so much from them, thank you. What a wonderful son and brother to honor his sister and family with his sharing. Thank you and sending my best.


6 Fertilized July 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I need your parenting skills – tell me your secret. I just love hearing your stories and interactions with Sean.


7 k@lakly July 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

I don’t know when it is that we lose the ability to just be honest and focus more on protecting ourselves or more likely others from the truth. I think it is remarkable that you were able to share Molly with the haircutter so soon after all you have been through. I am at 10 months post loss and have only just gotten to the point where I will volunteer the information and then only if I feel the listener will really be able to hear what I am saying and not just dismiss it with a polite nod and I’m sorry, which would kill me.
I never realized until joining ‘the club’, just how painful the question “How many children do you have?” could be.


8 Carole July 5, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I find myself asked this question in various forms every once in awhile. For the most part I don’t tell strangers about Joseph. If it’s someone I’m getting to really know…then they’ll hear the story…and get to know him the way we did.

Joseph is a special part of our lives…and I think I feel protective of him.


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