Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why I no longer say congratulations.

Someone has a baby, you say congratulations right?  I used to.  But I can't any longer.

Congratulations can imply something was done successfully.  That someone won something.  That the individual receiving congratulations did something right...not wrong.

Ethan died 4 days after he was born.  I got a lot of beautiful condolence and support cards, and only one actually congratulated us on the birth of our child.  (Thank you Jen for this, I will always remember that)

What did other moms whose babies lived do right that I did wrong?  To earn the congratulations when I did not?  Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps a small something...that is the dark room where my mother's guilt lives.

I just can't bring myself to say "congratulations" to people anymore when they have a healthy baby.  Externally it is a simple way to acknowledge something lovely has happened.  Internally it feels like I am acknowledging that they were successful and I failed.  Internally it feels like I allowed the failure.  And I just can't sit with that comfortably.  I tried so hard.  So very hard to bring Ethan here healthy.  But it didn't happen.

Three friends have had babies over the last two weeks.  So, what do I say to them?  My fingers sit on the keyboard and wait.  Wait for some words to come that work.  Words to convey my happiness for them.  Words that won't betray the grieving mother in me.  Words that won't hijack their beautiful moments with my sadness.  Words that do justice to both of us.  Words that won't add to the tears that are already flowing.  I think I usually say something about how fabulous their baby is and to soak in their blessings.  And then I hope that they understand.  Understand why a simple congratulations is no longer simple for me.