What should be a simple/small talk question, "Do you have any children?" still makes my heart drop.
I will never forget the 1st time someone asked me (he was a friend of a friend's Mom and was just making small talk to pass the time, it was about 2 months after Zach died) and I said yes, he asked how old. I was frozen, I had no idea what to say. So, I proceeded to say that he passed away in July and that he was born early because preeclampsia and then died five days later... I couldn't stop talking, although I still did not know what to say. By the time I finished, I was in tears and this poor stranger was in shock and couldn't get away from me fast enough. I spent the entire rest of the day wondering if I said the right thing, did my story honor my son, how can I go through that everytime someone asks, etc. I felt horrible. I felt as though if I said I didn't have any children then I would be betraying my son but, that if I tried to say yes and explain then it would not do him justice. I am very guarded with his memory and am uneasy to share it with someone when I think that it will just be a passing comment to them - I want them to truly understand how much his life and preeclampsia have affected me. Of course, it is impossible for anyone who has not been through it to really understand though.
I have given this issue a lot of thought and here is what I now do when that question comes up. I basically say whatever I feel I can handle at the moment. Usually, if it is a complete stranger, then I say no. I have gotten over the incredible guilt that I first felt. My son knows how much I love him and that he is the best thing that ever happened to me. To all others (sometimes even strangers if I am in the right environment), I say that I do have a son. If they inquire further, then I tell them that he passed away as a result of prematurity from preeclampsia.
For me this was such a hard issue to deal with. I felt horrible no matter what I said because the question only threw right back in my face the fact that I do have a baby but, he's in God's care and not mine. I hope that in time, no matter who asks, I am able to say yes, I do have a son and not worry about their response or their reaction. But for now, I can only say that when I feel that I'm in a "safe" environment.
The only advice I can offer you is to do what you feel comfortable. Goodness knows it is hard enough just surviving right now. Your daughter knows your immense love for her and that she is forever in your heart and life.
I think I just babbled more than answered your question... But, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. My prayers are with you.
Zachary James, 7/22/03-7/27/03, born at 26wks - severe pe
Southern California Coordinator