Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Fab Lunch and an Awkward Moment

The restaurant was buzzing with well dressed ladies and businessmen, the starters had been served, and I was happily sipping a glass of prosecco. A friend who I had not seen in quite some time wandered over from one of the other tables. Greeting were exchanges, I was happy to see her. Then came the question, "So how's the little one?" I sat there frozen, millions of thoughts racing through my head. She didn't know, how could she not know, what to say, how to say it, and how to say anything without crying in front of everyone?

I will back up a bit and explain. I belong to an expat club here in London. I have met an amazing group of women from all over the world who all find themselves living in the UK. Most of us are trailing spouses (although we do have quite a few English members as well). Giving up jobs and friends at home to support our dear husbands career pursuits in a foreign land. It is a very close knit sorority of women who have become my family away from home.

It was our annual Christmas Lunch which was held at the uber posh Fifth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols in London. Now I know what you're thinking, "All expat ladies do is coffee mornings and posh lunches." I'm not here to promote or discourage any stereotypes about trailing spouses, we do a lot more than champagne lunches.... but today was a champagne lunch.

I've had a super rough time emotionally since returning back from the US. It's like things are hitting me all over again. I think the shock of losing our son has really worn off now and I'm starting to face the reality of life without him. I even missed a Holiday Party over the weekend because I just couldn't bear it (which by the way is highly unusual for me because I love parties). So I was really looking forward to this lunch.

I got dressed up in a super cute tunic, leggings, and knee high boots combo and spent a good amount of time doing my hair and makeup.  I am a girly girl and love a chance to get all glammed up. I had promised myself no tears today because who wants to ruin perfectly applied eye makeup??

There were 36 of us at this lunch so we took up several tables at the restaurant. I did a quick scan of the other tables and saw several women who I hadn't seen in quite some time and  a small number of new faces. But I wasn't worried because this is a group of women who all talk to each other and so I was confident that there wasn't anyone in the room who didn't know what had happened to me. Well, anyone except for some of the newer members who didn't know me at all so wouldn't know that I was pregnant and had lost a baby in August,,, 3 weeks before his due date.

So when this particular women walked over to the table to chat I was happy. I had planned on going over to say hi. I really like her and was going to suggest we get together for coffee (again, I'm not here to support or deny any stereotypes about expat wives) and catch up.

Hugs and greetings were exchanged and then came the question, "So how's the little one?" As I sat there in my frozen state with a shocked look on my face I could see the horror creeping up in here eyes. My lack of ability to answer with the expected, "He's great," was starting to sink in to her. Luckily for me, my dear friend who was sitting right next to me stepped in to save the day. My friend softly whispered something into her ear. I only heard the word "stillborn" but nothing else. The woman looked shocked and tearful and quickly apologized. I assured her that it was OK and that I knew she didn't know (obviously or she wouldn't have asked). She then made her excuses and shuffled off back to her table. My dear friend then turned to me and said in that dry witty way that only the English can pull off, "Well that was awkward."

There is a bit more to tell, but I've got a bunch of stuff to do today so I must get off the computer. More to come later on.


  1. Oh... those moments we all know so well and dread so much. I'm over three years into my new normal and I still get those "How's the baby" questions. It's unbelievable, but there's so many people that somehow didn't get the memo that universe sucks and babies die.

    Maybe that's why I feel the need to create statement shirts and billboards. Easier to whip out a sign instead of answering that painful question over and over and over. Glad you had a good friend by your side that moment...

  2. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier if I wore a button that said, "Hi, my name is ______ and my baby died this year." That way people could ask me how I'm doing instead of how my baby is.

  3. Oh my god, how awful for you. I don't know what to say, I bet the woman felt terrible, it's the kind of stupid thing I'd end up doing (accidentally of course)

    Found you through blog gems.

  4. I don't know how to comment on this. It seems trite to say that losing a baby or a child is the one thing that all parents fear the most, but it's still true. And then that you were reminded of what might have been just made me shiver. Wishing you the very best (over from Blog Gems).

  5. I'm so glad your friend was there to support you at that dreadfully awkward moment.

  6. Awkward is definitely the word. So sorry that you have to go through these moments - and, like Becca said, so glad your friend was there for support. Visiting from Blog Gems.

  7. Your shock must have been awful and that poor lady must have been very upset too, that she didn't know. Big hugs. Jen

  8. I'm still having moments like this. But I think I'm getting better and knowing what to say. Well not really, the last one ended with me crying at Starbucks.

  9. Hi there. I followed your blog as I was searching information on stillbirth. I lost my son at fullterm a month ago.

    And just 2 days ago, I finally went out with my husband after 1 month staying at home. A friend with good intention asked me whether I've delivered and asked about my baby's gender and remarked "How lucky!"

    My husband and I both can't even tell her that my baby was stillborn, and at the end I just smiled. But a little more of myself died inside at that moment.

    I guess these questions will still haunt us, Moms of Angels for some time. The people who throw us that kind of questions will feel bad eventually after knowing the truth.


  10. Oh mELna, I am so sorry you had to go through that so soon after losing your son. It does get easier to answer the question with time, but it is always uncomfortable.

  11. Hi there, I just found your blog and it has been very inspiring reading how live gets better and I can relate to what you were feeling at this time in your life.
    My daughter was born sleeping in October 15. after 40 weeks and we are learning how to live without her.

    Yesterday one of my classmates asked me a very uncomfortable question.. "how's life with a baby, and have you named her?" I just couldn't say anything at that moment and blurped out "No" ... Life is very hard right now.

    Sóley, from Iceland