Empathy

I was at a conference this past week and a group of my colleagues decided to go out to dinner together. We all work in different parts of the country, but we have been attending these conferences for years and know each other personally. It was five of us: myself, three other women, and one man.

We went to dinner at a lovely sea-side bungalow restaurant in Southern California. The man, whom I will call Bob, got up to take a phone call from his wife, who is nearing the end of her second pregnancy. When he got back to the table, we all inquired how she was, and Bob said she was doing just great. I asked if she was huge and miserable, as she is 37+ weeks along. Bob looked at me — I have no idea if he knew about my miscarriages, but I really doubt it — and quietly said, “no, actually, she is just so happy to still be pregnant.

The last three words hung in the air for what seemed like forever. Still. Be. Pregnant.

I tried to think of something to say. All I could think of was “I am sure she is looking forward to holding her healthy baby in her arms.” Bob nodded.

The look on my face or the tone of my voice must have suggested that I was empathetic to the situation, as he then explained to me that she has had a total of five miscarriages: two before their daughter was born; three before this pregnancy. I told him I had just had my second; he smiled understandingly. I have always liked Bob as he is a smart man and a gentle soul. This conversation, however, cemented out friendship.

None of the other women at the table had children or had ever been pregnant. You could see that they felt awkward as we talked so openly about miscarriage and physically squirmed, pretending to read their menus. I didn’t care. I told Bob that I thought the pain of miscarriage was something you could only really understand if you had been there. He agreed.

Sympathy is one thing; empathy another. I don’t want anyone to have to go through miscarriage(s), but it sure is nice to find someone you can talk to who has.

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June 25, 2007. Miscarriage #2.

5 Comments

  1. cat replied:

    This is so true… You’d never wish this on anyone but finding someone who understands how deeply you have mourned is like finding air to breathe.

  2. Ms. Planner replied:

    What a nice story and GREAT recovery. I find much solace in finding those who have also suffered these losses and don’t take their current situation for granted.

    I found your blog from Niobe’s site. We have surprisingly similar stories, almost down to the date.

    Hope the hormones are settling down for you. They simply add insult to injury. Last time I was thinking, “Yeah, um, Life, if it is not too much to ask, next time I’d really like a healthy baby to go with my post partum depression, okay?”

    Kindly, Ms Planner

  3. Kath replied:

    Thank God for people like Bob. He sounds like just the support his wife needs.

    Miscarriage is such a taboo, isn’t it? And it shouldn’t be. I never used to talk about my miscarriages to people in “real life,” but now I’m a lot more open about it. Who knows whom it might help?

  4. niobe replied:

    Yes, I think one of the worst things about miscarriage or neonatal death is that you feel so alone. It’s good to know that that’s not true.

  5. missedconceptions replied:

    I know that reading other blogs on loss, whether it is neonatal death or miscarriage, really helped me reflect on what I was going through and helped me understand that the grief and depression are perfectly normal. I decided to blog because I felt selfish not sharing my thoughts with others.

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