Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Know When to Say Something

By Christine Russo

When do we, as mamas who choose to carry to birth, know when to tell people about our precious child's ill fate? It's such a confusing and sometimes uncomfortable discussion to have, and most of the time we're blindsided by it. "Oh look at your sweet belly! When are you due?" Or "Is it a boy or a girl? Are you so excited??" Or "You're probably so ready and buying tons of cute clothes!" Well-meaning sweet people all wanting to know about our growing bumps are potential emotional land mines in a day out running errands, potential triggers that could cause us to lose it at any moment. We can't blame them, they don't know any better. I was once as blissfully unaware as they. Completely innocent and naive to the world of fatal diagnoses in the womb as so many are.

There were days I would show off my belly and just beg people in my mind to talk about my pregnancy. On those good days, I wanted any chance to talk about my precious girl. Those were such beautiful times and I cherish those memories. Then there were my bad days when I would try to hide my belly (as much as I could after week 18) and avoided any situation where someone might say something because I knew on those days, I would break down. I remember how hard it was for me to know when was the 'appropriate time' to tell someone new about Gianna and sometimes it led to me secluding myself.

There were situations where I had to lie; I had to pretend everything was perfect. And boy did those conversations eat away at my soul. Slowly chipping away at the small amount of innocence I had left. It always left me feeling not only sad, but a little bitter. Bitter in knowing what SHOULD have been with my dear Gianna. Once on a bad day, I encountered a woman at a party who didn't know our daughters diagnosis and wouldn't let my pregnancy go. I tried to be short and to the point with my answers (which was horrible because I should be so incredibly excited about my girl) but she always came back to talk more. Finally I knew I had to say something because even people around me who knew looked uncomfortable. I finally said, "I'm so sorry, but she isn't expected to make it after birth." The poor woman looked humiliated. I was humiliated and could feel the hot tears about to flow. So I ran. I ran upstairs, hid in the bathroom and cried. It ended up fine, but it's so hard to go through when you're ready to break at any moment.

I eventually came to a point where I was comfortable with my own tears and feelings. I came to the realization after speaking with several bereaved mommies who have been there before that it's ok to let your real emotions out, even with strangers. Sometimes, grief needs to be witnessed to be healed and, although it didn't help me 'heal' while I was carrying, it made my heart happy to share about Gianna in an honest way. Now I look at those hard moments as things Gianna and I conquered together. She gave me all the strength I needed to get through those hard times. She made sure I was a brave mommy.

It's about whatever YOU are feeling in that moment, there are no right and wrong ways to handle these encounters. Whatever you need to do that day, whether it be hiding out or sharing your precious baby with the world, then do it. Stay true to your feelings and ride those waves of emotions because in the end, this is the only time we get with our angels. Be gentle and understanding with yourself.

~ ~ ~

Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, her first and only child. She carried Gianna after receiving a fatal diagnosis halfway into her pregnancy. Through the love and spirit of their special daughter, who means the world to them, they wish to help support other families who have to say goodbye to a piece of their heart. 


Ginger said...

You sharing all this will most certainly help others. Others who have been in your shoes and others like me who have not. I would think, or hope, people can pay more attention...like when that conversation was happening, maybe someone more "in tune" with their senses, may have noted something was wrong and just stopped. I don't know. Much love to all the angels and mommies of angels!

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