Monday, June 27, 2011

I let the cat out of the bag today...

I'm one of the first people to arrive at the office in the morning, and today, I got talking with two other early risers, before everyone else started arriving. One is about my age, in her late 40s or early 50s; the other, a young woman about 25.

The older woman was telling us about her daughter (her only child)'s wedding last year. "We're just waiting for the grandbabies now," she said with a smile. She went on to say that her daughter had, in fact, had a miscarriage in January at four months... "but you know, these things are so common, once you have one, everyone starts telling you that they had one too."

And that's when I opened my mouth. I said yes, I'd had a stillbirth, & my heart always goes out to anyone who's had a loss, no matter what stage of pregnancy.

I could tell they were both shocked, especially the younger employee (who is not only young but single & idealistic). "Oh, that must have been hard!" the older woman said. I added that I had been six months pregnant, & that we had been involved in volunteer work for a pregnancy loss support group until just recently. I didn't mention anything about infertility, although it's obvious that I don't have any (other) children. The older woman continued talking about her daughter's miscarriage, and the converation eventually moved on to another subject.

I guess it just seemed like a natural segue to talk about my own experience. I would have felt funny if I hadn't. It's not exactly a secret, & to NOT say anything at that point would have felt like it was.

But it's just not something that I bring up offhand in polite conversation, if you know what I mean. If people ask me whether I have children, I generally just say "no" & leave it at that. I'm old enough now that I don't get pestered with a lot of questions about "why" or "when," & with most people, I don't feel that any explanation is really necessary.

When people do talk about infertility or pregnancy loss at work, I have mentioned my own experiences in the past -- but of course, they don't get talked about very often, particularly in an office where so many of the current employees still aren't even married yet. Everyone at work knew about it when it happened, obviously, but that was 13 years ago now, and there are maybe 10 employees, max, out of a total department of about 50 people, who were around then & would remember what happened (and none of them who in my particular area anymore).

So I suppose there will be some gossip going on behind my back over the next little while, especially among the younger girls, who like to go for lunch & coffee together. Oh well. :p


  1. Well, there might be gossip. And there might not be. You never know. People are so wrapped up in their own lives.

    I know exactly what you mean when you say that it seems wrong not to mention our losses, and that it seems a natural segue in conversation. I find that now too - though once it was too painful to mention.

  2. I'm in the closet at work and fully intend to stay there forever.
    I feel it's too personal to share with colleagues, too painful as well. And it makes people feel awkward.

    True, I'm not much of an advocate that way, but so be it.

    I admire your courage, I have to say.

  3. I'm really glad you spoke up. It *is* a personal subject for work, but if we're going to make it OK for women to talk about their experiences, then we need to start somewhere. *hug*

  4. In the end, you let it be known that you truly heard and understood because you had been there. That's something to be proud of. I doubt people will want to "gossip" about that. And it's certainly nothing to keep a deep, dark secret.

  5. I think it's a great thing that you spoke up. The way I look at it, gossip or not, these younger folk need to know that something like this could happen to them, too. So I'm glad you spoke up. HUGS

  6. I think it's a great thing you spoke up and let the proverbial cat out of the bag. Regardless of it being called "gossip" I think it's a topic that needs to be brought up (at the appropriate time anyway), so that others -- especially those "young folk" who think they're invincible -- know that something like stillbirth and infertility are real and affect real women. HUGS for speaking up!

  7. I think it's great that you opened up a bit about Katie. I have a hard time opening up about painful things, especially infertility and my divorce. Now the people you work with are aware that they know someone who's lost a child. Hopefully their hearts will be opened more, too.

  8. Having never been pregnant, I'm not quite in the same boat, but I'm in a new position at work and have been debating with myself if I'm going to let the cat out of the bag or not (2 failed IVFs, contemplating no children). I was asked the first day if I had children and I simply said no. I have no idea what I'll say if I'm asked again.