Today my friend Jackie and I met for lunch at McAlisters with our rainbow boys (who are getting to be fairly high maintenance now that they don't just sleep through our meal like they used to, but they were still both pretty good.)
This older lady came by to bring us our food and touched baby Zackary's head which totally would have earned her a dirty look from me if it had been Lucas but Jackie is not as spazzy about that stuff as me- and I always try to keep Lucas strategically away from strangers as much as possible.Anyway, so she asks if the boys are related (at least she didn't ask if they were twins), how close they are in age, the usual stuff...and then came That Question.
"So are these your firsts?"
I pretty much froze and stared at Jackie who gave a strained "mmhmm" as she met my eyes. The lady babbled on for a second or two longer and then left us.
I gave myself permission to answer however I need to in the moment and my answer is totally different every time. There are times I've said no and made the person keep prying for details, I've said yes (I look at it as although he's not our first child, he's the first that we are getting to raise-which is sorta what the person is really asking I think), there are times I've said " no-our-first-baby-died" in all one breath. No matter how I answer, I usually end up feeling pretty crappy about it.
This was the first time we were asked together. And it would have really freaked the lady out, probably. And I will always hate that question.
It has almost been two years since Olivia came and left. The day after we lost her some idiotic chipper young resident came into my hospital room and apparently missed the heartprints sign taped to the door which is the head's up for them to know that the baby died. I asked her how many days I had to stay and she assumed since I was in a recovery room (for the extremely close monitoring because of the meds I was on and my still wonky labs) that my c-section was that day and gave us a totally wrong answer. Then she asked me brightly, "how is your baby doing?" I answered flatly, "dead". She did the gasp of surprise "oh I'm so sorry blah blah" routine that I've become used to now. Joe, ever the protector, had a (probably not very nice) little talk in the hallway with her and the poor nurse who was standing there shocked. His intention was good and that made for an easy target to vent some anger at the entire crappy situation, but really, that was just the start of That Question. Here we are, nearly two years later, blessed with a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, and STILL that question comes up. I guess it will probably haunt us forever, "That Question". It isn't so much that it makes us think about Olivia, we are always thinking of her. It's that it always smacks you in the face randomly, usually when I'm least expecting it, and there never is a good answer.