“Does she have any sisters or brothers?”
We took E to a birthday party today. I should have been 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. It was the first time someone has asked me, since A died: is E your only child?
I thought it would be easier to answer. I have read about the conflict other mothers of dead babies feel when asked, do you have any children? Or, how many children do you have? I thought I’d be able to answer by judging what was required of me, by what kind of answer was expected. Did the person asking really want to know? And that was what I did. When I was asked, did E have any brothers or sisters, I said no.
I said no.
And then my mind flooded with images: of her red, red lips; of her delicate wrist; of her stubby big toe, so like E’s; of the blood that trickled out of her perfect little nose. I remembered the weight of her in my arms, the cool, softness of her skin on my lips, the wrenching pain of birthing her and the far more wrenching pain of leaving her alone.
But I couldn’t take it back. I couldn’t say, yes, E has a sister. Because how do you say it? There is a Dora cake, there are balloons and a piñata and fifteen squealing kids and there is my dead baby, and one of these things just doesn’t belong.