Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dead baby math

Okay, I hope people don't hate me for this post.

As much as I love connecting with other babylost moms on the internet, (and don't for one moment take this post to mean I don't want to hear from you), sometimes hearing all those stories of death and sadness...well it just gets me down. I'm also starting to really get upset at myself for a reaction that I have to each and every story...

My reaction after reading about each baby death now seems to include a rating system. The story is either "worse than mine", "better than mine" or "about equal". In math terms this looks like ">", "<" or "=".

I KNOW! I KNOW! No baby death, no matter how early, no matter how many living healthy children you have, is any less sad. All are equally loved and wanted and it's always tragic no matter what. My heart knows this...but my brain still wants to assign <,> or = to each one.

I feel weighed down by the story of the mom who has had multiple miscarriages and one still birth. I mean really? No one deserves that kind of pain. How the hell does she get up every morning? I feel so much sadness and empathy for this family whose heart has been broken over and over...but mostly I'm terrified that my life could become hers. One baby death is enough for a lifetime...I'm literally crushed under the thought of more. The losses this type of woman has faced always rates a > sign in my dead baby math.

More losses + more heartbreak spaced out over many years > than my one loss.

But then I read the story of the mom who has two living healthy children, then has a miscarriage at 6 weeks, then goes on to have another healthy pregnancy 3 months later. And I hate that I do this, but the whole time she's pouring out her pain into cyberspace I'm thinking "I would trade places with you in an instant".

Early loss + living healthy children + healthy subsequent pregnancy < my loss.

Other types of losses that are similar to mine, either gestationally, or because the person took awhile to get pregnant and is afraid another one won't come along, or because it was their first child tend to get an = sign. These are the mommies I generally feel closest to.

So, there you have it. Am I complete and utter bitch? Is my dead baby rating system a sign that I'm really starting to lose it? Do other people do this?

Do other people do this?


  1. you are not a bitch AT ALL, and i feel exactly the same way. i have worried that it would offend people to explain it, but i'm so glad i'm not the only one! with every story i read, i evaluate it to decide whether their story is worse than mine. thank you for validating my thoughts!!

  2. I do the same thing, but I've been so scared to say something about it. You are not a bitch, just speaking the truth.

  3. I do the same thing, and my last blog post is proof of it, too. I don't always do it, and it's not always consciously. It's usually worst for me when someone is really pouring on the pity-party or the complaining. Then it's like oh, your dead baby math is not as bad as mine, I don't want to listen to it.

    I think it is worse if you don't have any living children and I'm not gonna apologize for it. Because when you've lost your only living child, you've not only lost your child, but your definition of yourself as a parent. You've lost the entire lifestyle.

  4. You are not a bitch! In fact, I do the same thing. I thought I was the only one and often feel guilty for feeling this way. I even go as far as to "dissect" their history to see if it is similar to mine. I don't know why, maybe in hopes to avoid some of the things they did so it won't happen to me. I feel ashamed for admitting it, but know that you are not alone. Thanks for being so brave and posting this.

  5. Oh, feel what you feel. You shouldn't have to apologize for that. I appreciate your heartfelt honesty and your ability to express it to everyone who has access to it. Hugs to you, hun. Hang in there.

  6. I linked to your blog and wrote a bit about it at the end of the post I just wrote on my blog. I've been wanting to say something along these lines for so long, but haven't been able to find the words. Thank your for your voice and your honest words.

  7. You are not horrible. Deep down whether people SAY it in some way we all probably do a very similar thing! (((hugs)))

  8. I think we all have been there, you are just brave enough to admit it. I think it is human nature to compare hardships and immediately put yourself below, above or equal to that tragedy. We want to know who we can relate to and know they will understand every part of our grief because it is equal. I always appreciate your honesty.

  9. I feel like you are reading my mind. I've been going through periods lately where I just can't read about another loss. It is just too much, it just makes me so angry and sad and I have to step back for a few hours, days etc.

    I also compare every story to mine. Was the labour as long, was it as scary, was there months of worry or just a day, what does the Mom have to deal with in future pregnancies, does the mom have older children. And I do rate each one as the same as mine, worse than mine, or easier than mine and feel closest to those whose stories are the closest to mine.

    I am so glad you wrote this post. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks this way!

  10. Wow. I do the same thing and never even realized. Were they as far along as I was? Did they stay in the hospital as long as I did? Were they as sick as I was? Did their doctors tell them not to get pregnant again like I was? It never even crossed my mind until I read your post. Ugh. I hate this. It's kind of unsettling. At least I'm not alone.

  11. i do the same thing. we losy cadynce at 20 wks and i've had two 1st tri miscarriages since with both fet's tht we have done. i know any miscarriage is a tragedy, but well i get what you are saying.

    i try not to but it is what it is i suppose at least i know i am not the only one

  12. aww hun i am so sorry that you are feeling like this NO you are NOT A BITCH, i used to be the same when we lost Bryce people would tell me about their stories and i would feel like "how can you compare your self to my loss you had an under 12 week miscarriage" please dont be hard on your self, i used to be the same, sometimes i am still the same, i guess people just grieve in their own way this might be your way of being able to cope/deal with what has happened

  13. No. You aren't a bitch. I think of myself on the "less bad" end of your scale as a rule.

    And then... and then... I think "I got him as far as term and not breathing and even resuscitated and breathing and I have no answers and the very fact that I have other children means that I know EXACTLY, to the minute, to the day, to the sleepless nights and wearied smiles, what I am missing to have left hospital without him. I know exactly what person I lost, what space he has left and worse, my beloved children know it too and it is all my fault that they do" and it is those things which etch out my grief, for my lost child and the grief of my living children, not my lost baby.

    So does that make me a bitch? No. Just in some other desert on planet dead baby I think.

  14. I get it. After my loss, more than one relative or person would console me with the story of how they had a miscarriage early on and then went on to have healthy children. It never made me mad but I wanted the courage to tell them matter of factly that Liam was 23 weeks and we held him and touched him and saw him and he was healthy just born too soon...that just seemed more wonderful but equally more painful than a first trimester loss. I never said it because I didn't want to belittle their pain that they were sharing with me nor did I want to get into a Dead Baby Math conversation right on the spot...No, my pain is way worse than your pain!

    Frustrating that I'm now in a place where I even consider the equation. I'm frustrated for you as well! Thanks for your post!

  15. I admire your courage. I am ashamed to admit that I do exactly the same thing. In fact, I use my rating system to pretty much beat myself up about how badly I'm coping with things. I think about others and feel like hell, if they can get up in the morning, wtf is wrong with me?

    (((HUGS))) to you. Really. And thank you so much for posting this.

  16. I feel the same way. I hate it. I know people who are trying to concieve again after loss but who have healthy children at home, and they tell me that I can't understand and that's it's equally as painful, but....I just can't believe it. I know it's painful, regardless. And maybe you know more what you're missing. And can't allow yourself to grieve as much because you have to be strong for your child. BUT. BUT. You have another child to help you get through it. You know that your body can carry a pregnancy. You know what it feels like to look into the eyes of your son or daughter and see them looking back at you. You know what it's like to give birth. To be eight months pregnant. To feel a living baby moving around in your belly. And I don't know if I'll ever experience any of that.

  17. I also do this and like Kelly often use the system to tell myself to pull it together because others have it worse.

  18. I've felt the same way and have also gone there in my mind, really I think it's normal to do so and good for you for being honest.

  19. I felt that too. I have worked through those feelings, but I felt them too.

  20. I do the same! And I feel the guilt for comparing the losses. Thank you for being the first to stand up and say it!

  21. I totally agree and do the same thing...thank you for admitting it! I feel so jealous of people who can get pregnant quickly or have living children, etc... I think we all do it. Bravo to you for saying it out loud!

  22. Yes. Yes, I hear you. You are in a worse position if it was your first and conception was hard.

    Like I say, I know I'm lucky. I'm not lucky that I had to choose whether to let him die or try to keep him alive and I had to choose death because that was better for the ones at home, that he didn't get to be judged just on what was right for him. I'm not lucky he was my only son. I'm not lucky I had to come home and tell 4 little girls that their brother was dead, 4 little girls who will grow up and have their first child knowing all to well that babies die.. I'm not lucky that I get no space or peace to grieve. I'm not lucky that I tried for a year to get pregnant with him, that I can't get pregnant now or that I will never know if my active choice to vbac him not have a c/s that killed him. I'm not lucky that no medic takes it seriously that I want a 6th child to replace a dead 5th and so will not help me to conceive and that everyone thinks I'm mad to think of it. I'm not lucky that my husband was done and yet now is grieving his son when he never would have missed not having him.

    But yes, I'm lucky. Funny old thing, being lucky.

    What I do know is I'm not as damn lucky as the people who have 5 children and walk out of the maternity unit with all of them. And some of them, frankly, don't deserve their 5. I'm not as lucky as people who have all their children alive and yet beat them, starve them, ignore them or let them be born addicted to drugs.

    I'm not that lucky.

  23. Yep, I get it, and have done it too. At the beginning I was also a "dead baby blog snob" and would search out and read only blogs that had similar stories to my own. I think it's all everyone above has mentioned doing it too!

  24. Yes, I do the same thing. I think its just human nature. But I definitely think that way. I think of other things too, like one of my closest girlfriends who lost her baby girl 2 days after she was born- I'm like SO MUCH WORSE than mine. And the opposite too. All of it. I think its normal.

  25. I'm very aware of the fact that a lot of people do this. I probably do it myself, much as I don't like to admit to it.

    Knowing that, generally, I will be on the '<' side of nearly every DBM equation has made me feel sheepish for feeling as sad and heartbroken about the loss of my daughter as I do. I didn't feel entitled to have a blog for a while as I was worried that people would resent me for keeping the child that clung on. A lot of people may wonder what I have to grouse about but the fact that my first child died still hurts, regardless of the circumstances surrounding her death.

    But, as with most things in life, there will always be someone who is worse off and someone else who is better off. No one person can lay claim to the worst story ever. Hell, we're all blogging on our computers with a roof over our heads and food in our fridges.

    No matter what the circumstances, it still hurts. I'm sure I would have been devastated by my first tri miscarriage if it hadn't happened after my second tri miscarriage weirdly combined with a neonatal death experience. But I wouldn't like to belittle the pain of anyone going through that first tri experience. Pain is pain is pain, sad is sad is sad, we all lose in the end and I don't think grief is something quantifiable? It all hurts and I wish that nobody had to get involved in these attempts to figure out who hurts the most. Although as we are only human, myself very much included, I suppose it is inevitable that we will. x

  26. I absolutely agree. Great, honest post. I'm new to your blog and look forward to reading along.
    I am so very sorry about Aidan.

  27. Just catching up with some blogs I follow (I'm SO behind.....) and came across yours.

    First, so, so, so sorry for your loss.

    Second, I so hear you on this. I don't really voice it, don't really even want to 'claim' those thoughts...but can't help it. I think, "Seriously????? 10+ years of TTC, countless procedures and surgeries, a miracle IVF success, a 'normal' pregnancy, nearly 41 weeks and probably could have gone longer if I could stand it any more, and then DEATH from something so rare that you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning TWICE than to have this happen???????"


    But I just try and remember that it IS the worst thing to me. And your loss IS the worst thing to happen to you. And any mother's loss of their child, at any age of gestation IS the worst thing to happen and simply because we are human, there is no greater loss than that of our own. Doesn't mean we can't have sympathy and now empathy...just that yes, to us individually, nothing could even come close to comparing.

    Very much appreciate your're not alone.