I went to Lowe’s to pick up a small shrub to place in front of the phone box that will be near Ruby’s garden today. I searched through the “left-over’s” since it is no longer really planting season and couldn’t find much of anything that I liked. I remembered the night before at my mother-in-law’s house that she had picked up some shrubs at the same place the day before and I liked one of her shrubs and thought it would be perfect for the location.

It was a tiny shrub called a Dwarf Alpine Spruce. I honestly HATE pine trees of any sort (other than their smell) but this was a cute little Christmas tree and I began to imagine decorating it in her garden every year. My older son Joey walked alongside me with Timmy in the Boba attached to my back. We found the small shrubs inside the store and I asked Joey if he felt it was an appropriate choice.

He loved the little tree so I asked him to sift through the 25 or so that were there and pick one. After a few moments Joey emerged with the perfect little tree. It is so darling and looks like a baby Christmas tree. I love it and I loved it more because Joey picked it out.

We went to the check-out line. Joey placed the tree on the counter and the woman smiled and asked what the tree was for. Joey responded, “The tree is for my sister’s garden.” That’s when it happened. The dreaded pit in my stomach. It appeared out of nowhere but why?

It’s been four years since her loss and Joey talks about her to everyone so this shouldn’t have caught me off guard but it did. It felt like I was taken back in time to when it had only been a month or so after her loss and we were in the check-out line at Sprouts. The lady there asked if Joey was my only child. When I responded that he was, she followed up with “that’s good, it’s so much harder when you have more.”

That’s when Joey said, “Well, actually, I have a baby sister but she died,” and that’s when my heart sank and I just wanted to run out of the store and vomit. He shared her easily. I still wasn’t ready. That’s when I found myself apologizing because the clerk was shocked and freaking out.

So here we were again, four years later, in a checkout line with a woman who had just been told the tree was bought was for a garden. So far, things were okay right? Death hadn’t been mentioned but no sooner than I felt the pit in my stomach did Joey continue on with, “we had a miscarriage and my sister died.”

I took a deep breath and waited for the shock from the clerk. But it didn’t come. All she said was, “That’s so nice.” Then she asked about the little boy on my back and talked with Joey about his brother. Was she comfortable with the statement that his sister died or was she trying to distract him by asking about his brother?

As we walked out of the store, Joey returned to a conversation we were having the night before about customer service. He felt this woman had great customer service so he talked a little about what made it so wonderful. Then he said, “It still bothers me that when I was in the 3rd grade that my teacher didn’t believe my sister was real.”

His class was asked to group themselves by number of siblings. Instead of staying in the “only-child” group, Joey put himself in the group with one sibling each. His teacher told him to get out of the group because he was an “only-child.” Joey adamantly refused to move stating he was not an only child because he had a sister that died. His teacher argued with him that we had only had a miscarriage and his sister wasn’t real.

This really hurt Joey. In addition, he was forced to move out of the group that identified with having one sibling to the “only-child” group. Joey was angry that his teacher disregarded his sister’s life so easily when she was very real to him. As we packed up and left Lowe’s he continued to talk about how hurtful that situation was.

It’s been a few hours since this happened and I am still unsure of why I had such a response. So I posted the story here. Do any of you still have such a response when your miscarriage is mentioned in public?

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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