Thursday, July 7, 2011

Labels II - An Achievement

I've noticed labels seem to be a theme in lots of blogs.  Stillbirth blogs, NICU blogs, autism blogs.... This concept just seems to plague people across the spectrum of existence.

While I still get bothered by labels, I believe I took a big step the other day.  Ever since Aurelia died, I haven't liked the phrase we lost her.  As in, we lost her to a cord accident at 24 weeks.  We NEVER lost her.  We knew exactly where she was.  When we ultrasounded Chiron, she was there.  When he was born, she was removed first.  I can't really say she was born first since born implies life (see, the dang labels), and I still haven't seen any official sheet of paper showing it, but she was removed from my body at 08:15 and he was at 08:16.

Losing her somehow makes it sound to me like it was an act of negligence.  Like we didn't care enough to keep track of her.  Like I didn't love her enough to keep sending her oxygen through her cord.  Like there is action I could have taken that would have kept her alive.  Similar to how hostile interuterine environment bothered me because hostile sounds like it is the product of intent.

Despite this, I've kept using the phrase.  It seems to roll over people well and not upset them.  Losing her somehow makes her less real.  Real things die.

At Trajan's first play therapy session, I departed from this practice.  I said, "his sister died due to a cord accident at 24 weeks."  I want to add in likely cord accident, but I think it's cleaner this way.

I've tried it a couple of times now and I would say that saying your child died is a little harder on others than saying you lost them, but I just don't think it's about them, so I'm going to stick wtih it.

Next step would be for me to use her name.  I still have trouble doing that.  As a final funny thought, my main problem with the name Aurelia was I wasn't sure about the pronunciation.  Turns out that was a total non-issue. ..  So, for practice: Aurelia died in utero at 24 weeks gestation.  I think I've got this! :-)


  1. I have this conversation in my head many times a day. Just to prepare myself for when it does come up. It rarely does.

    Xander died at 16 weeks which in medical terms is a late miscarriage. I refuse to call it that. I do, however, say (in my head) that we lost our son. He died before he was born and since it was my body that failed him, I feel like he was lost. I make a point to include "son" in the statement to prove that his death wasn't an early miscarriage. He was fully formed, at one point alive and I delivered him. We may not have a birth or death certificate for him, but he was real.

    From day one we have used his name as much as possible. Perhaps it makes some people uncomfortable, but it brings me so much comfort and peace and validation that he existed. It is very important to us that his brother grows up knowing that he has a brother and his name is Xander. I hope saying Aurelia's name becomes easier for you and that it brings you peace.

    I'm babbling now. Thank you for this thought provoking post. It may just change my perspective on how to respond next time.

  2. Even though the term 'lost' is completely inaccurate and I don't like the connotations of negligence that you mention, I do find myself using it. I find that the phrases 'she died' or 'I'm sorry that your baby/mother/uncle died' just don't spring to my lips. They always sound a little blunt, almost confrontational to me and I always wuss out. As you say, other people do seem to prefer lost or passed away. So much less awful than died. Which isn't actually awful. Merely the truth.

    Hostile is a horrible term. I particularly hate 'incompetent cervix', which implies that I might have been simply useless.

    I hope you find a way to talk about Aurelia and her death that you are contented with. It is tricky but, once you've got a prepared form, it seems to be slightly easier to say? If that makes any sense?

    Strangely I also don't generally name my daughter when I talk about her. If you don't mind my asking did you decide on a pronunciation for Aurelia's name? I have just seen your pronunciation box on the side bar and I was right about Chiron but wrong about Trajan.

  3. Incompetent cervix has always bothered me from the first time I heard it after a cousin was born at 24 weeks!

    Wow, just realized I didn't even think about putting her in there when I wrote the pronounciations. I definitely should. The problem is while I know how it sounds in my head, I'm having trouble converting that into readable sounds. A-rail-ya or Or-ale-ya I think might cover it. I had a list of about a dozen pronunciations at one point when we were considering the name..

    Being in Texas, in my head it's similar to this, but with more of a drawl at the front that makes it more of an Or than an A:

  4. Oops.. I'm slow.. there are multiple pronunciations on that page.

    The English one is dead on!

  5. Thank you for the link. In my mind, her name was more Or-real-yah (with a British accent as that is the only one I can manage) So I wasn't too far away but still not quite right. It's a beautiful name, I don't think that I have ever come across another Aurelia.

    That website is fantastic too.