The Wrong Thing Is Better Than Nothing At All

The last time I had a miscarriage, the phone rang off the hook.  Everyone called to check on me, to give me condolences, and to share optimism that next time would turn out better.

This time the house has been eerily silent.  The only calls have been from one of my aunts, and Andi.

Andi admitted that she was so afraid of calling at the wrong time.  And that she didn’t want to make the call because she didn’t really know what to say.

When you have a first miscarriage, everyone can call and reassure you that it was a fluke, that you’ll have a baby for sure next time.  When you have the second one, maybe it’s not a fluke.  People don’t know how to comfort you.  And it appears that they’re just choosing to not say anything, for fear of saying the wrong thing.

And trust me, when you have a hard time getting AND staying pregnant, there is ALWAYS someone who’s going to say the wrong thing.  I’ve spent my fair share of time getting annoyed at the things people come up with to say to me.  But I realized something this weekend: Even saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all.

I think this relates to deployment too.  We all roll our eyes at some of the things civilians say to us.  I wrote a post about these asinine comments just a week ago.  But I’m also reminded today of another experience my husband and I had.  Back when he got home from his first deployment, we went on a cruise.  We cringed, expecting that everyone we talked to would bug us with questions about Iraq.  We thought we’d be repeating the same stuff over and over the entire cruise.  So when we sat down with our assigned tablemates for the first time, we were surprised when the conversation went like this:

Tablemate: So, what do you do?
Husband: I’m in the Army.  We’re on vacation because I just got home from Iraq.
Tablemate: Ah, I see.  (Turning to next tablemate)  And what do you do?  You’re a pharmacy rep?  How interesting…tell me more.

And that was that.  We were stunned that no one had a single question at all for my husband.  Nothing about "What was it like?", "How long were you there?", not even the annoying "Did you kill anyone?" or "Do you think we should’ve gone to war?"  Nothing. 

We expected to be annoyed by too many questions; instead we were annoyed by the lack of questions.  Poor civilians, they just can’t win.

I think I realized this morning that, even though many of the things civilians ask us seem stupid and uninformed, at least their asking shows that they care.  I’m going to try to cut them some slack next time and remember that they’re only doing the best they know how to do to show their concern.

I also realized, with the miscarriage, that I can either sit here and be a martyr, pouting that no one has called me, or I can pick up the danged phone myself and call a friend and say, "I need to talk; do you have time to listen?"  And that’s a whole nother lesson in itself.  If you need help, it’s OK to ask instead of sitting around waiting for help to come to you.  I’m sure that many of my friends are more than willing to help me through this; they’re just nervous to make the first move.  And afraid of saying the wrong thing.

I’m gonna cut them some slack too.

About Sarah

Sarah has been married to her soldier for a bit more than 10 years. In the past decade, they've been at six different duty stations in four different branches of the Army. They've also endured three deployments, six miscarriages, and a failed IVF. Sarah's blogging focus has shifted some in the past five years, from common military issues to something more personal: the difficult intersection between the military and infertility. It's hard for some couples to start a family; it's even harder when one person spends a lot of time on the other side of the globe. But Sarah was lucky enough to declare Mission Accomplished when their daughter was born 10 days after her husband's return from Afghanistan. And she tries to remind herself how irreplaceable and cherished that daughter is now that she's entered the terrible two's. In her free time, Sarah is a pioneer housewife: knitting, crocheting, and cooking ... and sometimes even firing a weapon.