Today Cate and I went to our first Early Childhood Family Education class.
Class was similar to the zoo post, with more Anna in it. Translation: I cried again. If I’d been true to myself I would’ve left the room and really let ‘er go, but that sort of thing doesn’t bode well for creating relationships with new people. First impressions and all. I jeopardized myself enough as it was. The opening song was one I know well, slightly curtailed for infants. The one where you go around the room and name each child “...Cate is here today, Cate is here today, yaaaaaaaay, Cate!” I was a tumult of emotions. All the zoo stuff about belonging, finally qualifying for a class like this, so grateful for Cate herself, knowing how lucky I was, etc. But also the stark reality of the classes not taken the last 2 1/2 years. That Anna was not here today, she was never here any day. She never had her name spoken aloud in a circle that included her, her very existence celebrated in a silly but important little ditty. Never will. Struck again by how much I love her name. Again by the great, vast enormity of the hole she left. Wondering who she’d be, who she would have been in such a class. And how much vitality and presence and Life there is in just a tiny human being! I mean, they take up space in the Universe. And her space is so very small. So very, very quiet.
I got through the song without too much drama, though my slightly shaky voice and teary eyes were certainly noted by some, and the teacher shot me some ‘checking in on that one’ looks afterwards. My downfall came during introductions. Name, child’s name, any other children, where you live, where you grew up. Well duh, the third one pretty much guaranteed me a goner. I was maybe the 5th one to go and tears were falling before I even opened my mouth. This morning at 5 AM I thought about this moment, knowing there was likely to be one and trying to figure out how much to say, weighing the benefits of letting people know that much at first blush versus the risk of being labeled “Damaged/A drama queen/Too much baggage to handle”. Turns out the format helped out with that (limiting history to bare skeletal facts), but I still gushed out a little background and disclaimer - “I totally gonna cry. I’m Julie, this is Cate, I DO have another child, she died at birth. [collective gasps] Her name is Anna, she was born 2 years ago. You’re going to see me cry a lot, probably. It comes unexpectedly. [two beats of silence]”, turning to the girl behind me who grew up in near me, trying to disarm the shock and discomfort and make like normal people making a normal superficial connection.
The teacher handled it well, thanking me for sharing and ensuring she (and therefore everyone else) had Anna’s name right, acknowledging that this information was an important part of me.
The women next to me seemed to be a little skittish after the fact, but settled down when I didn’t talk about it any more nor cry further. I think I scared some of them away (though I expect most will come around if The Topic doesn’t keep surfacing) and... no one mentioned it or asked about Anna for the duration of the class. I’d been warned that ECFE with “normal” women could be challenging for that reason. That they probably hadn’t experienced anything close and wouldn’t know what to do with it (true enough), that complaints of motherhood from women who hadn’t struggled to get pregnant or hadn’t had any traumas could be infuriating to listen to (not today, at least).
Anyway, I think there are a couple of women I might be able to create an ongoing relationship with. We’ll see. But that's the reason I signed up, and I’m quite pleased with the class in that aspect. A relief, since the class is out of my comfort zone. I quite prefer to hermit it up in my house. Not proud of it, nor do I think it’s good for me, but it is what it is. Going out on the limb paid off in my opinion, which is g-r-e-a-t. Now I just have to keep the Anna stuff in check so as not to make myself a pariah.