The replacement child

I know I have talked in the past about things you should and shouldn’t say to a grieving mother. I’m never really upset or mad when someone says something, as I understand that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to talk to someone who has lost a child. I know that those who have said something I didn’t necessarily like were only saying these things with the best of intentions. However, many grieving parents have told me there will come a day when someone says something to me that will set me off. That even though they may not know the right words, I will feel that any normal human being would know better than to say what he or she did. They told me examples of things said to them such as, “You should be over this by now” or “God chose your baby because you are strong enough to handle it.” Granted both of those things would anger me, but nothing hurt me more than an innocent older lady I met at a restaurant. She saw my belly and asked the questions everyone does. “Is this your first child? Do you know what you are having?”

This line of questioning always leads to some form of question that forces me to tell them that my son passed away. In this case it was, “Where is your son now?” Answering that question rarely upsets me. I usually know it’s coming and am more concerned about the person asking me. The look of embarrassment or shame they feel when I explain that my first son died is terrible. They usually feel horrible that they even asked, but I know that they had no way of knowing. I always try to let them down easy and smile the best I can so they don’t beat themselves up over it. This was not the case with this lady. She was the first one to shake me to my core. To make me actually gasp out loud as I looked at her with complete shock. She said, and I quote, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. So you are pregnant now with your replacement child?” I just looked at her with huge eyes, mouth wide open. I couldn’t even bring myself to answer her. To her, my pause must have meant to continue to put her foot in her mouth and get in as many idiotic statements she could before some timer I wasn’t aware of went off. She then said, “l had a friend who had a replacement child. He was treated very unfairly. It always made me sad for him. It’s not his fault he is the replacement child.”

I kept staring at her, thinking to myself if you say “the replacement child” one more time, I’m going to lose my shit. After she was done, I told her that I don’t see this baby as a replacement. It’s all I could muster. She said, “It’s not how you see it honey, that’s what he is.” I thought to myself that she was saying it in a way you or I would refer to a middle or first child. It’s just where he falls in the order of things. She sat there smiling as she talked about my replacement child and the story of her friend’s replacement child. No care in the world. As she spoke, I pictured myself jumping across the aisle to her table and punching her in the face. My friend Shawn says that I have a gift she just doesn’t possess, and that is patience with stupidity. I looked at the lady, smiled and said, “I think calling their baby a replacement child is already setting them up for failure. Maybe that’s why your friend struggles with her child.” She looked at me, confused and bewildered.

As she walked out, I sat there with my thoughts. I wanted to cry. It felt like someone just casually insulted my unborn son. Is that really what people view him as? Are there more people in the world with this thought process? A replacement child this little boy will never and could never be. There is only one Nash. Just like when I meet this little boy there will only be one him, special in his own ways. I like to think of this little boy as something extra special. He paints rainbows in the sky with his older brother. He was conceived in the middle of deep heartache and emptiness, and is now helping heal his parents from the loss of his brother. One day, I know I will look at him and think that I could not imagine life without him. Then I think he would not be here if Nash hadn’t died. What does that mean? A replacement? No, I don’t think so. That makes him our calm after the storm, our miracle during crisis, a ray of light in the darkness. Not bad for someone I haven’t even met yet.



12 thoughts on “The replacement child

  1. All I know is that both of your children are beyond blessed to have you as a mother! Your strength, faith, & honesty move me every time I read your posts! You make me want to be a better mother! God Bless you all!


  2. Your friend is right, you do have a gift in patience. And you are right, this little boy is not a replacement….. he is an addition! Some of the best of things come from the worst of times and this little bundle is just an example of that!
    Deep breathes Shelly, I don’t know you and I don’t have experience so I can’t really speak about how “YOU” are doing… but I can tell you that you have helped me be thankful for every minute I have with my children and have given me insight to a world I thankfully never knew and how to be there for my cousin who recently miscarried… the things to say and not to say!
    I appreciate your blog and your sharing of Nash, EVERYTIME I read another entry I can’t wait to scroll down to the attached picture of that SMILE!
    So thank you for sharing, for putting up with the stupid and letting us learn from your experience and most of all for sharing that smile!


  3. love you!!!! And Shawn is right. You possess things we don’t have. Patience!!!! I have to say I would’ve been pregnant in jail with my “big ol belly” I think I would’ve choked the life out of this lady just saying. I’m not proud of that but it would’ve happened. You are such a beautiful person inside and out. You clearly have more strength in your big toe than most have in their whole body. Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxoxo all our love we are sending to you and Todd.
    Love ,
    The pines


  4. I will say I have never thought to call the second child after a loss of a first, a replacement. Your children are lucky to have such a strong mommy, Nash included. I’ve met you once around town, you’re such a inspirational example of how people should bešŸ™ God Bless you and your new bundle of joy !!!


  5. Words cannot express how angry I am and I am totally outside the situation. Your friend IS very right. You have an amazing gift in patience. You would think people’s stupidity would stop surprising me, but I’m shocked. It is people like that lady that make children feel crushed under the weight of expectations that should have never been set upon them. I’m so sorry that you had to be subject to that woman’s mouth.


  6. I’m very sorry that someone spoke those words …but I’m also very thankful that you took the time and had the courage and ability after your heart was breaking to explain to her that it was not true at all .. Knowone can replace anyone.. but most importantly I wanted to tell you …you can’t replace Nash because Nash still exist he’s not gone forever…he is in heaven he’s just in a different place but he’s still here and will always be here and he’s always be special he’ll always be your first born son and it doesn’t matter the order in which your children are born…first born second born third born their all your children that you love and God made them special individuals in their own special way…so I’m looking forward to finding out what your Nash’s baby brothers name will be ….and continue to look forward to you and Todd sharing Pictures of your children…God’s greatest richest blessings on you bothšŸ‘§šŸ‘ØšŸ‘¬


  7. I read the article in the Detroit News this morning and then came to your blog. I do have to say that I’ve heard some people say the most insensitive idiotic comments in my time, but I am actually dumbstruck to hear that woman call your unborn angel a replacement. Surely this woman must not be all there in her mind. People like that need to be glossed over – don’t waste any time on pondering why she said the things she did. My heart goes out to you and your family and I will keep all of you in my prayers.


  8. I am so sorry people are so stupid! I have never met you Shelly but I know, only by reading your blogs, that you & Todd will always be amazing parents to Nash and all of Nash’s siblings!! BTW, You look adorable!!


  9. Shelly you are the epitome of love and strength. All of your posts touch my heart and make me hold my own children a little tighter everyday. You will continue to teach the world about the ups and downs of your experience and make us all better people by simply reading and learning from each and every post. You will be an amazing parent(s) to your “rainbow” son and I can’t wait to continue to read about your adventures through the future! Hugs, prayers and love to you and your family!


  10. Of all your beautiful, heart wrenching posts Shelly, this one made me cry the most. Seriously, people can say the most hurtful things. As always, I am so proud of you for being so transparent and as always your end response is brilliant. Truly you are a very wise and remarkable soul. Todd too, to have chosen you! Love you so much.


  11. I don’t know how you sat there n listened to that woman, your foot belongs in her mouth, n that’s to put it nicely. Your new baby will be beautiful n just what you say, no replacement! That was just awful of her to even think she had the right to say that all outloud. Some people, may God Bless you, now n all the days that follow.


  12. How thoughtless of her to speak of your babies that way. Just because she sees the world that way does not mean everyone does or should. I can not fathom her thought process on this, are parents who have lost one child not allowed to be blessed with any other children without her deeming them “replacements”. What about parents who have two earthly children, does she think the second child in that scenario is a replacement. This baby boy is not Nash’ replacement, he is Nash’ little brother, he is an addition to your already lovely family. How sad for her that she has such a grim out look on life. And lucky for her that you have patience for such utter stupidity as your friend pointed out!


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