Who controls the present, dishonours the past

Today I heard that Lily Allen the singer is pregnant again (having miscarried in 2008, poor woman). My first reaction to this news was unmitigated bonhomie. Excellent. Good for her. Best wishes and hurrahs. And I went placidly on my way to work, where it befell my lot to peruse The Guardian website.

Now, the Guardian is normally a fairly respectable left-wingish newspaper, and I read it all the time, as it suits my political convictions and arty-farty inclinations. (The Comment and Culture sections are gems, by the way. Absolute gems). However, this is how they decided to headline the news of the pop singer’s imminent poppet: ‘Lily Allen pregnant with first child‘.

First child.

OK, so it’s the first child with her current partner. And maybe she herself prefers to think of this as her first child. The article doesn’t clarify.

But what does that make the previous pregnancy? What was she pregnant with that time then? Was she not delightedly expecting her first child for all those weeks right up until the tragic end?

And if I ever get pregnant again, do you think I’m going to be in the least bit happy referring to the putative indweller as my first? Even if (oh please please please) it gets to be a take-home baby?

Hell no. Not my first. My sixth. And I hope to the God I really don’t believe in that I’ll have the brass neck and steel balls to refer to it as my sixth when asked. Why yes, it will be far more information than anyone bargained for. But people shouldn’t ask that kind of question if they don’t want difficult answers. Fuck ’em if it makes them uncomfortable. Just think how uncomfortable living through it made me.

They may have never even really been alive in any meaningful sense, but I’ll be damned if I let the world brush my offspring under the carpet like that.


19 responses to “Who controls the present, dishonours the past

  • womb for improvement

    Ah. Now. I almost blogged about Lily Allen today but stopped myself because I sounded too bitter. ‘Twas nowt to do with 1st vs 2nd pregnancy. But, just she has been all over the press since about Christmas banging on about wanting to get pregnant. And lo. It happened. Just like that.

    I would never wish infertility on anyone. But it is a bit galling how easy some people find it. See? See why I didn’t blog about it myself, how vile do I sound?

    • May

      Hugs. Because, well. Hugs. (I spare Lily Allen the growling because she lost one, but even I had a ‘but I lost FIVE why isn’t it my turn wail wail’ moment. Which I didn’t blog about. *cough*).

  • womb for improvement

    Oh, but less about me. Yes, you will not and should not forget.


  • arminta

    I also have issue with the whole first vs seventh argument. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant, after six miscarriages. People ask me all the time if this is my first baby. I usually just smile and say “first one who’s made it this far.” Then, if they decide to ask, I will tell them that he’s my seventh and the other six died at various points before being born. But I feel this is honest and doesn’t negate the first six without being too “in your face” about the losses.

    G calls this baby our first when speaking to anyone outside of our immediate family. He just doesn’t feel comfortable revealing that much and honestly he wasn’t as attached to the others.

  • a

    Personally, I prefer* not to think of those pregnancies as lost children, because it depresses me. Then I get all emotional, and nobody wants that, let me assure you. I am an excellent compartmentalizer and represser, though. One of these days, there will be a great explosion. You might be able to see it from your house.

    *Note: I do not recommend this strategy for other people.

  • thalia

    Yes. What A said. I don’t think of my two miscarriages as lost children, although I do think about and remember the due date of the first one often. I do honour the pregnancies though. When I was pregnant people asked me if it was my second pregnancy when I was pregnant and out with Pob, I’d say no, my fourth pregnancy, my second child. They always looked a bit sheepish, but no one ever objected.

    But just becuase that’s how I’ve dealt with it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel your own way. And that newspaper article heading was a just cause for anger.

  • Heather

    Like you said – if they ask…People ask all kinds of crazy things that are none of their business. If they ask, tell.

  • The cheerleader

    Good for you – I have chickened out and refer to current womb dweller as ‘first’ when asked by kind old ladies because I get far too emotional if I tell the truth. But I hope I won’t once baby is (fingers crossed) safe in my arms.

    It’s a tricky one. When you do tell the truth it is amazing how many other miscarriages come out of the closet to sympathise.

  • Teuchter

    “Lily Allen pregnant with first child”

    I thought exactly the same as you when I heard this yesterday – and wondered how she felt about that particular headline.

    On a related topic, I heard this morning that some work done at Aberdeen Univ has just been published – and it appears that the old guidelines, about how long one should wait after miscarriage before trying again, need to be reviewed.


    • May

      The weird thing is, no medical professional EVER told me to wait 6 months. They all told me each time to let one cycle go past and THEN start again. Even after the D&C/infection one. Admittedly, all my losses were really early. Perhaps it’s more of an issue if the uterus has taken more of a battering. Hmmm.

    • Hairy Farmer Family

      I never heard of the 6 months thing, either.

      • korechronicles

        The six month wait was standard operating procedure back in the day. But I had thought it had gone way of the dinosaur. Very surprised that WHO still maintain it as a position.

        • Solnushka

          The nurse for my first miscarriage told me that waiting six months before trying might be necessary depending on why I had miscarried and I’m pretty sure she said wait a month. The doctor said go for it immediately and the nurse at the same clinic the second time said go for it immediately too. I suppose it depends on who keeps up to date on a journal rather than webite readibg level.

  • Betty M

    The study referred to all over the news is at http://bit.ly/duNhII. Its all very well saying its good not to wait post m/c doesn’t really help those of us who have infertility added into the mix.

    I saw that article and got cross too although to be fair to Lily the direct quotes from her specify that it is the first for her and the current bf which I read as her acknowledging that the first was still the first although maybe that is me projecting.

    If asked now how many kids I have I say 3. When pregnant though I always referred to the others so the last pregnancy was my 6th if anyone asked. Like Thalia and a I don’t see the lost 3 as children even though I know when they were due and when they were lost and mentally mark those dates.

  • May

    @ a, Thalia and Betty – If I actually had a living child, I’d probably be a lot less defensive about the miscarried embryos (I am aware I’m very defensive about the whole subject). I suspect, I hope, infact, that when (pleasepleaseplease) I am overwhelmed by the REALNESS of having a take-home human to raise, it will feel less appropriate? Less anyone-else’s-business? Too personal? Too not like having a living child? to keep mentioning them. But, at the moment, they’re all I’ve got. Or, more to the point, not got.

    • Hairy Farmer Family

      Understand completely, and have behaved exactly as you describe here. And am fervently PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE-ING right alongside you.

      It depends on how badly I think the ask-ee deserves a poke in the mental eye, as to how I phrase the pregnancies vs living children thing. Occasionally I am brutal and embarrass people because I am having a stonking bad day and they look like they need a wallop of reality and I don’t like their face. I is mean! Usually, however, I am… a little kinder to them.

  • korechronicles

    Not so much defensive, more like protective I would say. Also pleasepleasepleas-ing right along with you and HFF.

  • Solnushka

    That is a god awful headline though. Was quite pleased at doctors not just to be asked about children but pregnancies, although they of course are really only interested medically.

  • Solnushka

    Mind you I think when I was showing enough to ask, I answered the question as though it was ‘Do you have any children?’ I don’t think I actually consciously made that decision, but that’s what I did. But then I quite like not telling random strangers on the street who ask too personal questions things. They are lucky I didn’t claim to have ten kids already just for the heck of it.

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