Last night, we had a little CPR class at our house.  It was Ted, my mom, my dad, my step-sister Lyndsey, my brother Paul and I.  We knew it was likely to bring up some bad memories and other feelings but I think we can probably all agree that we are glad we did it.

The teacher was really good and so nice.  It's funny to me how even the nicest, most well- meaning people really don't think before they speak.  Or maybe its just that they figure we have learned to turn off our feelings.  There were some weird things that triggered all of us.  I was the cold b*tch in the room who kept shutting him up.  I didn't mean to hurt him, I just wanted to save us from being hurt BY him.  We all agreed that he took it pretty well.  For instance, he was talking about drownings and he went on and on about how babies love water and then moved into how babies LOVE bath time and how they just can't get enough of their baths and it is such a special time for parents and on and on and on....It is obviously a speech he gives to drive home the point that children can get too comfortable in water.  We got it.  I stopped him and said, "We know that babies love baths.  Our baby loved his bath.  It was one of our most special times with him.  You don't need to tell us how babies love baths.  Let's move on."  I am an a-hole.  Actually, I got really teared up when I shut him up.  He said not to worry if we need to get emotional, if we need to cry we should just "let it rip".  That really annoyed Ted, who then said, "What do you MEAN 'let it rip?'".   It bugged him that anyone would give us permission to be sad in a house of eleven months of sadness.  We are a tough crowd over here.)  Another time, he was talking about ....who knows what...but he said, "We have a new grandchild.  Our FIRST grandchild..." and as he was talking he was pulling out his phone.  It was obvious that he wanted to show us photos of his new grandchild.  His face was lighting up.  I looked around the room and saw the sinking looks on everyone's faces.  I want to be polite and look at his photos but I am sure that the last thing we wanted to be doing is hearing anecdotal stories about his adorable grandchild.  I shut him down again.  Man, I suck.  At the end of the class, he started telling us about the "Back to Sleep Campaign" and how it works and that once babies start turning over, there is nothing you can do, but that we needn't worry because SIDS is so rare and.....  Guess who shut him up again?  Yup!  "You are talking to the wrong family", I said.  I mean......REALLY?   He also went on and on about how he used to work in a Pediatric ICU but hated talking to parents whose children died so he stopped doing that because he thought, "There has to be a better way to make a living".

It's almost comical.  Nobody thinks before they speak.  Sometimes I wonder if we make them SO nervous that they say exactly what they know they shouldn't say.  There is this story about my grandmother from when she was a child.  Her mother had a guest over for tea with a really big nose and told her that whatever she did, she should not mention the nose.  So, my grandmother asked him if he would like sugar or cream in his nose.  I've heard the story many times from other people too.  I've often wondered if it isn't just one of those stories people tell as their own.  Regardless, are people trying so hard not to say the wrong thing that they end up doing exactly that?  Is that why other people just don't mention anything at all?  It is starting to bug me less and just embarrass me for the other person more.  And, honestly, I don't feel THAT bad for shutting him up.  Am I really supposed to tip toe around the feelings of people who don't tip toe around mine?  It's bizarre.

Honestly, this guy rolled with our punches pretty well.  He was a really good teacher.  Ted and I, both former lifeguards, agreed that CPR has gotten so much "easier" to learn.  They've simplified it.  We actually watched a CPR video right after Max was born and I think we made the same comments then but who can remember?  It is good to keep refreshing ourselves.  I'm glad that our family was there too.  It made us feel supported and it was all important information for them to know too...especially Lyndsey who has an almost six year old (Mandy turns six on Saturday!) and a three month old (Camille, who Teddy and I will finally meet on Sunday.  She and Baby M are sure to be future playmates).  Layla and Jake got really into it too.  It was sort of heartbreaking how excited Layla got when the teacher started pulling the "resusie Annie baby" dolls out of his bags.  Layla has sure missed her baby these past eleven months.  We actually put both of the dogs outside before we practiced the choking methods - the teacher said that dogs often get disturbed when they see people whacking the backs of the dolls during the class.  I know Layla wouldn't have liked it.  She is incredibly sensitive.

If you have a baby or are going to have a baby - it certainly couldn't hurt to do this and I would actually highly recommend it.  As parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and babysitters, we should be as prepared as possible.  I am not sure that in my case it helps much with my fears of the same thing happening again because Max was given CPR and it didn't save him...but it helps me feel a little more confident about being able to save a life under different circumstances.  Just so you know, when the teacher left, he gave me a great big hug.  Guess he was able to not take my shut downs too personally.  Good guy.  If you live in the LA area and want to take a group class or have someone come to your house for a personal class, let me know and I will send you his info.


Susan Ireland said...

That was brave - I don't think I could do it.

I think people do expect you to absorb crass remarks. I keep being told - s/he didn't mean to upset you - as though that makes a difference. I think it comes down to this - we are the freaks. We are the wierdo, child-loss mothers who don't fit - who find all these things that other people are at ease with really diffiuclt. And the world ain't going to bend for us - so we need to put up and shut up, cos - well, they didn't mean to upset us.

maxiesmommy said...

I think you are right that people expect us to put up and shut up but I refuse at this stage. I don't care if I hurt the feelings of someone who hurts mine. I am not trying to "get them back" for hurting me, I am just not letting them get away with doing it. At a certain point, it might become exhausting but for now, I am just over nodding politely and acting like it is ok.

jkbrumbaugh@gmail.com said...

I will take the advice and do the class again. My husband gave CPR to Jayden for about 12 minutes non stop and it didnt help. I think most of the time I get a reaction of what I should have said later in response to insesitive people. I think I just get so shock that they just said so. Hurtful comments.

hunter.f said...

I'm amazed that the teacher kept making these comments. Well done to you for stopping him. I need that strength sometimes.
Thank you for the story about your grandmother though, I actually laughed out loud and I'm at work so my cover's blown!
You've inspired me to take some first aid/CPR lessons, like you it wouldn't have saved my son but I'd like to think I was prepared just in case.

Becca said...

I think it's a lack of maturity that causes people to react negatively when you tell them how their words affect you, or just that what they said was unacceptble. I tend to put my foot in my mouth so. Hugely appreciate it when somebody is frank and corrects me. I almost never mean to cause harm and it gives me a chance to apologize and learn for the future.

It sounds like your teacher was pretty receptive - I think you did him a great kindness in telling him what was and wasn't ok. Hopefully it will help him if he ever teaches another family who has experienced the death of a child. Aside from that, of course you have every right to protect yourself and your family from harmful words!! I am shocked that anyone would think otherwise. I am sorry you have to do it at all though.

Sonia said...

It seems that some people only open their mouths to change feet... Sorry that he wasn't able to show compassion, understanding and sensitivity. Glad he was good with the CPR and that you got something from the class.