Taking Up Space

I was on the way to a doctor’s appointment when I stopped into a local coffee shop to pick up an iced coffee to sip on the way.

The lady in front of me in line seemed to have already finished her order. She had her coffee, but she was still chatting with the barista. They were looking at some pictures on his phone, and that’s when I realized. This is the guy I had heard about from Zach. He and his wife had a baby a few weeks after Owen was born/died. I knew about him because he was proudly showing his brand new son’s pictures off the first week Zach went back to work. Zach had stopped in for coffee to help him get through those first few rough, rough days. What awful timing for both new dads, I had thought at the time. So anyway, now here he was again, showing off his son, and here I was, just wanting my coffee. Another barista came out from the back and noticed me, finally, and called from behind the counter to ask what I wanted. I placed my order, and the chit-chatters finally dispersed so the proud dad could ring up my order. I paid, tipped, and was happy to be getting on my way. I wasn’t running late, but I wasn’t early either, so I was feeling a little pressure to get moving.

I was about to turn away. I was about to be able to avoid this interaction entirely, when all of a sudden, “Wait! I certainly can’t deprive you of pictures of my amazing four month old son!”

In another world, where I’m comfortable allowing myself and my grief to take up some space, I told this man that my baby son died in April, and I’d really rather not look at photos of his son, aged only 2 weeks or so less than my own would have been.

In this world, I gave the briefest of glances at his phone, grimaced at him in an attempt to smile, and barely made it out of the shop before I couldn’t contain the tears anymore.



And still I left wondering how rude he thought I must have been for not gushing over his precious baby.

7 thoughts on “Taking Up Space

  1. It’s not too late… I can totally see you going in later this week and saying, “You know, I’m sorry if I seemed rude when I was looking at pictures of your beautiful son. My own son died recently, so it was really hard for me.” In a good world, the barista would ask all about Owen. If it’s eating you up, maybe worth it? It’s so hard when it’s casual acquaintances… you feel the guilt of saying nothing (like you wouldn’t, really, with a stranger) and don’t feel comfortable enough to tell the story (like with a closer friend). Plus, then, whenever you see this barista in the future, you have to decide if you want to be “that woman who lost a baby,” you know? I’m sorry you weren’t able to get to avoid this encounter entirely :(.

    • so I did something sort of like that. after my vow of telling the next pt who congratulated me on my new baby, I had the opportunity. a pt said “i heard you had a baby! congrats!” I paused too long and then couldnt say anything, but thank you. In weighed on me thorughout the whole time I was with her. at the end of the visit I decided to say something. is aid “I wanted to thank you for asking about my baby earlier. Becuase you were kind enough to say something, I wanted to let you know that she died.” I got a really positive response from her.

      BUT I know this scenario is way different and like babylossmama said, it might also put the label on you. I’m learning to experiment at what feel right and what gets palatable responses for me.

      god, what a world we live in, where someone showing off their baby causes us such pain! why do babies die and leave us in such situations where it *should* be easy but instead its so so hard.

      as I listened to another patients lungs today and saw name with angel wings tattooed on her shoulder (another one!?! I guess its a thing), I confirmed it was her first child’s name and she said “yeah, he’s in the waiting room” and I was terrified she’d say, she wanted me to meet him- even though he’s not close in age to what Mabel would be, I didnt want to meet the baby that was tattooed on her back. it gave me anxiety! so I can ONLY imagine how hard it would be for you to have that experience with a baby close to Owen’s age!

  2. ouf! So unpleasant! It seems really intense on the part of the barista to push his baby photos on every customer. I agree with babylossmama that it’s not too late to say something if you feel up for it. Or maybe just leave him a note?

    Of course, do so only if you think it will make you feel better. But if that’s the case, i am sure it would also serve other people (who struggle with infertility or have suffered a miscarriage, for instance).

    I am sorry you had to deal with that. I wish you could just respond by showing off your 4 month old photos.

  3. 😩 that’s a crappy situation for sure. I bet the baby is a horror baby that screams all the time and he is over compensating for pretending that it’s all amazing and awesome and shoving pictures of his baby in poor unsuspecting strangers faces.
    You were much more gracious than I think I could have been if it were me, I think I would have thrown my coffee at him. X

  4. Just want to say that you are worthy and deserving of space, whatever that might come to mean for you. You have a right to be here, there, everywhere.

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