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Reaction to loss baffles mother

DEAR ANNIE: Last August, I gave birth to my daughter, Anna. I found out during my seventh month of pregnancy that Anna had a severe brain disorder and, at best, would be severely handicapped. I carried to term, but sadly, Anna died two days after she was born.

I occasionally mention to people that I had a daughter, and when they find out the details it’s almost as if they write it off because she only lived for two days — as if that makes her life less meaningful. My own family has ignored her existence. My sister commented over Christmas that she had forgotten I’d had a daughter.

I don’t know how to respond to these people. My daughter was important to me. Is it wrong to want her to be important to other people, as well? — Denise in Rochester, N.Y.

DEAR DENISE: It’s not wrong, but you are expecting too much to think others must care as much as you do. You bonded with Anna for your entire pregnancy. Others knew her for a much briefer time. When a child dies, especially so soon after birth, many people have no idea how to deal with it and they minimize the tragedy because it is easier to process. They don’t truly understand your loss.

If you have not had some type of memorial service, please consider it. And we also recommend you contact SHARE Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support (nationalshareoffice.com) at 1-800-821-6819. Our deepest condolences.

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DEAR ANNIE: I am a 22-year-old single woman and was in an exclusive relationship with "Matt" for six months. We always used protection whenever we were intimate. Last December, he suddenly stopped seeing me and wouldn’t return my calls.

I dealt with the breakup as best I could. However, at my recent annual doctor’s visit, I was shocked to learn I had an STD. How could this be? Matt and I always used condoms, and I wasn’t with anyone else before and haven’t been since.

Please explain how this could have happened. — Devastated on Staten Island, New York

DEAR NEW YORK: While condoms are very effective, they are not foolproof and on rare occasion have been known to break and leak.

Also, STDs can be transmitted through oral sex, and some can be spread through any contact with an infected area.

The important thing is that you be treated promptly.

For more information, contact the American Social Health Association (ashastd.org) at 1-800-227-8922.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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