You Don't Know How Hard It Is

August 19, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"I know it hurts / It’s hard to breathe sometimes / These nights are long / You’ve lost the will to fight" 

"Is anybody out there? / Can you lead me to the light / Is anybody out there? / Tell me it’ll all be alright." - Ruelle, Carry You.

My husband's uncle walks into our bedroom, holding a baby. His newest granddaughter who looks to be at least a couple of months old. All I could do was flash him with my biggest, fake smile, biting my teeth.

"Oh, HI!" I try to keep my eyes above his arms, but see a hint of the baby's hot pink shirt. At least, I think it's hot pink. I'm not sure because I can't find the courage to actually look at her.


I don't ask him about the baby. I think he knows why. 

"Where's Sou?" 

"I don't know. I think he's in the backyard or in the bathroom."  I think he's looking for my husband, so he could show him the baby.

"Oh, ok." He turns around and slowly walks out the door.

I let out a breath that I was working so hard on holding in. I wanted to cry. I wanted to pinch myself. And I wanted to run away. I had an idea that there would be kids at the house this weekend, besides Jazmine.

(Related Read: Cousins)

I just didn't know which or who would be showing up. This Saturday was one of those family ceremonies. The house comes to life and becomes crowded with elders, friends, and family - and sometimes kids. Rarely is there a baby present during these ceremonies. 

I wrote a blog about my husband's cousin's baby shower back in April. That was the second baby shower I decided on not attending, since Elijah's death. I thought that my husband's cousin (I "named" her "Julie") was going to be here this weekend; I was even bracing myself for it, just in case I was right. 

(Related Read: I'm Just Not Ready)

Julie and her husband did bring their new baby here, but I still haven't seen the baby. The day Julie, her husband, and new baby boy was here was on Father's Day. Both my husband and I stayed in our bedroom all day because this year's Father's Day was awfully disappointing. I think the baby is now three months old or so. It turns out that Julie and her husband and their new baby didn't make it to yesterday's ceremony. 

I have to admit that I am relieved that they weren't here because I really wasn't prepared or ready to see babies. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about my husband's other cousin (lets call her Mary), who had just had her daughter not to long ago, which is the baby girl I mentioned earlier. That baby girl is my husband's cousin's fourth child. As much as I would love to be happy for her and their family, I feel like such a failure. 

I also felt like everyone was trying to shove the baby into my face. Is it horrible of me to admit that I am glad that my mother-in-law wasn't here yesterday to hold the baby? It would break my heart to see her cradling the baby, like how I had to witness her happiness and joy when my sister-in-law was pregnant with Jazmine or when Jazmine was a baby. 

I still wish to see her hold my baby... 

Instead of seeing Elijah playing among them, I will soon in the future see Jazmine playing with Julie's baby and Mary's kids. That hurts. 

Throughout the whole day, I spent most of my time in the bedroom, trying to hide from the huge crowd of people, but mostly from the baby. Once I saw the baby, all I could think of was: AVOID. AVOID. AVOID. HIDE. RUN. But there was no way I could avoid the baby, no way that I could hide, and nowhere to run. I don't even know why I stayed home this time, but I did. I stayed home, until all of the guests had left. 

I couldn't close our bedroom door, it would be rude to do so. Plus, we had a couple of kids in our room, playing on the laptop, the iPad, and watching Netflix. Our house isn't "kid friendly," even for Jazmine. There's not much to play with, but when kids visit, our bedroom seems to be the most welcoming. It becomes almost like a playroom for kids and my husband and I are the caretakers for the day. 

I don't know why, maybe because those kids were hers, but there was a lady (lets call her my husband's aunt) who would hold the baby right in front of our bedroom door. Maybe she was holding the baby and watching her kids at the same time, but hearing the baby cry was torment to my heart. I'm not ready to hear babies cry. It's been more than two years after Elijah died, but I don't think I'll ever be ready to be around babies.

It's because we lost Elijah so abruptly during my pregnancy and I am forever tormented by the loss of experiencing the rest of my pregnancy and life with Elijah as a baby or in any and all stages for that matter. 

Older kids are fine and the only reason why I could find the courage to be around Jazmine is because it took me seven months to adjust. I also had no choice, but to see her every weekday because my father-in-law is her babysitter. But even now, I still have those rough days where I can't be around her. 

I could see in the mirror, my back facing the door, as my sisters-in-law hold the baby and walk back and forth in the hallway, between the doors of our bedroom and my parents-in-law's bedroom. My brother-in-law came by and asked my husband, "Did you see the baby yet?" 

I dared not turn around. I was sitting on my desk, blogging. I needed something to keep my mind busy and away from as much grief and triggers as I possibly could. 

I'm not sure, but I think I saw my husband move his hands, as if to silently say, "go away." My husband answers back with something about how "she already looks like" so and so. I’d like to think that my husband could feel the intensity of my discomfort and aversion to being around the baby. 

I was forced to go into the kitchen to grab my sister something to eat. My husband's aunt (not the one I mentioned earlier) nudged me on my shoulder and asked why I didn't come out to eat or out of the bedroom. Luckily, another woman was talking to her and saved me. I didn't have to come up with an answer. I couldn't tell her, "Because seeing your new baby granddaughter when I lost my baby and still can't have a baby hurts like hell." 

In no way could I be honest with her when everyone was so excited about the new baby.

When my husband's uncle and aunt were about to leave with the baby, my husband's uncle decides to put the crying baby right outside of our bedroom door. Of course he would, our door is right in front of the stairs to the front door.

The baby cried and cried, sounding like she needed her mother. It was terrible. When babies cry, they sound like they are in pain and all you want to do is help the poor thing. Shame to whoever let the baby cry for so long. But inside, I wanted so bad to shut it out. Part of me wanted to help the baby, the other part of me wanted to put on ear plugs. The whole of me was in "flight or fight" mode and I wanted to do both, as if the baby was a monster. 

A weight lifted off my shoulders when they were gone. I could breathe again. 

I remember when I was pregnant with Elijah, my husband's uncle was giving us his "two cents" about pregnancy. My husband, mother and father-in-law, my husband's uncle and aunt, a shaman, and I with Elijah in my belly, were eating dinner together. My husband's uncle told me that I shouldn't eat duck or turkey. That was hard to give up because I loved both. I ate them anyway when I was pregnant. 

He would visit, sometimes alone, or with his wife (he's my father-in-law's brother) and when he saw me, he would always ask me if I was doing okay. It was something that I knew was a small gesture of love and care because he knew how hard it was for me to be around Jazmine when she was a baby. I would always leave home and he would ask me where I was going or if I was coming back. 

I also know that his wife feels the same way for me. She would ask me how I am doing, not in a formal way, but in a soft and gentle way, because I lost Elijah. I could hear the tenderness in her voice. I think she could see the fragility in my eyes and sadness in my walk. 

For some reason, I feel slightly more closer to my husband's aunt and uncle, than my mother and father-in-law. Maybe it is because I feel as sense of openness and understanding with them. I guess it's their energy. 

I've always liked my husband's uncle though. He's usually cheery and has this youthful smile on his face. When he says, "Hi," I can't help, but smile back and say, "Hi" because his energy feels warm and genuine. I felt so bad that I didn't and couldn't have the courage to greet his granddaughter. It's too hard. It isn't because I make it out to be, it's hard because of Elijah. 

Because Elijah died and nothing could change that. His death is something that I don't know if I could ever adapt or adjust to. It's far too painful, it's not that simple to "work around," and it feels like I died, too. 

As much as I wish I could say that I don't want to focus on having another baby anymore, I can't. I can't when all of these babies just keep on popping out and appearing right before me. 

It was hard watching everyone care for the new baby. I wished it was my baby, our baby that they were so lovingly and willingly holding. 

This one day, my husband said, "I just want to have a baby and go fishing." (I think that's what he said.)

I said, "I just want to travel." Part of it was a lie. 

I want to travel... with our baby.  

I don't know if that day will ever come. 

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