Baby Woes

September 3, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"I’m rejoicing with my friends who are beginning their families, and I’m hopeful they’ll be able to rejoice with me in similar ways one day. Yet in my humanity, I simultaneously ache as I recall my own pregnancy at the sight of theirs – a gestation that never produced a healthy baby like theirs will." - Gabrielle E. Morgano (From: A Glimpse Into the Heart of a Childless Mother)

We were sitting in the car, waiting. Waiting for something to happen, or not happen. I didn't know what was or wasn't going to happen. We waited for at least thirty minutes, hoping that by the time we walked back to the house that everyone would be gone.

Late in the night, I could feel the heaviness of the dark sky. I felt like a teenager, trying to sneak back into the house after a night out of partying.

We walked past their car for a second time. The first time around, I walked past it, but hesitated and walked back to the car. I'm not ready. I don't have the energy to put up with this. All I wanted was to go home and rest. 

The second time wasn't any easier, thirty minutes was not enough time. So, I pictured myself walking up those stairs to head straight for our bedroom, not saying anything to anyone.

The car looked like a newly-purchased family-sized SUV and had a baby on board sticker on the rear window, except it was merely a joke. It said,"Baby in this b*tch." I wasn't laughing at all. I didn't find it slightly humorous or lighthearted. I found it arrogant. 

I was full of envy and felt a stab of pain, jabbing at my sides. I wanted to turn around for a second time, hoping that a third would be a charm. 

At the front door, my husband says that he hears people. Yup, they're definitely still here, as if the huge car parked right out front with the baby on board sticker wasn't enough physical evidence. This time, he hesitated, but I had already braced myself and pushed my legs to continue moving forward. There was no turning back now.  

Let's get this thing over with so we can finally go home. 

Two weeks ago, I blogged about how my husband's uncle brought over his new baby granddaughter. His daughter, Mary, (the baby's mother and my husband's cousin) was not present at the time. I was relieved that she was not here on that day. I didn't want her to give me hugs or to hear from her voice that she "knew how hard this was." 

I just wasn't in the right mind to be around new mothers, babies, and in Mary's case, her being a new mother for the fourth time, while I struggled to keep and have one. 

That Sunday was one of the hardest. I didn't expect this Sunday to be another baby-shoving-in-my-face day. 

My husband's cousin, Julie, like Mary, didn't make it to that family ceremony two weeks ago, but she was here this Sunday with her husband and new baby boy. It was their car that had the "baby in this sh*t" sticker. I wonder who thought that thing was a good idea.

When my husband and I finally made it inside of the house, up the stairs, and into our bedroom, Julie's husband (let's call him "Luke") was waiting at the baby gate, right in front of our bedroom door. That's the one thing I dislike about our bedroom; it's the first door you see when you walk up the stairs from the front door. When guests arrive, our bedroom gets the least privacy. 

But it wasn't just Luke, it was Luke and their baby greeting us right outside of our bedroom, where all I wanted to do was shut the door, lock it, hide under the blankets, and cover my ears. I hoped to not hear the baby. I'm not ready to hear babies. Not at home.

Some days, it's hard hearing Jazmine running around, talking to her grandpa in her toddler voice. I longed to hear the weight of Elijah's feet against the hardwood floor and his squeals and bouts of giggles and laughter. 

My husband was the first one to greet Luke and the baby. Me? I went straight into the room, when after just a minute or so, I could hear Jazmine's heavy little feet running for our door. I could hear the pride in Luke's voice; the pride of a newly made father who was looking forward to taking his son fishing and teaching him how to play sports.

My husband goes to the bathroom, leaving me alone, even though Jazmine is in the room with me and keeps me company. It's strange how her presence feels the most comforting, more comforting than her aunts and uncles (my in laws). It was as if she knew that I would have a hard time seeing the baby; the baby who would eventually learn how to walk and toddler talk and play with her.

Elijah should have been their playmates.

(Related Read: Cousins)

All of a sudden, there is life and noise in our bedroom. Jazmine and her mom, Luke and the baby, my sister-in-law's boyfriend greeting and hugging me. I try extremely hard to avoid Luke and the baby, but he waits for me, patiently. I could feel the pressure coming from his eagerness to show me his baby.

After hugging my sister-in-law's boyfriend, I had no choice, but to finally say hi. Luke had the biggest new dad smile, holding his three-month-old son face-forward. On the other side, I had the biggest, teeth-clenching smile, trying to hide my grief. The baby looks at me, studying my new face. I study his new face, guessing if he looked more like Julie or Luke, or both.

To me, he doesn't look like either of them, but I pinch his cheeks because like Jazmine, they both have these painfully adorable cheeks that I wish I could munch on and pinch from Elijah's little face. This isn't fair... 

And then I did the thinkable, yet, unthinkable. I put my hands out and held the baby. 

I thought it was the right thing to do. Luke was looking at me, waiting for me to feel the same pride and excitement as a new parent. Waiting for me to react the same way as everyone else in the family, of how they were all googly-eyed and awe-struck by the baby's little frame and chubby cheeks.

All I could think about was how I never got to see Elijah in this size. I never got to hold him or smell him or feel him or clothed him or feed him in this size. 

I held the baby close to my left side, but not too close. I rubbed his back up and down, as if to tell him that it was okay. The baby did this strange thing where he swayed his head to my left shoulder, as if trying to bang his head on me. I held him in this quiet demeanor that felt like forever. And then quickly told Luke that he could have him back.

I thought about holding him and taking him out to the living room, and showing everyone how uncomfortably comfortable I was, holding this new baby who would never know about his cousin Elijah, who died nearly two years before he was born.

But I wasn't ready and that is why this had felt all wrong. I didn't feel that same hope, with a twinge of fear and pain and even love, as I did when I held Jazmine for the first time, seven months after she was born and fifteen months after Elijah died. No. I felt rushed, I felt forced, I felt used for my love and attention.

I gave Luke what he wanted, but didn't get anything in return. I didn't see or hear a hint of sorrow in his eyes or in his voice or an understanding of how difficult this was for me. I didn't feel any sort of comfort for my loss, for not having the same physical ability to hand him my baby.

I wondered if he had forgotten about Elijah. He certainly acted as if he did. And if he did, then I hope that it was because his new baby had temporarily blinded him and not because of his personal ignorance. 

Shortly after the encounter, everyone was leaving. If we had waited another 20-30 minutes, none of this would have happened.

Though, a part of me was glad that it did. Maybe this was a way to finally "get it over with." I would eventually have to see the baby anyway, even though I wanted to avoid seeing the baby until he was at least a one-year-old running toddler, like Jazmine... or until we are pregnant with our baby. This was also a way to redeem myself for not going to their baby shower back in April.

Yet, I wasn't ready then and still not ready now. 

I don't know why, but this whole thing brought me back to the night when I had first met Luke and Julie.

My husband and I were in our earliest stages of getting together, a little more than six years ago. That night, my husband promised me that he would pick me up after work and we would stay over at his house. I later got a phone call from his cousin, Luke, that my husband was drunk and the three of them (my husband, Luke, and Julie) was in the car, waiting for me in the parking lot. Luke drove us home. 

Ever since then, I've gotten to know both Luke and Julie and there was a time that I was close to Julie. Julie was one of the few family members on my husband's side that I was comfortable with. It wasn't until after losing Elijah that I became distant and then even more distant after they had their baby.

Luke and Julie have been together for way longer than my husband and I have been together. I have known that Julie has hoped for a baby, as much as I did for ours. She also struggled to conceive in the same way as I did. I should be happy for them and it's not that I'm not. It just hurts knowing that it should have been our baby first.

It should have been our baby before my sister-in-law's baby, before both of my husband's cousin's babies.

It should have been Elijah, nearly a two-year-old running around with Jazmine, gazing at the small face of their new baby cousin.

I sit here and ask, "Where is our baby?"

Does anyone hope for our baby, as much as we are having to be happy for theirs?

With love,

Must Read:
Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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