When I was pregnant a decade ago with my first batch of kids, I had lots of friends who were going through the same thing. We experienced pregnancy cravings together, enjoyed one another’s baby showers, shared the good and bad advice that we received, called each other in the wee hours to cry about our crying infants. Having friends who were experiencing the same things was a comfort when I was parenting four kids who were five and under.
But I had one friend who had several miscarriages right around the time I was expecting my last two, one just a few weeks after I gave birth to my youngest daughter. We cried with her during that time, but I’m ashamed to admit that I probably didn’t understand just how hard that was for her and her husband. It’s true that I was wrapped up in parenting two other young kids as well as a newborn, but I also didn’t find time to sit with her in her grief. For that, I am truly sorry. I probably expected there to be more celebration than she was able to give at that time – after all, I was excited about my new baby girl, why wasn’t she more enthusiastic? I didn’t understand the balance that she was trying to maintain, going from excited participant in the birth process to onlooker in the excitement of others.
Over the past months, I’ve been thrilled because several of my online writing friends are expecting new little ones in their families. I have two friends whose wives are expecting in July, one just a few days away from what was my due date. Now, as we near July, two of them are still anticipating the births of their sons and my son is only a memory.
I don’t know how to feel about that.
Part of me just wants to ignore it entirely. I want to block them on Facebook for a while, because I don’t want to see the pictures of their wives here in the final days of their pregnancies, looking absolutely beautiful and joyful. I don’t want to see the pictures of the births. I don’t want to see pictures of their siblings holding a new baby. I don’t want to see these dads kissing the tops of their newborn sons’ heads. It’s not fair, and it hurts to even think about it.
But I can’t ignore it. If I leave my house, I’m going to see someone with a baby. When I’m at work, there are students who have tiny brothers and sisters who wait outside of my room for their siblings to finish their lessons. If we go for a walk, we’re going to see a pregnant mom getting in her laps before she has her baby. People will post pictures of their children online every single day. If we’re driving down the road, we’ll see advertisements for ob/gyn practices that have pictures of adorable infants on them.
Unless I want to live in absolutely seclusion for the rest of my life, there’s no way to avoid that hurt.
And the truth is, I am happy for my friends.
I love that these men and their wives are bringing new life into the world. It makes me smile to think that there will be more love in these households, more stories to be shared, more beauty to be experienced.
Some days I’ll cry – probably most days, at least for a while. Their pictures and stories will remind me of what we lost with Elliott, and I will grieve that. But I will also take time to celebrate with my friends. To admire their sons and daughters. To laugh with them at their children’s adventures. To commiserate with them about long napless days, and longer sleepless nights.
When I need to withdraw, I will. When I need to grieve, I will. When I need to cry, I will.
But then I will celebrate.