I used to love babies. If someone I know had a baby, I’d be one of the first people around wanting to hold, talk to, cuddle and love on the little one. I can remember my cousin coming over soon after having my god-daughter and me trying to take her out of the car seat before they could even get into the door. When my aunt had her last daughter, my mom brought her in and placed her right in my arms. Give me ALL the babies! I’ve always been the person to smile at and engage with small children. Babies and toddlers in particular because I just love the joy on their faces, their sweetness and need for verbal and physical attention, and just being able to provide that kind of comfort to a child. It met a need in me just as much as it met a need for that child.
I kind of miss that engagement… I have been avoiding children like the plague because… well because I miss my own. I felt so close to having my own children, raising my own babies, caring for, nursing, providing comfort and love for my own kids. Then that dream almost fulfilled was snatched away. I don’t know why… I don’t know if we’ll ever fully know why but it happened. I could rationalize all I want and find meaning all I want. In fact, I believe I have found meaning and can rationalize why our loss happened to us in many ways that really make sense. But it doesn’t change how I feel about the loss though… It doesn’t make it feel any better or make any of the things that have happened after it, feel more fulfilling or meaningful. I miss my daughters… I miss the possibilities for their lives… I miss the days I expected to see their eyes and their smiles and hear their voices. I miss the expectation of my growing belly and even the fear I had (and still have to a degree even though I now have a clear idea of what it will look & feel like) about birth. I miss the magic in children and the magic that it sparks inside myself.
One of the reasons I love Disney parks is because of the magic it elicits in all of us. The split second where you believe you’re actually posing for pictures with Mickey & Minnie or the moment when you really (for a second) believe you just saw Cinderella or Elsa. Kids at these parks really, truly believe they’re seeing these characters more often than not. That wonderment doesn’t really exist in adults and if it does, it’s usually only for a short time. On my last visit to FL, I avoided looking at children. When I saw them, it honestly made me sad when previously, it wouldn’t brought me so much extra joy. There were A LOT of kids and babies but I was so intentional about avoiding them that I definitely missed out on the vicarious magical experience of having your life touched by a child. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the reasons this trip felt different and besides the obvious (my girls weren’t with us), this ‘missing’ was a large factor. I tried y’all… I tried to look at some babies & kids but the positive feeling was so short-lived and then followed by bouts of sadness that I had to fight off to try and still have a good time.
I miss kids and spending time with them but I have to limit my exposure while I’m still moving down this river of grief. Maybe that’s not the best option but the wound is still so raw that engagement basically makes me start bleeding again (metaphorically). Maybe I should volunteer. I thought about it. I thought about volunteering to be a cuddler in the NICU or something. Then I thought about the possibility and probability that some of those babies don’t make it. I also thought about the trauma of seeing tiny babies hooked up to all those machines and I just couldn’t… I thought about babysitting (idk who) or even visiting with people who have small children but I’m still borderline terrified of emotionally doing that to myself. I tested myself to see how much conversation I could endure about someone’s birth experience & new parent experience and honestly, after that convo, I felt I met my quota for like a month. I didn’t burst into tears or feel super down afterwards but I did need to engage in some self-care afterwards. Gradually, I think I’ll get back into it. I know it’s part of my healing and I simply can’t avoid babies & kids forever. Plus, I’m well aware that it’s not healthy emotionally or mentally to just try avoiding things that upset you. The only way to it (healing) is through it, right? So I know, I know… I’ve gotta go through it. Baby steps though…
I don’t hate your babies. In fact, I’m so drawn to your babies that it only amplifies my own loss and makes me feel completely dismantled. I don’t necessarily not want to see pictures of their cuteness, I just really recognize that I will never get to see growing pictures of the daughters I lost. I don’t not want to babysit but I realize I might want to steal your kids. Just kidding ;-). Seriously though, it just reminds me of what I don’t have. It’s different than jealousy or envy… it’s more of a longing feeling and an incredible emptiness and sadness. So forgive us y’all. Family, friends, coworkers, etc. who are pregnant or have small children please understand that we don’t all of a sudden hate your kids. We just really, really, really, REALLY miss our own and frankly, they’re a painful reminder of what we no longer have.