Monday, January 10, 2011

Other People's Babies

I've always been one of those people who likes babies.  I smile at babies at the grocery store.  I want to hold other people's babies.  I adored my little cousins when they were babies.

One of many things that has scared me since Eliza died is that somehow her loss would make me hate babies.

Or, more accurately, that every baby would become a cruel reminder of the baby I do not have, a "trigger" that would cause me to fall to pieces in an instant, wherever I might be, whatever I might be doing.

One of my best friends had a baby in October.  Owen is three months old.  He looks just like his dad, but with chubbier cheeks.  He is a sweet, happy baby, with brown fuzz on his head and the funniest facial expressions.

I dreaded seeing him again.

So when I did see him, I was surprised.

He was just as cute as I remembered, and even chunkier than the last time I'd seen him (at a baby shower in late November).  He did not make me cry.  I held him and kissed him and played with him.

He didn't make me miss Eliza any more than I was already missing her which made me wonder how I ever thought I could possibly miss her more than I already do?

Owen is just...  Owen.  He's not my baby.  He's a perfectly sweet, perfectly wonderful, perfectly darling baby and I love him.  But he's not the one I want.

I suppose I am jealous of my friend.  She gets to do with him the things I wanted to do with Eliza--the holding and reading and putting to bed, the laughing and playing and showing off to relatives.  When I think about everything I'm missing, it hurts so much.  But that ache is not about my friend and her baby. 

What I mean is, I would be sad and hurt and broken to pieces about what I'm missing regardless of whether someone else is currently experiencing it. 

To some extent, this realization is a relief--I don't need to walk around trying to avoid all babies.

They can't break my heart because it's already shattered.  They can't make me sad because I'm already sick with grief.  They can't remind me of what I've lost because I will have never forgotten.


  1. You are much braver than I am. I avoid babies like the plague. If there's a baby in the room I do my best to ignore him or her. I have two friends who were pregnant when I was and I have yet to meet their babies. So good for you!

  2. Wow - I wasn't able to hold another baby until I was about 8 months out from Sam's death. And when I did, it wasn't nearly as bad as thought it was going to be -in fact, I thought, `what took me so long?'. Happy, naive, pregnant women were a different story - I had trouble with them for awhile (and truth be told, I still envy their innocence).

    You have amazing insight and clarity about your grief.

    I`m just sorry you have to experience the ache and longing for Eliza. She should be here, and I`m so, so, sorry she is not.

  3. The week after I learned Will had died in me in utero...I held my best friend's newborn baby boy. And I felt much the same as you: this was not my William. He was a special baby, but not MY special baby. It was a strong thing for you to do, holding little Owen...another step in the sandy dune that is walking in grief. I read on your comment to me that you are in STL...I am there (or near there as well). I delivered at St. John's Mercy. Please feel free to email me at if you want to connect sometime. Blessings, Eve

  4. You are so strong. I still avoid babies and feel intensely sad if someone mentions their baby, especially if they are the same age Lily would have been. Maybe someday I'll be able to interact with babies again and not completely avoid them, but for now I just can't face happy parents and their perfect little ones.

  5. i'm mostly (but not always) ok with babies. (sometimes they break my heart.) but pregnant women are another story. there are now four other pregnant women in my building at work (for reference, there has never been more than one pregnant woman at a time for about the last decade) and i am SO glad that i am pregnant myself, else i would not be able to interact with them. but... even still. sometimes it's hard to look at them and realise that they think i'm the same as them. because i'm not.

    it took me a long time to get even this far.

    as you can probably guess, i'm very behind on blog reading and commenting. i'm sorry about that. but i'm still thinking of you and of Eliza. xx

  6. I still struggle with babies and it has been over 10 months since my Chloe died. I don't know what to do. My sister in law had a baby 4 months ago and I can't interact with him even though everybody is pressuring me. I have tried but it just hurts too much. Seems to me that I miss Chloe more and more. I loved what you said, about other babies not being able to break your heart because it is already broken...I guess I just have to keep trying.