Yesterday I took a huge step. I held a baby. A newborn baby.
The mom is from my infant loss support group and her daughter was born a week ago today. I remember a while back at group I said that I just wanted to hold a baby. But it would have to be a baby I could cry all over. She told me once her baby came I could definitely cry all over her if I needed to.
I didn't know how I'd feel about holding a newborn baby. I was nervous and excited to meet the little lady all at the same time. Mike came with me and we brought a cake. I thought about if I should bring something for the baby, but there's no way I'm ready to do shopping anywhere near the baby aisles.
For awhile we just chatted with mom and dad while dad held the baby. There was no pressure to hold the baby or ooh and aah over her. We talked about a variety of things, including how it was for them going through a delivery this time and some of the anxieties. We had a good mix of conversation about all of our children. The new baby of course, their older son, the daughter they lost and Marcellus. All of them were treated equally in conversation. Something I relish about being with other parents that have lost babies. They know how to casually talk about their children and my Marcellus. With other loss parents I feel like I am a mommy, not just a baby loss mommy, but a real mommy.
Not feeling pressured to hold her I think really helped me transition into being in a room with a newborn baby. A baby that looks so big to us. The parents told us how it's so funny to hear that because everyone has been saying how little she is. But compared to our little 3 pound 2 ounce pumpkin, she looks huge!
We then had cake, which was delicious. And of which I had nothing to do with the making. So good job on the cake Mikey! By then I was finally ready to hold the baby.
So I did. I held her. I held her cradled in my arms, the way I never got to hold Marcellus until he was dying and after. She opened her eyes and looked right at me. Her mom said she doesn't open her eyes very often. It made me feel good. I like to think Marcellus sends me signs. He used this baby to tell me he's okay. She opened her eyes to look at me to tell me he's okay.
To my surprise I didn't cry. Not one tear shed over the new baby girl. I think it really helps me that she's a girl and she was dressed all in pink. Not an outfit that would make me think of my baby boy. And I have to say it actually felt good to hold her. It felt right. Now when I go back and forth between wanting to try again or not I will think of how it felt to hold her. That it did warm my heart, even if just for a moment.
Instead of thinking of her as representing what we lost, I tried to think of her as a sign of what we did have. And what we could have again. Sometimes we focus so much on Marcellus's death that we don't think about the fact that he lived. He lived and he was here for 12 days. Holding the baby yesterday reminded me of that. Of having him here. Of holding him. Those are good memories, good things to think about.
I think we also have immersed ourselves pretty far into the baby loss world. Going to group, talking with other loss moms, going to the baby section of cemeteries, reading stories and blogs online about loss, buying every infant loss book out there. And I think that's okay. That's what we, or at least I, need to do right now. That doesn't mean I always will. But yesterday was a nice break from the sad stories. A happy ending. Babies do live and the do live most of the time. In this world I am in, that's hard to realize sometimes.
I'm not ready to hold just anyone's baby. For me it's different that the parents have experienced a previous loss. That this baby is what some would call a rainbow baby. I know what they've been through to get to this place. She's a little sign of hope. Hope that someday we too could be ready and hopefully blessed to have a rainbow.
I did have moments of guilt later in the day that I didn't cry. And who knows, next time I hold her I might shower her with tears. But that's okay. It's okay to cry all over her and it's okay to feel good about holding her. I have to tell myself that, either way it's okay. I'm not betraying Marcellus by not crying and if I do cry doesn't mean I'm not happy for the parents.
Marcellus, holding that little (but big compared to you!) baby yesterday was good for Mommy. It helped me remember all the good, perfect, wonderful times we had with you here. That even though you're not here, I will always be your mommy. That even if someday we have a little brother or sister for you, they will be just that - your little brother or sister. Because you will always be a part of our family and they will never replace you. You will always be the big brother, little siblings will not take your place. They will just add to our family. I do so wish that I could hold you again and see you peek up at me like the baby did yesterday. I really miss you sweet boy! I really really miss and love you! xoxox