Since I moved back to Ohio, I have spent my summers:
1. painting and completing other various home-improvement projects to our new house
2. getting married and honeymooning (Yes, 1 & 2 happened in that order. And it worked out just fine, thank you.)
3. traveling to Europe with my mom then hoping to get pregnant
4. hanging with Ben
5. hanging with Ben and my Lydie belly
And this sixth summer? It will be more hanging out with Ben. Without Lydie.
Usually, this time of year, I'm on countdown. 4 weeks to go. I start to daydream about our mornings at story hours and our afternoons at the pool.
Now? I'm excited to spend time with my boy. I'm ready to have a break from my commute and the million emails and the many meetings and the phone calls with parents and even the students, who are the best part of my job.
But I'm nervous about the library and the pool.
I'm anxious about being around other moms. I don't fit in anymore, though they wouldn't know it by looking at me. I know it. I feel it.
It would actually be easier to wear a scarlet A. Or at least have those business cards that Elizabeth McCracken refers to, stating "my baby died."
I can't do the often-complaining mom talk these days, about how tough breastfeeding is or potty-training or just about everything else. I can't help thinking: You know what's worse than that? Not doing it. Because my kid died. I certainly can't talk to a mom who's wrangling her toddler while breastfeeding her baby. I can't do it. I can barely look at that mom. I dread them making the assumption that Benjamin's my only child. I can't quite tell them that actually, we have two, and the other's on the mantle at home. (And we so wish she was here with us, and I could complain about her).
I know our lives look normal from the outside. But the inside? Not normal. Don't know how to be. Don't know how to be around moms who don't know the truth about us.
Which made me so appreciate this poem. Stephanie's situation is different. She's had her rainbow baby when she wrote this poem, and still doesn't feel like she fits. Which reminds me that I'll never fit again. Which is why it's such a comfort to be with my baby loss friends, where we don't have to do so much explaining and we can openly talk about all our children.
Why I Cannot Join a Mom's Group - by Stephanie Paige Cole
Surrounded by women
With children in their laps
On their laps
Circling their legs
I belong and I don't
I meet the criteria to be in this club
With a little one balanced on my hip
Playing with my hair
It is typical mom conversation
What foods have you introduced?
Is he sleeping through the night?
Anyone thinking about having a second?
That's not what's on my mind
There's a little girl laughing in the corner
She would be just her age
Now I am choking on thoughts
That I cannot turn into words
I will not allow myself to cry here
But I miss her I miss her I miss her
Talk only about the live one
You will alienate yourself
You will be the-woman-with-the-dead-baby
You will not make new friends
I repeat it until I accept it
I shut off what is real
I chat about teething
I go home and cry
Yes, he's sleeping through the night
He likes pears and advocados
And we're starting to think about having another
But that would be our third
And you don't realize how good you have it
There are worse things than sleepless nights
With cranky infants
There are sleepless nights alone