Dave and I attempted to go to a cookout today. One of my good friends and her husband moved away from the area a few years ago and were back in town for a visit. This cook out was so friends could see them and their daughter, who was born in November. I obviously knew that their baby would be there as well as a few other babies and at least one pregnant person.
I knew it would be tough, and I prepared myself for tears when I held my friends’ baby. Instead, I started crying as soon as they saw them. It was a mix of emotions. I was so happy to see my friend, who has been such a huge support to me, but sad at the same time because seeing someone for the first time in my “after” life is difficult. It was also very emotional to see my friend holding her precious little girl, who was so desperately wanted by her parents. They didn’t have the easiest time having her, and seeing her in person for the first time as a mother filled my heart with overwhelming joy. Most of the sadness came from seeing this little girl who, as soon as she was born, I knew would be friends my with my own little girl. It was difficult for Dave, too. It was harder on him than he had anticipated, and he described it as being hit with a ton of bricks. We went out to the car for a few minutes to get some tears out and catch our breath, and we figured we’d be okay for the rest of the afternoon.
As more and more people arrived, more babies entered the house. I knew well ahead of time to expect this, but as each baby came in, it was a reminder that I should be with my newborn. I remembered that the last time we saw most of these people, three of us were pregnant, although I was unknowingly only three weeks along and had no idea at the time that the mass of cells that would soon become my heart was already forming. All three of us had given birth since the last get together, but the other two had outcomes that I would trade my soul to have.
There was one pregnant woman there who I don’t think I’d ever met before today. She’s over 40 weeks pregnant right now, so just seeing her and having her in such close proximity was more difficult than I’d expected. She was being so friendly and trying so hard to make conversation with me, but I was trying so hard to choke back my tears that I could barely get out one word answers to her questions. Dave and I stood around a kitchen island trying to pretend we were mentally present but doing everything we could to tune out the conversations that were surrounding us. Then the pregnant woman asked one of the new mothers if she’d known ahead of time what she was having and I reached my breaking point. We moved into the other room, and when I saw my friend’s concerned look on her face, going into the other room wasn’t enough. We went outside and never made it back into the house.
I cried and cried while Dave went inside to ask my friend to come out with her daughter. She and her husband came out, and Dave hugged her husband and cried while I held their little girl. It was the first time I’ve held a baby since Jillian was born, and it was the easiest part of the day. It felt so good to have a baby in my arms, but it didn’t really remind me of Jillian. My baby weighed less than a pound and a half when I got to hold her, so I can’t even compare holding these two little girls. It was just very bittersweet to hold the baby that should have been one of Jillian’s first friends and it was impossible not to cry.
Fortunately, I’m going to see my friends in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to it very much. It’s hard not to beat myself up because I couldn’t handle a situation I’d tried so hard to prepare myself for. As Dave put it, it feels like a huge step back. I’ve tried so hard not to be the person who can’t handle other babies or pregnant woman, but today was kind of an overload. I know someday it will be easier, but for now, it’s more than I can take.