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The Kids They Might Be
If you've experienced pregnancy or infant loss, do you think of those children as they would be now or as forever babies, somehow frozen in time?
I had to get a baby gift for someone this week. I've been avoiding the baby aisle at the store for years now. Many years ago, I had an absolute panic attack in that aisle. I melted down, certain I would be the first person in the world to literally turn to dust from the weight of my sadness. For a long time after my daughter died, I tried to walk by without looking, finding myself looking anyway and always sad. The sight of tiny socks or bibs or diapers on an end cap could ruin the rest of shopping trip.
Because I had five miscarriages and lost my daughter at only four days old, they were always babies to me. I never got to know my daughter as someone older. In the cases of the miscarriages, I never got to know them at all. I had never thought about how old any of these children would be now. It had just seemed too painful. It was too much a reminder of the losses, I thought.
But as I stalked the baby aisle, assembling my gift, it occurred to me that my daughter would have been six this year. The other babies I lost would have been 12, 10, 9, 8 and 7. This shift of perspective let me feel a little better about the baby aisle and babies in general.
I was always the person to pick up a baby or hold a baby. I changed diapers without a qualm. I laughed about spit up. Whether it was my friend's babies, my nephews or my own kids, I really loved babies. That changed after my first miscarriage. All of the sudden, other people's babies were something to be envious of. They were a reminder of my loss, so potent it was sometimes like a physical blow. I began to avoid babies like the plague. I oohed and aahed in the appropriate places but I wasn't feeling it. I didn't go out of my way to hold anyone's baby and if I found one dropped into my lap, I was certain I would burst into hysterical tears the entire time.
Thinking of my losses in terms of the kids they might be now is still sad. I don't think any parent can lose any child at any age and not be sad. This shift in perspective isn't going to change that. Yet it may change some of the resentful hurt I've felt about babies in general.
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