I was out shopping yesterday, buying some last minute Christmas gifts (because I always forget somebody. I will let you speculate on who) and was in a department store, in the baby section (ok, fine, I was looking for clothes for Olivia, sheesh). I was aimlessly walking about, picking up an outfit here, some footed pajamas there, when I saw her. A girl about my age, in the aisle across. We traded smiles and I returned to studying the dress in front of me. (Walk away, idiot, she doesn't need anymore dresses.) I took a peek over at the girl and saw she was fingering a tiny newborn sleeper, blue with little green swirls, pretty much as gender neutral as you can get. She had a look on her face, a small smile and sad eyes, barely visible to anyone who wasn't looking for it, before she dropped her arm and walked away, empty-handed.
I knew that look. I knew that exact look because that look was on my own face two years ago. I almost went after her. I almost approached her and almost said... what? What was I going to say? "Are you infertile? Because girl, me too! Can I give you a hug? Or invite you out for some wine and spinach dip?"
Maybe it was nothing. Maybe she was a girl, newly married, thinking about having that baby, because the weather is freezing and having sex sounds warm and fun and maybe we'll get pregnant! I'm shooting for a September baby! Why is it taking for-EVER? It's been like three months, zomg!
But I don't think so. I know that look. And suddenly, I felt a rush of emotion because two years ago I did the same thing. I walked the baby aisle of the department store, softly touching the little sleepers, holding the tiny shoes, and wanting to cry my eyes out right then and there because it was so fucking unfair and I didn't want to celebrate another Christmas without my baby.
I didn't want our tree to be filled with generic bulbs from Target. I didn't want our adult presents to take up all the space underneath it (though I did get really excited about that bean pot).
Me with a bean pot, circa 2014
No matter how much I loved my husband and my fur-baby, the truth was, there was a stocking missing and you guys, I couldn't deal with it. I couldn't deal that there were no baby presents under the tree or the fact that those handmade ornaments weren't hanging. Because they were supposed to be there.
Toby is still waiting for me to replace the stock dog photo from his stocking, so he thinks life is pretty unfair too.
Life is unfair, even though I have all these new toys.
So to those of you still waiting for your own miracle, to those of you who lost your precious baby, to those of you who are dreading this coming weekend... I see you. You are not forgotten.
To the women in the baby section, gently holding those little clothes and thinking it's just never going to happen for you: you think no one can see the pain on your face. I do. I promise I'm not just another mama out shopping for her child. I've been in your shoes. That same pain? I still have it and it hasn't quite faded.
This weekend when I set out Olivia's stocking Christmas Eve, when I help her open her gifts and take her photos and dress her in her Christmas outfit, I will think of you. I will think of you and where I was two years ago and how it's possible to have everything you ever dreamed of and yet still be hurting.
To the mamas without their baby this year, I know how much it hurts. I know the experience of losing a baby right before Christmas. I know how it feels to have your arms empty when they should be filled with lots of squishy baby. I know how hard this holiday can be.