I can usually handle the baby section in stores. I can celebrate baby boys. I even held a baby girl yesterday. But sisters together send me over the edge. That and E's current baby obsession.
This week she went carefully up to my friend's baby girl and just looked so intently. She touched her teeny, tiny baby hand gently and I had to look away. Later that night this friend did what so many are afraid to do and it was perfect. She brought up what was happening:
"[E] is too cute! And she is so gentle with H. I love the way she looks at her. And I don't want to make you sad but I always think that is how she must have looked at baby V. She is such a good big sister even though she can't smile at her little sister in person.
I never want to bring these things up with you because I'm just not sure how much you want to talk about V when you are trying to focus on E (and just getting through the day... and remembering to breathe). I honestly cannot imagine how you must feel. I had trouble conceiving and it used to break my heart when I would hear about friends getting pregnant or new babies being born. And that was just feeling the loss of something, someone I hadn't yet met. Your loss is one million times harder. You are a very strong, brave woman and a wonderful mother to your two precious baby girls."
"First of all, I need to thank you for acknowledging the situation. I think often times, friends want to avoid bringing up V in case it will make me sad, which it might, but it makes me even sadder to not have the opportunity to talk about her. I have seen that look of understanding in your eyes as E touches H's tiny hand and I just know you know and you care. So thank you.
I will admit that more than anything seeing E interacting with a baby, especially a girl baby around V's age...well, I don't know how to describe it. There is nothing more painful. It is one thing to constantly try to navigate my own grief, but it is a whole separate entity to grieve what E has lost. I also have to consider what she understands now, what she will understand later (when we bring another baby home hopefully and she starts asking why baby V never came home), and how her life will always be colored by that loss.
That being said, while I might have to turn away for a moment and breathe, I am desperately fighting the urge to avoid the situation because I love you and I don't want our friendship to be altered because of my ability or lack there of to deal with something you certainly can't help or change or control.
Thank you for giving me this chance to be honest and get it all out. I love you."
So while they are posting pictures of their beautiful girls, E is blowing bubbles over V's stepping stone and I am desperately trying to let that represent the pictures I can never take of my two together.
If you are a mother who lost a child, would you rather someone acknowledge your pain rather than keep it silent? If you are a friend of someone grieving in any way, I think the best thing you can do is say out loud what you are thinking. Most likely, your friend will be glad you've opened the flood gates and given them permission to share with you.