Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Soft, Warm, and Just the Right Amount of Heavy


Soft, warm, and just the right amount of heavy.

That’s how a day-old baby feels. I know, because I changed my mind at the last minute and went to the hospital with J to go see my friends’ baby. I wasn’t going to, and no one expected me to, but on Sunday morning, while J was on the phone with M to tell him he was on his way, he looked over at me and mouthed, “you coming?” I found myself nodding.

Maybe it was because their little boy had been in the NICU for 24 hours, and had only been delivered to their room that morning. He wasn’t in bad shape, but he’d been feverish and jittery at birth, so the doctors put him on an IV and monitors in the NICU and M and T only got to visit him a few times. For me, I think this humanized their experience. It didn’t feel like a fairy tale anymore, it was just life. I was so glad they were finally getting handed their new son. Finally, he was really theirs. I didn’t want to miss that

The visit was wonderful. I felt a little shaky when we got there, and I teared up when I walked in the room and saw M gazing down at his teeny little son, handling him as if he were made of cornflakes and would crumble with the slightest touch. But we got out the camera and started taking pictures, and T started cracking us up telling us with tales of her 15-hour labor, and M told us how his camera’s automatic flash had startled him so badly in the NICU that he’d dropped and broken his camera, and we made fun of him for that, and I ended up struck by how much these were still our best friends, the same people we used to stay up all night with playing cards and drinking beer, laughing our asses off, the same people that have been there through our miscarriages and frustration.

I didn’t dare ask to hold the baby while M was in the room. I just didn’t want to freak him out. He was hilarious—the classic nervous brand-new dad. He kept trying to tuck the baby into his swaddle, and the baby kept getting his arms free, and even after the baby fell asleep M couldn’t sit down, but kept checking every 2 seconds to make sure the kid was still breathing.

But the moment M went outside with J for a smoke (no smoking for J, though—sperm count!), T handed the baby over. So I sat in a rocking chair and held a day-old baby while he slept. And I’m crying now telling you about it, but it wasn’t awful at all or even all that gut-wrenching. It just felt so good. He was soft and warm and smelled like fresh bread. (When M walked back into the room and saw me holding his kid, I just grinned and said, “T says I can keep him. We figure you guys can just make another one, right?” Then I handed him over to J for a little while.)

I wouldn’t suggest that everyone should take the plunge like I did, but I’m really glad I went. J and I were the first people to see the baby, and it was so great to be with our friends at such an amazing moment. Instead of staying home hiding and feeling bitter, I got to laugh with my friends, celebrate their moment, and hold a soft cuddly baby.

I’m still jealous as hell. But I think that when you envy someone, you forget that they’re real people. Seeing the reality rather than the fantasy kind of helped with that. I don’t want their life or their baby (though he’d do in a pinch). What I really want is my own.

So rather than feeling defeated, I feel strangely motivated. Hopefully I can get my water sonogram scheduled this month and can get back into IVF in March. Maybe someday that person in the hospital will be me.

Damn, there I go hoping again.


Trish said...

aww.. *wipes tears*

I had the same experience with a friend of mine. She was originally due the same day as I was with my first baby. She invited me to the hospital when the baby was born. I was soooooo nervous about it.

I told her I would make the decision closer to time because I just wasn't sure what kind of space I was going to be in.

In the end, my husband encouraged me to go and I did.
I was so happy that I did.
When I got there, my friend had a willow tree angel and a card for me (I sobbed) but beyond that it was a totally happy moment. I sat down and fidgeted a bit while she was feeding. Then she said "you want her" and it was amazing. She was so tiny & fragile & perfect. It's really difficult to be bitter & jealous with such a perfect little creature snuggled up to you.

I did have a small breakdown on my way home. Sort of a wailing "I waaaaaaaaaantttt ooooooooonnneeeee" but it wasn't jealousy, really. Just.. well, I guess it was a really bad case of the baby rabies.

Anyway, I'm glad you went and glad you had a fulfilling experience. I truly hope that you are able to experience it all from the other side of the hospital bed very soon.

Working Girl said...

I have also forced myself to deal with certain situations I started to avoid. I always feel a bit shaky too! You know that wonderful feeling of "let me get the F out of here now".

But, the emotions settle and I end up having a good time. It always helps when you have a special connection with the people!

Congratulations on your courage!

Jen said...

You are more brave than I! I would've faked a migraine, or back injury, or hell...diarrhea, just to get out of that!

I hope it's you in that room with your little loaf of bread very, very soon.

luna said...

lovely post, I've been trying to deal with some of the same issues recently. I still can't hold them, but I can admire from a safe distance... glad you went. ~luna

Ally said...

I *just* had a similar experience. One of my dearest friends gave birth to her second child and I couldn't wait to go and meet him. But I was so afraid to go. Your post does much more justice to the tangle of feelings I had than mine did, but I know *exactly* what you felt. We had dinner with out friends tonight, actually, and it was so wonderful, and so difficult, to go. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

kate said...

Aww. Very sweet. I haven't had many opportunities to be around little babies of close friends lately, but I, too, get the, "I want one!" reactions when I hold the little dears. Or when I see an especially awesome toddler. Or when I see an especially crappy toddler.

I don't know. There are not a finite number of pregnancies doled out to the world, so I still feel happy when a good friend gets that kind of blessing.

But, yes. Babies are a lot like a fresh baked loaf of bread- soft, warm and just heavy enough. Lovely.

Pamela Jeanne said...

I came to your blog following your comment on Luna's post. Your words really resonated for me. I also read your last few posts and see many similar feelings. The last time I held a newborn I was also overwhelmed with the newness, the heaviness and the wonder. Yet at some level this same thought came to mind: "I don’t want their life or their baby (though he’d do in a pinch). What I really want is my own."

Io said...

I've read this a couple times and it is so perfect. Gah. I'm glad you were able to make it there. Even if it's bittersweet, the sweet is just so damn good.

Dreamer4agift said...

Good for you at being that strong and having a positive outcome to boot:)

Ally said...

This is a completely off-topic comment. That is in response to the comment you left for me about my kitties. Thank you for noticing their pictures on my blog. The little gray one was my first kitty friend. He and I made quite a pair and I was devestated to lose him far too early to kidney disease. The puffy white one was hubby's first and then mine, too, after we married. She was beautiful and sweet and we lost her unexpectedly due to a genetic disease. We miss them both terribly and it was sweet of you to notice and comment on them. Thanks!

Kara said...

That is a tough place to be, I've been there a few times and it does get easier (a little bit) each time. There is nothing like holding a brand new baby, the new baby smell, the noises - it's heavenly.

The car ride home is never fun, neither is the rest of the day. Lots of crying, lots of questions - Why do we have to go through this, Why is it taking so long, why why why?

Thanks for sharing about this, it's tough to admit the above stated but I feel such a kinship with those who posted and of course with you.


Malloryn said...

Thank you for sharing. I admire your strength in going to see your friend and her little one. Your post was beautiful. Two of my closest friends are due within the next two months. If I'm there, I hope I have your courage.