WARNING: IF YOU’RE FEELING RAW ABOUT BABIES RIGHT NOW, YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS. (I WON’T BE OFFENDED, I SWEAR.)
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.