I nuzzled my nose into the baby’s head, inhaled the sweet soft scent of his temple as my lips caressed his cheek. With a gentle sway and a soft “ssshhh, ssshhh, ssshhh” his crying ceased and he flopped his head against my shoulder. I don’t usually run to lift the crying baby; I don’t normally run in their direction even if they are not crying. I’ve always convinced myself I’m not a baby person and isn’t it just as well I couldn’t have one because I probably would have been rubbish with it. Unfortunately I’m living through another baby boom, ok not a boom; we have a 7 month old within close family and another on its way. Family gatherings will soon be baby central again and as was the case this weekend, what do you do when no one else runs to calm the crying baby? Yes I have to go.
I was relieved and pleased that I managed to sooth him as I’m always slightly worried that the baby senses my fear. The fear that reveals my lack of knowledge and experience with one so young, or the worry that they may come knocking at my closed and locked door of motherly desire. I got away with it this time…or did I? In those fleeting moments, as a couple of minutes passed, me cradling him, him gurgling contentedly and me lost in his presence, he managed to prise open that closed and locked door and seep into my heart. There he is now; haunting my thoughts on a daily bases “a baby how nice to have a baby, your own baby”.
It’s not really happened before, I’ve not allowed it. There was one occasion when a television story line got the better of me, can’t remember what but it had me sobbing uncontrollably for my loss. That’s a few years ago now and I’m careful, I don’t watch “One born every Minute” or anything like that. I can manage Call the Midwife but that doesn’t seem of our world.
So why now? Well in the early years of having my boys I was hopeful, full of wonder for the small beings that were now mine. Babies shmabies, nothing would really have distracted me from my young little family. Yes they were hard work but they were adorable and with their diminutive size they were containable even in their darkest moments. In passing recent years we haven’t had many babies in our lives. Now they are here again and all the wonder has been crushed and squeezed out of me and the horror of times still to come are very real and tangible. As my boys have grown in size, my hope has demised, the reality of difficult times now and to come are very much here.
Please don’t get me wrong things are never all bad and I love my boys with all my heart but as I clung to that new born that people run to calm when he cries, my thought were wondering. The new born that has a mum a dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles who all really care, I did think “What if..” “What if I’d had a baby that had been all mine, who was loved from the moment they came to this world.” “What would my life be now?”
But this sorrow is not just for me it’s for my boys too, What if they had been born into a family like this one; the one where everyone cares “what if” is for them too. Tink coos delightedly at the baby boy, his nephew, he is thrilled with him, feeds him, talks to him and tickles him under his chin. Watching them together this last weekend I couldn’t help speculate that no one would have been tickling Tink under the chin and cooing delightedly for him at 7 months old. I often find myself identifying things that my children have missed out on when I see a loving parent and baby together. I don’t tend to loiter with these thought it’s more a fact than a full on distraction. I’m sure the irony is lost on Tink, and I’m glad, for now the boys don’t see what they missed but for me it is a constant reminder.
So I’ve been a little in mourning these past days, it seems odd so many years on, but my slight sadness is persisting around the losses we have all suffered. Not to the point of tears and head under the duvet but more a poignant point in time, as our extended family grows and changes I need to be prepared. I need to think this through, come to terms that may not have previously been reached and allow myself to feel what I need to feel.
I shared a few of my thoughts with my brother-in-law at the family gathering this last weekend; I revealed to him my greatest sadness at not having our own children. I would love to have known what our child would have looked like, a combination of my husband and I. My lovely brother-in-law paused thoughtfully at my revelation and then said “that’s not a problem there’s an App that can do that”. Don’t worry it was a joke and we both laughed, a lot.