10 November 2004 by Published in: in my life 1 comment

Over the past few months I’ve gotten a lot of “when you have another kid” comments. There seems to be an implicit assumption that since we lost one, we’ll obviously try and replace her. Most of these comments have come from friends, and all have been well-meaning, but what I hear when they say that is almost certainly not what they intend to say. They say “When you have another kid” but I hear “When you get ready to stick your hand in the flowing river of lava and pull out another hot coal”. Everything about getting pregnant and having another baby is painful to me, and I don’t mean physically, though my aging body is a factor to be considered also. The only thing that has kept Kurt and I from making damn sure nothing like this ever happens to us again is that we promised ourselves, and each other, to make no decisions for a year. We were both seriously burned by the experience and the still tender scars of it will go with us every breathing moment for the rest of our lives. It’s possible, of course, that we could change our minds. I know full well that I’m going through some pretty extreme grief and cannot really make any kind of decision of that magnitude right now. That’s exactly why we have postponed making such a decision. But if we had to, for whatever reason, decide today whether to have another child ever again the answer would be no, no, a thousand times no. Because we both feel so strongly about it, and so exactly the same way, it seems a little strange that so many others think it would be only natural to give it another go.

I’ll admit to being a smidgen conflicted over it. Especially in the first days after Simone died, I had a need so strong I would have called it a biological imperative, or possibly an instinct, to hold a child. I wanted desperately to rock a child, to nurse a child, to caress a child. My brain knew that this would not help or fix anything, but when it came time to get rid of Simone’s things I kept seeing them as potentially useful. My thoughts seemed a little twisted, actually, so I got rid of everything to compensate. I kept things that had little to no use, that could be mementos, but none of the hundreds of baby-raising things that had purpose. I’ve developed a near obsession with babies. I have to make an effort not to stare at them in public places, not to calculate their ages mentally and picture what Simone would look like now, what she would be doing, how I would be holding her. Babies have never held that much appeal for me before now. I don’t dislike them, but I far prefer children who speak in words, of about the age Sophia is now. Still, I am hyper-conscious of babies in public places these days. I want to touch them and coo over them in ways I never cared to before. I can’t actually trust myself to do anything like that, even though I know many parents probably wouldn’t mind. Imagine how horrified you’d be if you had a baby and a stranger came up and said “Oh what a lovely baby,” and then promptly burst into tears. That would be socially unacceptable behavior. I don’t know if my newfound interest is because my own relationship with my own baby was so harshly interrupted or what, but I find the intensity of my emotions disturbing and I dislike myself for having them. So I waver between greedily gazing on pudgy babies and forcing myself not to acknowledge them, all the while telling myself not to be so weird and disgusting.

I don’t want another child of my own. Despite the uncharacteristic longings I feel when I see happy people with their own happy living infants, I don’t think I have the physical and psychological strength to go through the process of having another child. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I feel less heartbroken about Simone, but I can’t see how I’d do a child a service having them as a substitute or a replacement for her. No other child will be her. I am having trouble picturing a situation in which having another child would be a good idea. It’s difficult, dealing with the unfinished business of raising Simone. I have this vast well of feelings that were never delivered to her, feelings of nurture and care that go well beyond the ever present knot of grief. It’s not tidy, having her wrenched from me before we really got to know one another well enough, but it’s the way things are. Starting up another relationship with another living being because I was thwarted in my relationship with her seems unfair to everyone involved. All the love I had waiting to give her is still hers, and because I could not give it, I must yet carry it. I cannot pass it off to someone else. Life isn’t a video game. I don’t want to push the reset button, to get another chance at this level, to play the game again as if the prior horror had not happened. I am hollowed out by her absence, but it is not a hollow I can fill with another baby.


Sun 14th Nov 2004 at 12:09 pm

Dear Grammar Girl,
Watch nomnitive form when you need objective form, i.e. "that has kept Kurt and I"

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