Friday, February 27, 2009

I Held a Baby

Yup, it's true. I didn't plan on it. It wasn't my sister's baby, my best friend's baby, or some friend of a friend's, but a baby boy whose mom brought him to work. Here's what happened.

I go to an all-day work meeting where my colleagues from across the state come together to complete a task--and a woman brought her 7-week baby. I'm drawn to babies, as I've said before, but I do lose it when I hear a baby cry, and I do tend to miss Caitlin more when I'm around babies. Well, there was some fussing and cooing and surprisingly, I'm doing fine, still able to work with my group at my table. No tears. Then one of the facilitators holds the baby and parades him around to each table with all the typical "oohs and aahs." I'm fine though. I'm not able to look up, because when the baby stops by our table he is is crying. I'm about to start crying when I get irritated. I have this conversation with myself.

"What is the deal? What are you afraid of?"
"I don't want to be traumatized by a baby."
"Enough is enough."
"So what do I need to do to resolve this anxiety and tension?"
"I need to go hold the baby."
"Really? Really."
"I am a crazy woman, but I'm done with how bad this hurts and I'm sick of the energy it takes to avoid this uncomfortable situation, so I need to go hold the baby and make this real rather than something I'm worried about."

I go over to the mom and ask, "Is it OK if I hold your baby?" "Sure," and she smiles at me. I walk over to the woman holding the baby and say, "Mom says I can hold her baby. May I?" And she hands me the baby.

It was quite lovely. And I start talking and cooing to the baby. The parade woman says something, but I'm not really listening to her. I say, "I haven't held a baby since my daughter." The woman replies to my thinking out loud, "Oh, how old is she now?"
Woops. I thought she knew I was a bereaved mother. I looked up at her stunned and said, "Oh, no. She's gone. My baby died at 11 weeks."
She may have said, "I'm sorry," but I don't remember. I went back to swaying and talking to the baby. I waited for the intense grief, some anger, aching, longing, sadness . . . none of those emotions came. Joy? No, not that either. It was just nice. My conversation with myself continues as I sway and stare at someone else's baby boy.

"Where are your emotions? Are you cold-hearted?"
"No, I'm fine. I'm OK. No sorrow here."
"Yeah, I feel kinda bad about that. Shouldn't I be traumatized?"
"Nope, I just feel almost nothing."

I handed the baby back to the parade lady who hands him back to the mother and I go back to my table. I sit down and one of my colleagues who knows my story and remarks, "Wow, that was a milestone for you." "Yes," I replied, and at last the tears flowed, grateful that she acknowledged my loss and sat with me as I missed Caitlin.

I wasn't crying because I held a baby, but crying because I wasn't holding Caitlin.


  1. so proud of you. You're amazingly strong. This post made me cry.


  2. Wow. This took a lot of courage to do. It's wonderful too how you were able to show us your thinking (and feeling) throughout. monitoring yourself, making sure you were ok.

    And Caitlyn is beautiful! I am so sorry she isn't with you. She was lucky to have you as a mom, even though it was for too short a time.

    Thanks for stopping by our blog earlier.


  3. No surprise that this has me in tears. Caitlin is so beautiful.

    I appreciate you sharing the conversation you had with yourself. You did it. You are brave. I am certain Caitlin is proud to call you mother.

  4. That is a beautiful picture of you and Caitlin. You were very brave and very strong to hold someone's baby. I've done it too and each time it makes me think of Jordan and how it felt to hold her and be with her. It also highlighted her illness as well. I am always amazed at how much a newborn can do and how aware they are of their environment. It makes me realise just how serious her illness was.

    Thinking of you.

  5. Such courage to do that. You should be proud. I remember the first time I held a newborn after Christian had died. It was an incredibly emotional experience.

    My love to you brave woman


  6. Wow, That is amazing! Not only to find the courage to hold the baby, but to do it with an audience. Good for you. I like your internal conversation too - I have those.

    How thoughtful for your co-worker to recognize the milestone and acknowledge it.

    I am proud of you.

  7. I can only imagine how difficult that was. How strong you had to be to go through with it. Thank-you for sharing with us. ICLW

  8. Another amazing post. Good for you - it was a real milestone and thanks to the friend who recognized it as such. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Those are defining moments in our grief journey. Yet, doesn't it just suck that guilt seems to have the upper hand? You know...we are weak if we break down but stone hearted if we hold it together?

    What a special step.