Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Other Baby

Brittanie at Loving Cora Rei said it well a few weeks ago with her post, “The other baby”.

You see, I was pregnant with one of my good friends, Julie. We have been friends since I was in high school. I met her at my 1st job. She ended up dating a friend of mine, Chris. We clicked & it felt like I had known her forever. We have been friends since. We may not see each other as often as I would like & life just seems to get in the way but I know she is there & am grateful for the time we do spend together.

She had struggled with infertility & I always tried to imagine how hard & emotional that struggle must be for them. I remember telling her I was pregnant with Janessa & feeling like I was stabbing her in the chest. She of course never let on to any emotional reaction she may or may not have had. We found out shortly after that she was expecting as well. We were due only 10 days apart. I was so overly excited for them. They had waited for so long for this & I knew they would make amazing parents.

I imagined all the play dates & the summer we would spend together after they were born while she was on maternity leave. I found out we were having a girl & I openly wished she would as well so they could be little best friends. It turned out that they were expecting a little boy. I imagined how we would tease them about how they would grow up & get married.

When we lost Janessa everything in our lives changed. Obviously all the plans we had were gone. I wasn’t naïve to the fact that I would have to deal with her pregnancy in a different way now. I of course was still overjoyed for them. I was also in deep mourning & grief. I could not attend her baby shower. The thought of it would put me in hysterics. I sent her a gift along with a letter with my mother. It broke my heart.

About a month later Julie developed INTRAHEPATIC CHOLESTASIS OF PREGNANCY (ICP). Due to this a couple weeks later she was induced at 37 weeks for the health of her & the baby. I remember being so worried for them. I had just learned how unpredictable life can be & how pregnancy can take a turn for the worse no matter how far along you were. Their son Dylan was born on June 26th, 2009. He was healthy & besides a short stay under an oxygen hood everything was good. He was also born with a “stork bite” & an "angel kiss" birthmark. We like to think it was from Janessa. My son was born with both as well in the same exact spots & we thought of his from my father.

I remember feeling so relieved & so incredibly mixed with emotions that I was not ready to start sorting through. It had only been 6 weeks since Janessa died. I remember thinking how I thought I had 3 more weeks until I had to face this.

I knew I wanted to go see them. I had already missed the baby shower, one of the most happiest moments in her life & I was not going to miss this as well. I knew that I was a mess but we were friends & I would have to take this head on sooner or later. I didn’t want to hold any strange feelings towards Dylan. I knew he would forever be a reminder to my Janessa but I wanted this reminder to be a good one.

We decided to take the drive out to see them at the hospital. I managed to take about an hour to pick out the flowers & ended up with a plant. I knew I was stalling…I knew I wasn’t sure about what we were doing. Before all this, one of my favorite things I looked forward to doing was visiting a precious new baby in the hospital. Things had now changed & I couldn’t imagine looking at/holding a new baby…who was breathing & alive.

We purchased the plant & headed off for the hospital. A little more than half way there I almost had my husband turn the car around. The silent tears were flowing & I wasn’t sure they would stop. They did & when we arrived we made it to the room. We then went to visit him in the nursery where he was still under the oxygen hood. I stayed composed & was rather shocked at how numb I felt. I would soon come to realize that this would be my coping mechanism for the long journey that stretched out ahead of me.

Dylan’s first birthday was last Saturday. I have only been to one first birthday since Janessa passed & we went late because I knew I could not handle the festivities. It was a little girl’s birthday & I knew I didn’t have it in me. She too was born while I was pregnant with Janessa. We went because the family was moving to Florida the next day & I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to say goodbye.

I received Dylan's invitation & the heavy feeling in my chest was there. There was no doubt that we would attend. I have made it through this past year & I could do this. I was good. I cried while making his card & seeing him try & tear open his gifts made me imagine what Janessa’s 1st birthday party would’ve been like. It made me ache for so much. But seeing him & holding him brought joy not pain. The last two times I have seen him he has greeted me a big grin that just melts my heart.

Julie has made her presence known & her support is there when I need to pull from it. Its been a comfort to have her express her emotions & willingness to be there through the darkness of grief. Especially when she is at her happiest time in her life.

At every milestone Dylan reaches I will see Janessa. As much as I would like to separate the two & will continue to do so, the connection can never be fully broken. I regret not spending more time with him over the course of the last year. I hope that things will change now. I seem to be fine with older babies. The real truth is I have only seen Dylan a handful of times. It really is hard. It is such a hard emotion to portray into words. I am not jealous that he is here & she is not. I am not resentful that their child lived & ours died. I do not look at him & harbor any unwell feelings. I look at him & long for Janessa. I look at him & see all that she should be right now. I look at him & then at my half empty arms & I feel & know all that I am missing.

You hold a special place in my heart


Kami said...

It's hard! I too was pregnant with my best friend. At her daughters first birthday I cried and she comforted me. I love her daughter and I feel like we have a special connection too. I am sure it will get easier and maybe soon you will look forward to those milestones in a way to compare and see what Janessa would be doing at that age. It's a tough road and I am glad you were able to go to his party it takes a lot of strength! Sending hugs your way!

Jen said...

its so hard to pretend like our hearts don't break everytime we experience things and days our babies should be..my very good friend has a little girl 2 weeks older then Ella and sometimes looking at her kills me, but other times its so sweet to imagine her walking hand in hand and being best friends..((sigh)) sending lots of love your way!

Linda S. said...

Touching blog as usual Mal.

Lisette said...

My niece is exactly 10 days older than Sami to say that it's not hard to see her would be a lie. I have only held her like 3 times. I feel bad but the pain just consumes me at times. I love her, I want the best for her but it is such a reminder of what I don't have. It breaks my heart. My brother understands (thank God) and I am sure your friend does as well.
I know with time it will get easier for us to be able to handle this. You are a wonderful friend!

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