Alice was born in the midst of a “baby boom” among my friends, family and acquaintances. It was so fun to see all of these women I cared about becoming mothers, and to feel like I was a part of this beautiful, magical group!
Until suddenly, I wasn’t a part of it anymore.
I didn’t have a baby to post monthly updates on. I didn’t have my little bear strapped to me on family outings. I didn’t have diapers to change at church. I didn’t feel like a mother.
I thought that I would feel the sting of my loss each time I saw an infant, but contrary to what I expected to experience, I have been able to find immense joy and comfort in these tiny humans. I want to introduce you to some of my favorites.
This is Alice’s cousin, Annie. She lives in the upstairs unit of our house and she was NUTS about Alice. Whenever she decided she wanted to get to her, she could not be stopped. She is a chunky little one with fiery red hair, an apparently loving heart, and can often be seen with a pleasant expression and nose wrinkle that will steal your heart. I love that since we share a house with Annie’s parents, I can still hear a baby cry every once in a while. I love the familiarity we share and being able to usually read her cues and meet her needs.
Norah is also Alice’s cousin. She is a dark eyed rainbow baby, who loves to jump and will greet you with a “Bah!”. Her little laugh, and gummy grin mask the fact that she’s super naughty. Her sleepless nights and temperamental disposition made us nervous to meet our little girl. I love swaddling her the way Alice liked to be swaddled. I love picking out bows for her and choosing her outfits in the morning. I love that she smiles when she recognizes me. I love giving her baths and changing her diaper and being her “other mom”.
Kason is Alice’s Bertola cousin her age. When I see him I remember how his mother and I tried bows on his newborn head while we made them in preparation for Alice’s arrival. I love to see him grow and grow and grow and never stop growing. (He is huge.) I am glad he would have been tough enough to beat up any boys that chased after Alice, because we all know there would have been tons of them.
Julia’s dad has been best friends with Dallas since they were kids. His wife and I were so thrilled when we found out we were both expecting and decided our kids would either be best friends or get married. Since Julia is a little younger than my daugher, she is now extremely similar to how Alice was right before she passed. I felt like a seasoned professional of a mother when I was able to give Julia’s mom the keys to getting rid of cradle cap. I also secretly love it when she spits up on me because it reminds me of my baby girl, and with her size being similar to Alice, holding her in my arms always feels familiar.
Maggie was going to be one of Alice’s best friends, and was her top pick for college roommate. Alice and Maggie never got to meet in real life since she lives far away, but the pictures of this little girl make me so happy. I love seeing my friend excel at being a mother. I love Maggie’s petite little features. They remind me of Alice. Her sweet smile and obvious bond to her mother warms my heart and brings me back to the connection and joy that Alice gave me.
This little guy, Rooney, was due after Alice but was born right before. I remember shortly after he was born, his mother posted that he had some health complications. My heart ached for my friend and I prayed that their little one would be alright. Seeing him healthy and developing well encourages me and reminds me that babies are resilient. He calms my fears about my future children. Watching as he learns new things helps me keep track of what Alice might be learning right now if she were still here.
I love these babies. They remind me of Alice and allow me to do “Mother things” again. Sometimes I wonder why it had to be my baby that checked into Heaven early, but most of the time, their innocence and vitality buoy up my drooping spirit.
If you have a baby, don’t feel like you need to shield people who have experienced loss from them. Allow them to be reminded what it’s like to care for a little one. Treat them like the Mother or Father that they are. If you aren’t sure if they would like to be around your baby, ask them. Make sure they know you will be understanding if they answer, “Not today”. Be sensitive. Be observant. I bet you will be able to tell what they need in that moment.
Babies are healing and wonderful. It is complicated and difficult to find your path after losing a child, but sometimes a little baby to fill your empty arms is just what you need.