Campus is full of people again, and the strollers are back. Babies where I’d never noticed them before, until last year. Babies in sun hats, outside on the mall, babies in slings and backpacks, inside the libraries, the food court, the administration buildings.
It hurts less than last year, but still, some days, ouch.
My SIL posts pictures of our adorable nephew, getting hugged by his older cousin, my adorable niece. They make me smile, these photos, but – oh! – they make me want. I should have photos like this of Teddy. He should know his cousins.
N’s sister is due in September, and two coworkers are due in the early spring, around the same time I’ll be due. I’m surrounded by babies, in strollers and in-utero.
I’m handling it well, but only because I’m hoping to join them. Otherwise I’d be an envious wreck, or more of one, anyway. As it is, having recently told people at work about this pregnancy, I’m back in all the right clubs. It’s safe to talk to me about babies again, and people are enjoying being happy for me. But I still miss him. And I’m not sure I belong in the right clubs, with my sad post-pregnancy belly being pushed out by my new pregnancy belly, with my precarious balance, my scars, and my tendency to say “hopefully” every time I talk about my life now.
I don’t begrudge people for wanting to see me happy; I want to be happy for me, too. But the relief in their happiness for me – I don’t know how to take that. It’s too much of a burden to be other people’s story of a happy ending when happiness is so uncertain.
If I’m out next year, in the beautiful autumn stroller season, with a living baby in a stroller (hopefully, hopefully), I’ll be delighted and grateful and humbled by my good fortune, but I’m still likely to say ouch. Even if my life is all smooth sailing from here on out (and what are the chances, really?) I don’t get to be only happy, not only happy ever again.
Ah, well. Who does? All of the fairy tales I love leave things unsaid about happy endings. What about all the healing and forgiving and grieving and growing that still has to be done once you escape abuse and neglect, reclaim your lost child, your lost limbs, your lost love? Happy endings aren’t only happy, either.
This is what I tell myself, anyway.