Thursday, April 2, 2009

Enjoy it While You Can

Perhaps we're just a little jacked up this week because we are staring Baker's first birthday right in the face, but I don't think so. It's more than that. We've encountered a run of people compelled to tell us, in conjunction with our "new" baby, that we should enjoy this freedom while we can, before the baby comes.

It is a harmless suggestion, most of the time, and we understand the sentiment. Life before you have a baby is carefree and easy! Everything from finances, to marriage, to sleep, and "going out with the guys." All easy!

And then the newborn comes, and you're up all night with feedings and changing diapers and oh boy, you don't know what you are in for, you babes in the woods!

The comments began when Dalene started showing. We knew at the gut level that this wasn't sitting well with us, though we couldn't quite put our fingers on why. It finally hit us yesterday, after a particularly egregious violator ran this line of commentary by Dalene. I was conspicuous by my absence, as we are normally together - I was in Boston having a drink with co-workers to celebrate the end of our fiscal year - a toast to surviving another challenging budget. So when Dalene said that I was out at a bar -she was bombarded with the inevitable, "Hey, enjoy it while you can, right?"

Everything that we have "enjoyed" in the past year has been almost entirely because our son died. Every drink that I have had after work, every dinner with a friend, every morning we have been able to sleep in on a weekend - yep, that's our prize for our dead baby. Yes, I know what you are thinking - we are damn lucky to have all that freedom.

It is hard to come up with a snappy response, but you kind of feel like saying, "enjoy it while you can" right back to them. Enjoy your living children. Enjoy their laughter and their tears. Enjoy being woken up at 2 AM with projectile vomiting. Enjoy a bowl of cheerios dumped on the cat. You know what - fucking enjoy it all, because the alternative is so horrible, so unspeakably empty and cold and hollow, that you wouldn't know the first damn thing to do with yourself.

And then some people, mostly parents, want to start giving advice about traveling with young children, and daycare, and lord knows what else, as though this is our first child, and we have never thought about any of this before. And then, you want to say, "Remember our baby who died? Remember how we finished the nursery, stocked up with diapers and butt paste and onesies and took CPR class and bought life insurance? Remember how we planned out precisely when and where to get Baker's passport, and what we were going to pack on our family trip last year to Antigua? Remember how we have already visited a daycare, already know the staff, know the schedule, have it all worked out? So yes, our sweet baby is dead, but we are parents, and we have seen that movie, and read that book, and damn it, most of the time I feel like more of a parent than you ever will."

But I don't usually say those things. At least I haven't yet.

I guess we just roll with these things - as with everything else, the people with the emotional intelligence to understand our pain are the people that we grow closer to and those that reveal that they lack the human empathy gene, well, they should enjoy that while they can.


Samaria said...

Wow I love those comments from people and their unwanted advice. I have written this before but this adds to my list another reason I've stuck to my house for the most part. People want to act like my child never existed. it sucks.`

Hope's Mama said...

Oh Chris, yes yes yes yes yes! I too have done it all before. Befriended the daycare staff, bought the pram, set up the nursery, stocked up on nappies, thought about where I might send bubs to school. Then life crapped on us. When we get to you are, to do it all again, I can only imagine we will get these same idiotic statements. The thing is, I hated them enough the first time around. Like we had NO idea a baby would eat up a lot of our freedom. Like we had NEVER considered the fact it might be hard to eat out, go see a band or have some drinks after work. We'd done that for ten years already, now it was baby time. Time to hand ourselves fully over to a little person. I just hope we are both much luckier the second time around, as you are right, the alternative is just so damn bleak, it is not worth thinking about.
Hang in there.

bir said...

Oh, you've really hit the nail on the head. I remember getting all of those 'enjoy it while you can' comments when we were expecting Ciaran. Now I can't wait to be expecting again. And I expect we'll get alot of that 'enjoy it' comments happening again. And how horrid am I going to sound when I tell them that the only reason we get to 'enjoy any of this' past x amount of time is because our son died. That should stop their innocent, well meaning comments in their tracks.
Hmmm. I'm not enjoying any of this time. I'm biding time. Until I can have a real, live 'take home' baby with me. And then I will enjoy and cherish the sleepless nights, the projectile vomits, and cheerios on the cat!

Reba said...

I absolutely detest those comments, too. We've lived the life after baby(ies) that's so silent, so horrible, and so filled with empty space and time. Yes, go on and tell us how dog-tired we'll be, how much our house will smell like baby shit, how the crying will grate on our nerves, how painful nursing will be...and we silently reply, Yes, we are looking forward to all that. We have lived without that for the past year. Out loud, we just agree.

Don't even get me started on people talking about "when you go through labor." Right. Been there, done that, just about a year ago. And since it feels like it happened just yesterday, we haven't even forgotten it yet, not even a little tiny bit.

Lani said...

i hate that we can sleep late, that we have freedom to do what we want whenever we want to. i hate it so much. i hate that i can drink beer & wine and stay out late. i just don't know how to be right now, in this limbo place. these people have no clue.

i've been thinking about you both a lot this week. there must be more emotions going on then you know what to possibly do with.we shall light a candle tomorrow for your precious little boy. xo

Tash said...

AMEN. Sing it.

I gotta tell ya, what really gets me is when *I* find *myself* saying things like, "Wow, no way I could've done this with two kids."

And then I wonder why on earth that went through my mind and what exactly I'm to do with it.

Aurora said...

I'm a fellow Pregnancy and Birth Loss poster from MDC and I felt the need to comment. This is so incredibly poignant. It's such a clear picture into what most people can never imagine. You have every right to your feelings and while people usually have the best intentions, I wonder how they can speak with their feet down far in their throats. If people had any idea...