The first has a pageboy haircut and the defiant attitude expected of a little girl with two older brothers. The second has the natural curiosity and disposition of a leader that comes with being the eldest child and protector of two younger siblings. The third, the youngest of the three, just turned five-years-old. She has an angelic smile, long golden locks and the confident, slightly demanding demeanor of an only child used to getting her own way.
These three little girls share little in common with each other outside of age but they each tug on my heart string in a special way that will forever bind them together. They were each conceived and delivered the same year to friends and extended family at the time I was giving it my all and then some in my last best effort at getting pregnant. My precious embryos, valiant as they were to make it to transfer day, didn’t go the distance but these precious girls — conceived unexpectedly — did. And what a reminder they are of what might have been.
I see them intermittently yet when I do I can’t help but study them closely and wonder …
How can I not? Their mother’s pregnancies are engraved in my memory. Their birth announcements and every milestone that has come since are potent symbols.
This past weekend I shopped in a store chock full of Easter delights carefully selecting what I thought would appeal to the youngest of the five-year-olds. Best guesses on my part as I only see this little one once or twice a year. She’s the cousin to my 11-year-old niece and eight-year-old nephew, each of whom indulge her with a tenderness that makes me proud.
I’ll see the other two spirited girls again soon as they belong to close friends. When I do I’ll fight the urge once again to imagine what might have been. To them I’m just Auntie Pam but the intense connection and the visceral emotions these three evoke will stay with me, always.
March 25, 2008 8:05 am
Such an heartfelt story. Your stories (forgive me for calling your entries or posts stories) are so poetic and appealing to me.
What can I say except- I know the feeling. Even more, the day we found out about my hubby’s diagnosis, it was the day we found out that his sister is pregnant. I look at that little girl like: she might have been mine…
March 25, 2008 12:13 pm
(((hugs))) I think all of us on this journey have children in our lives who will forever be the “measuring stick” for the ones who aren’t here. The little girl next door was born exactly six months after my Katie was stillborn. In my mind, they would have been best friends, & it kills me sometimes to see her running around with the other little girls on our street, or jumping & giggling with them on the trampoline in their backyard.
March 25, 2008 12:40 pm
It is hard to see, and live with, reminders of what could have been.
I made Easter baskets for my niece and nephews and delivered them last week. Kids really do remember the adults who took time to make them feel special. I am sure these girls think you are a fun adult!
March 25, 2008 1:24 pm
My heart ached reading this. It’s hard to see that hope and effort in someone else’s tangible form.
March 25, 2008 3:32 pm
I have a nephew who was conceived less than 4 months after we lost our son. Of course he was born and we were no closer to having a child. He is 2.5 years old now. I still have a hard time being emotionally or physically close to him. I hate to think that he picks up on it, but he probably does.
I think it is wonderful that you are such a great Auntie Pam.
March 25, 2008 3:35 pm
Which is more unbearable? Remembering, or forgetting?
You speak to my heart.
March 25, 2008 4:28 pm
My measuring stick was born two weeks before I threw away my bcp. Her mom had gotten preg on her first month trying, and I just KNEW that they would grow up being close friends.
Every birthday party I attend for her reminds me that another year has passed and we still don’t have a child ourselves.
March 25, 2008 5:42 pm
Indeed, how can you not?
My niece, cute as she is, is a living reminder of what I could have had. Mine was planned but did not last, she was a surprise that made it all the way.
Auntdom isn’t a substitute for motherhood, but it can be nice.
March 25, 2008 7:24 pm
I felt that way about my niece, the adorable and precocious Minx, for the longest time. She still makes me feel dreadfully wistful, but now that she’s four and very much her own little person, and not A Baby, I find it easier to relate to her and enjoy her company without feeling as if my heart is being skinned raw with longing.
I suppose we all have at least one, the baby who Is Not Ours in a deeper way than any other child.
March 25, 2008 9:37 pm
For me it makes the relationship with my younger niece and nephew bittersweet. I adore them, but the reminder of the invisible cousin(s) they *should* have is very painful at times too. Watching them grow and learn and reach milestones makes me proud and makes me ache.
March 25, 2008 11:08 pm
such a hard thing to face. there are so many measuring sticks among my family and friends from the years we’ve been trying. each one of them is tied to a certain time, effort or loss. it’s so hard not to measure our lives in these terms. ~luna
March 26, 2008 1:41 am
March 26, 2008 1:49 am
One of my best friends gave birth the very same day I was in the hospital having my first miscarriage removed from my body. I can’t help it, but it’s REALLY hard for me to see pictures of him, buy him gifts like I do for her other child. I feel terrible, but it’s such a raw and potent pain. Wishing it was easier to move past it and see, value and love the child for who he/she is without just feeling that black hole inside me instead.
March 27, 2008 2:36 am
You really drew that out well, cuz gawd we’ve all been there and stared thinking where we shoulda been.
March 27, 2008 5:03 am
A beautiful post. I have a number of children that I’m very close to, especially my 3 nephews who are all under the age of 4. I am crazy about them all and love them madly. Yet sometimes, in the quiet moments when I’m settling them down to sleep or reading a story, I wonder if this is as close as I’m going to get to having my own child. And that thought is so sharply painful, yet it does nothing to diminish my love for those boys.
March 27, 2008 6:13 am
Very beautiful words here… I am most moved by your strength, and your ability to even see them… I am saved by physical distance, I wonder if I would be able to stand it… not sure I could. You are very strong, my friend, and I admire you for that ( and much more! )
March 27, 2008 10:42 pm
I was pregnant at the same time as one of my SILs and we used to spend a lot of time talking about our pregnancies and plans. Her baby girl(not such a baby anymore) is 15 months old and I’ve never seen her. I’ve never even seen a picture of her.
March 28, 2008 7:40 pm
That was a beautiful and poignant post. We’ve all got those growing reminders of what might have been.
My youngest nephew was conceived during one of my cycles but he’s in Australia so it’s much easier to bear.
March 28, 2008 7:46 pm
Will the bitterness and jealousy ever go away? I ask myself that daily. I guess I am still “in it” so maybe it is too soon to expect some sort of epiphany, but it is still so hard, every day.