I am, most days, able to be happy for people having babies. I mean, the alternative is for them to join us here, and I certainly don't want that. But this morning I learned just how precarious my inner balance is. Yesterday I heard that an acquaintance (friend of a friend, really, but I see her from time to time too) went into labor. She was overdue and was hoping for a VBAC. When we didn't hear anything by 11pm, we were worried. This morning, my friend Aite told me that the baby is here, VBAC was successful, all is well. I was relieved.
But it turns out that hearing that someone had a baby is not the same as reading about it. I saw the birth announcement online. I didn't even register at first what about it was sending me into a rapid tailspin. I had to re-read the whole thing to find it. And there it was-- the very first line, "We are parents of two kids now!"
So is it because I want to say "so are we," or is it because I will never get to write that particular line? Or is it because I feel like telling her that they have been parents of two kids for a while, and now they are lucky enough to be parents of two living kids? She is not even the clueless kind-- in the few interactions I had with her since A's death, she has been very nice and didn't say anything stupid.
Or is it that I am reading too much into it? That I am hearing a very quiet whisper there, "you only get to be a parent after they are born, you are not a parent of two," is that it? I know this last interpretation to be patently ridiculous, and not only because I believe that we each get to define our own truths about our understandings of when it is that we become parents, but also because, quite clearly we make parenting decisions while they are still in utero. Not to mention it was a birth announcement, not a letter to me.
But more than any of this, how is it that I can be so thoroughly undone by a line that I don't even register, in an announcement of the birth I already knew about, and was relieved to know occurred? Turns out, six months is no time at all.