Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bye, bye baby group

Today was my last day with Elizabeth at baby group. She'll age out before we are able to get there again. Four months next week.

The woman who runs the group has been asking people how they've changed since their first visit to the group. How have I changed since I first went with Elizabeth? I'm more confident, more adept (mostly) at managing the needs of two children. I'm sleeping more, getting out of the house more. That wasn't my first thought though.

How have you changed since you first came to the group?

My mind went back almost four years to a very different me, to a me who just wanted to be a "normal" mom. I was there with Henry and his oxygen and my fears of surgery and my lists of appointments. I was there with my anger that my baby was born sick and taken away from me before I held him. I was there, clinging to shreds of normalcy and what I expected, feeling all the while like an outsider.

How have you changed since you first came to the group? 

I've learned that having a sick baby isn't the worst thing. I've learned that rather than being strong I'd rather not be tested. I've learned what it is to say goodbye to your baby forever.

I went back with Kathleen. I was awkward, unsure how to talk about Henry, about his life or death. I went back seeking normal again. I was there with a healthy baby, but I was mired deep in grief there at the beginning of year two without Henry.

How have you changed since you first came to the group? 

I've learned how to talk about all my children to people who might never know I have a baby who died. I've learned how to let that be part of my story.

I went back with Elizabeth to have a little focused time with her. I went because I needed to go back to see how far I've come. I needed to see if I could be around other mothers more easily now.

How have you changed since you first came to the group? 
Three and a half years after I first came to the group, I'm relaxing a little into my role. I'm getting used to meeting the needs of two little ones and holding and talking about the one who isn't here. I'm happier and sadder. My heart has a hole that will never fully heal and yet it is so full. 

As I left, today, I thanked Maria for encouraging me and making a safe place for me to talk about Henry, especially when I went with Kathleen and was fumbling and figuring out how to do it. I left feeling good about doing this with all my babies, marveling that Elizabeth will be four months old next week, smiling in the sunshine on the first real spring day we've had.

I drove by the cemetery. My baby is there. I have a baby who died.

That still catches me off guard sometimes.


  1. I drove past the cemetery today as well. Still always catches me off guard, and I don't even have to stop and go in.
    This post made so much sense to me.

  2. I love the bittersweetness of this post - you capture the moving forward and looking back of it all so well. What I love about the way you write about change here is that it's so clear that the changes don't happen all at once, that change is ongoing.

    Love to you and your girls, and your boy.

  3. This is so gorgeous, Sara. How far you've come! Like Erica I love the bittersweetness of this post. (I think this would be a lovely essay, as well, if you wanted to write more.) I'm so glad I know you!

    And I'm so glad you're running! Thank you for your recent comments over at Mother Words!

  4. Erica, I've been thinking about your comment about change being ongoing. It reminded me of my own realization that letting go is not a one-time event, but an on-going process. I feel another piece of letting go coming on.

    Thanks, Kate. Someday I will have (make) the time and energy to develop this into an essay.