I just returned from a week in Hawaii. I went with my husband’s 15 year old sister, Jackie, to visit their other sister, Jenn. Her husband is an officer in the Marines and they are stationed on Oahu. He is currently deployed to Vietnam so Jackie and I spent a week with Jenn and our nephew Straton, who is 3, and our new niece Lyla, who is now 6 weeks old.
We planned this trip months ago, back when I was still happily pregnant. I was so excited, Hawaii is one of my favorite places, I vacationed on the big island growing up, and we went to Kauai for our honeymoon. I was thrilled to get to see another island. I also adore both of my sisters-in-law, and was eager to meet my new niece and spend some time with my nephew. After our loss, I decided I still wanted to go, but I was anxious about how hard it might be to spend a week living with a newborn baby and a 3 year old. I feared it would be too painful, too upsetting, and too hard, considering when I see babies out in public it still stings a little, and I often have to turn away rather than smile at them like I used to.
But, it was fine. It was more than fine, it was amazing. Our first day there, we went out to lunch at a local burger place and then went out for frozen yogurt. Jenn is adorable and sweet, it’s always good to spend time with her, and Jackie idolizes her big sister so she was in heaven getting to be around her. Straton was shy and wary of us, he’s only been around us a few times in his short life, and I’m sure he doesn’t remember who we are. But by the time we got back to their house, and after he opened up the gifts of toys we brought him, Straton warmed up and we were his new best buddies. He remained excited and happy around us throughout the rest of the trip.
We spent most of our time there just hanging out around the house or out shopping. Most days we went out to lunch and then came home for dinner. We went to the beach twice, and Jackie and I went to Pearl Harbor. I was happy to be a part of this little family, hoping I was helping Jenn with the kids and loving seeing what my life might be like if I were a stay-at-home-mom like I’ve always wanted to be. It showed me what I want, reminded me of what I don’t have yet but what I’m working and waiting for. Even when Lyla was screaming and Straton was throwing a temper tantrum, I still felt like I was in paradise, and not just because we were in Hawaii. I want that life. I want a baby to hold and feed and love more than anything, a child to call my own.
As I explained to her, being there didn’t sadden me. On top of giving me a pleasant look at what I am dreaming of and showing me that I really want it, with all the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it, I think my sister-in-law and her husband are good people, great parents, and truly deserve the joy they have. Though I have to admit I have some jealousy towards all the women out there who are blessed with children, I get more upset and angry and sad when I hear of or see women who don’t seem to deserve or even want the children they have. I know it’s not up to me to determine who gets kids and who doesn’t, and I know I cannot and should not judge other parents, but when I see people who are neglectful and dismissive of their kids, who smoke or drink heavily while pregnant, who hate being moms or have kids they never even wanted, I get more upset and jealous than when I see beautiful, functional families like my in-laws. For all the sacrifices they make for our country, I feel that they deserve the utmost happiness and joy and I am glad that they have been blessed with 2 beautiful healthy babies. I just hope that I can give them some cousins soon!
So, I didn’t cry, even when I realized I was staying in the new baby’s nursery, or when I tried on the maternity clothes my sister-in-law insisted I take home with me. I didn’t cry when Straton decided it was a really funny joke to greet me as “Mommy!” every time he saw me, or when I held baby Lyla in my arms and she turned her face towards my chest and tried nursing through my clothes, expecting me to be able to feed her. I didn’t cry when Jenn showed me the baby book she’d started for Lyla, with all the ultrasound pictures that reminded me of the six terrifying, tragic ultrasounds I had, all of which showed my lifeless child, unmoving on the screen.
I did cry once alone at night, but not because of them, or because I was there, just because I missed my baby. I always miss my baby. I always will.