Sunday, March 22, 2009


There they were, walking amongst the fleece jackets, a young couple with a baby in one of those framed backpacks that you really only need when taking on Everest. Really, I heard the baby before I saw him, but my daughter had been chanting "outside" for fifteen minutes. He was just one of the noises in REI today. I'm not one of those babylost mamas who cannot be around pregnant women and babies. Maybe practicality prevents me from dwelling on other people's babies, or maybe it is simply that I want my baby, not just any old baby, but I think babies are keen, pregnant women beautiful, and families heart-wrenchingly touching. Still, when I noticed them in front of me eventually, after Beatrice ran off to baby bicycles with her father, my knees got weak.

It was her that made me want to vomit, run away, shake violently, take a generous shot of Jamesons. N. She was in my prenatal yoga class for months. She cried every Sunday morning when we went around the room said our names, how far along we are, what are issues for the week were. An architect by trade, I think she was having trouble wrapping her brain around this all-encompassing feeling of unconditional love. She was afraid. Every week she cried over a new fear. She once cried because she didn't know how she was going to be ready in time. And there I was, sitting in remarkable flexibility, like some swollen Buddha, saying "Pregnancy is a wave. Follow the wave."
"All the baby really needs is a boob, a diaper and your arms."
"Enjoy this time of expectation and planning."
"Revel in the long days of waiting, and sleeping, and relaxing."
"Be kind to yourself."
"You are doing everything right for your baby."
"Your baby is happy with just you. You cannot spoil a baby with too much love."

I virtually flaunted my laid backedness. I was so fucking cool. I was the only one in class who knew what it was like to have a baby and I had done it naturally at that. It was like I held some ancient secret that I wanted to share will all women. "If I can do it, you can do it," I said. "I was only in labor for 21 hours. It is a pain that is productive. It isn't like other pain." I was such an asshole.

And there she was, like I once was, with my husband after our first child, walking around loudly in an outdoor store, planning for our first hike, camping trip, bike ride...everyone listening to us. We didn't care. We were new parents, and our life wasn't going to change. We were taking the kid on our back and hitting the road.

I cringed. I slunk back into toddler wear, and began hyperventilating. Sure, I wanted to see the kid. I would have once run to her, drooled over her beautiful boy, told her how stunning she looked, how perfect her baby was...but I was completely paralyzed. Stunted. Immobile. Wholly inadequate. Instead of gushing, I wanted to tell them about Lucy. But I couldn't. I just could. Not. I mean, they were happy. Look at them, picking up expensive little onesies for camping, blissfully unaware that babies die because of nothing. Their world still had order, justice, kindness...I couldn't tell them that their baby was one yoga mat away from a dead baby. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror hiding behind a rack of clothes, trying to figure out a way to my husband and baby. I look so sad. So broken. So sleep-deprived and depressed. A person no one notices in the store. A person no salesperson asks to help. I hopped rack to rack until I somehow managed to pop into the aisle with Bea and Sam. He took one look at me, and said, "Come" and held me. He put the keys into my hand and said, "Go to the car if you want." And I thought, "Yes. I will run to the car." But I didn't. I didn't run. I decided to let fate decide if N. would see me, talk to me, ask me about my little girl. I am tired of hiding from people who are happy...she didn't see me. Too wrapped up in her own very loud new baby world.

Why do i feel so compelled to write about these moments? It happens to me everyday. To every one of us. Something that takes my breath away, reminds me of a before-time, of my ignorance, of my grief, of my dead baby in a more concrete way than simply the usual background chanting of "Lucy is dead". It happens so often, in fact, it is more out of the ordinary to not break down crying in public for one reason or another. But here was this woman. A woman so scared, so sure something was going to go wrong, and here I was so laid back, so sure everything was going to be just fine. Never again will I take anything so important for granted. Never again will I look at a pregnant woman and think, "Suck it up. It'll be fine." I was like some sort of twisted Greek heroine who told the gods that she was too smart for them to take her baby. I think the cliff notes of my life would summarize this chapter of my life as: Hubris killed Angie's daughter.

Maybe the moral of this post is simply: today I didn't run away from my demons. I didn't confront them, like a brave person, but I didn't collapse and run to the car either. Maybe I was supposed to remember my arrogance today. Maybe this is progress. Maybe this is something.


  1. ((((Angie))) The world is so unfair. Hubris didn't kill Lucy and worrying wouldn't save her. It just sucks so damn badly, no matter what the cause. And this dilemma really flumoxes me when i think of another pregnancy because what the heck could I do differently that might make it turn out ok?

  2. Even not having had a baby before, I was equally blissfully ignorant, overly confident. I am convinced its something our minds just do, to overcome all the many possible things that could go wrong. Hubris did not kill Lucy, but I know exactly how you feel.

  3. More beautiful words Angie about such a devastating thing. I had to face two 20+week pregnant tummies last week... Face them and smile and say how well they looked. They knew about Alice and when they said how many weeks pregnant they were, I almost vomited. I didn't. But when I slipped to the bathroom, I cried a little. Not too much though as I had to some out and back into my chair at the hairdressers. And hubris had nothing to do with Lucy’s death. Sometimes shit things happen. And they happened to us regardless of how excited, proud, delusional or hubristic we were. xxx

  4. angie, we all need to share these moments. they are our new reality. it reminds me of many months back, after our dead baby support group, we went next door to whole foods. one of the many places i had avoided and it's across the street from the hospital. but it was late so i hoped i wouldn't see too many pg mamas and babies. we almost made it out when right in front of us in the check out was a pg mama in my circle of 'friends, one i had never particularly liked that much. i instantly ran to the back of the store before she saw me- or maybe she did- and hid out by the olives until i my husband was by the door and it was all clear and safe.
    and you know what i was kind of a worrier, thought that going to the chiropractor might hurt the we can all find our ironies...i'm glad you had 9 months of coolness rather than worriness. and basically like rach said shit happens whether we are a cool cat, a worry wart or an asshole.
    sending you love

  5. This was me too Angie, and I also obviously don't have any other kids. And I have had a VERY similar non-encounter with a chick from my pre-natal yoga. She was also the paranoid one! She finished work really early as she just wasn't feeling well, all she did at yoga was complain about aches and pains, and here I was, a ball of blissful ignorance. I have seen her twice at the supermarket, and both times hid. Not run to the car, but hid. I figure one day she will see me, and if she asks, I'll tell her. Hey, I'll even show her a photo too, if she wants.
    And this woman had a girl. Typical.

  6. Wow... yes, these things seem to happen every day in some form or another.
    Yesterday, I was introduced to some old friends of my FIL. I had my two boys with me and I was terrified that she was going to ask me how many children I had. I haven't had to answer that question yet... not face to face anyway. She didn't. She just pointed out that her son has 3 boys..."can you imagine 3 boisterous boys?" she said.... actually, "yes, I can". I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the day.
    So proud of you for sticking it out... it's so hard.

    Strength to you,
    Lea xo

  7. hi angie-
    yes, i face this every single day. i was the one in my prenatal class that had aches and pains and was so uncomfortable. but, i also loved sharing about the hypnobirthing classes and the fact i was doing a homebirth in a tub. i felt so proud of myself for that one. look where that got me.
    yesterday i was walking with my sil & bil's and baby oren around my inlaws neighborhood and was stopped by a neighbor with a baby the same age as oren. of course talk went to how old, and all that other bs parents share. i silently stood there. cringing. wanting to talk about my baby too. how badly did i want to talk about my little silas who would have been 6 months. we left and i was so sad. its these moments that will always stick with us.
    thank you for your kind words on our blog. i too am so sorry about your lucy.
    sending love.

  8. You know, Angie, I was calm as could be for the first part of the pregnancy- so much so that my husband thought I had been replaced by an alien being (I'm a worrier by nature). Then I started to freak out. Then I calmed down. Then we lost him. I think it's just one more "what if?" that we try to make sense of when nothing else makes sense.

    Wish we were all still in the blissful-ignorance bubble- it was awfully nice in there.


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