A couple weeks before Christmas, I was in Babies R Us shopping for three little girls.
The first was Madison, my goddaughter. Born on my birthday, she was going to be 6 months at Christmas.
The second was Molly. Molly was born a month before Maddy to our good friends, Hugh and Kim. Though they live in New York, I stalk their online pages regularly for updates about how they're all doing.
Finally, there was Maggie. Short for Magnolia, Maggie was born to Leo and Jen a few days after my nephew, Isaac, and she, too, was a premature peanut.
Anyway, I was excitedly filling up my shopping cart with adorable dresses, onesies and winter sets when a well-meaning woman nodded my way and said, "Awww, shopping for your baby girl, huh?"
I sorta glanced at her, but before I could answer, she again nodded at my stomach area and asked, "When are you due?"
Truth be told, it wasn't entirely her fault. I was wearing my coat and happened to have my gloves stuffed in the pockets. For comparison, here is what my winter coat looks like with and without gloves:
It might not seem like a huge difference, but in person, I can totally understand why someone might suspect I'm pregnant if they don't realize I've got gloves stuffed in my pockets, ESPECIALLY if I've got a cart stuffed to the brim with nothing but baby girl items in the newborn - 6 month range.
Anyway, I wasn't sure what to say. Honestly, I didn't want her to feel embarrassed, so I didn't correct her regarding my lack of pregnancy. Secondly, I felt the familiar rush of grief because it was another reminder that I would've still been pregnant (and noticeably so) with Myla and I would've been filling my cart with girly things for her had I not miscarried.
I chewed back tears. I physically chewed them back. I never understood that euphemism before, but stupidly standing in the middle of the store in front of a stranger who unknowingly stabbed a flaming sword through my heart, I physically had to clench my jaw repeatedly so I wouldn't lose it.
I somehow forced what I hope was a smile at her and simply nodded back. I then pushed my cart up a different aisle, took my purse, and abandoned ship.
I felt terrible that a store clerk would have to put back the cart-full of outfits I'd plucked for the girls, but I was beginning to feel suffocated. I couldn't have made myself stay even if someone had offered me a hundred dollars.
I haven't actually been back since that happened. In lieu of clothing and accessories, I purchased Maddy, Molly and Maggie a keepsake book that Vincent got for his first Christmas. He STILL loves it, and I hope the girls and their parents get to build just as many happy memories with their books as Vince and I still create with his.
I still feel kinda guilty, though, that I didn't put together the gifts like I'd originally wanted. This has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought I'd gotten past a lot of the super-charged emotions. Sometimes I'm perfectly okay. Most of the time I'm okay. It's those unexpected moments that pull the rug out from under me. I hate that I can't always control my feelings on this. I hate that it can (and does) spring up without warning.
But I guess that's just how love is. It's powerful that way, even when the love you share is with someone on the other side of the veil.
Merry Christmas, Myla. I wonder how you spent your first celebration of Jesus' birthday. Did you see the candle Mommy lit for you? Love you, sweetie. Always.
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