I don’t like babies.
I don’t like looking at them eat, sleep, crawl or at anything they do.
I realized several years ago that babies annoyed me, but I just didn’t know why (after all, I have two former babies). And then my sons and I were at their swimming class. They must have been five or six and still thin and wan from their struggle to make it from their premature delivery at 26 weeks. And every other kid running around the pool did not look that way. Especially the babies. And there were lots of them.
I was transfixed by the rolls of fat and the ease at which they nursed. That they could go into a pool and yet they couldn’t have been more than one. They were so robust. And it was a horrible juxtaposition to the memories of my own children at that same age.
Each chubby cherub was a stark contrast to my children who weren’t even 20 lbs when they were two. Their first two years were sunken eyes, clothes hanging loosely, monitors, oxygen, struggles to eat, hospital admissions, medications, delayed milestones. Even now I see the shadow of prematurity on my boys…hands that will never hold a pen correctly, muscles that can’t quite relax, terror when we approach a hospital.
Babies are not so much reminders of what I have lost, but what my children can never reclaim. All three of them if I’m being brutally honest.
And so each time my friends or boyfriend or the acquaintance I’m with stops to chat and coo and often touch (as people do), it brings a fat, healthy baby into my line of site and it is like being doused with a bucket of cold water. Every time. I’m startled, flustered, and it hurts and I take a big breath and hurry away. Looking rude, but not caring. The emotion is indescribable.
It’s no one’s fault. And I can keep on task and forge ahead and put prematurity out of my mind as long as I don’t get that slap in the face from reality. A reminder of how much my children suffered and what we all lost.
That’s how babies make me feel.