For a brief moment, we had parallel lives. I saw her in October, just a month after losing Nelle. She’d recently had two miscarriages, back-to-back, at 5 weeks both times. We cried together over our losses. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, a decade ago. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid in hers, but my due date with Theo conflicted. Instead, I attended the ceremony when my baby was barely two weeks old. States and years apart didn’t matter: together, it was like no time had passed.
Then there was the phone call to touch base. And the revelation that she was 9 weeks pregnant and I was 8 weeks pregnant. Exactly 7 days apart. Our babies could share a birthday! I could share my pregnancy wisdom from my previous experiences. We shared additional phone calls and texts about our milestones and continued fears. We both made it through the first trimester. She was having a boy. I was having a girl. I debated sending her all of the adorable boy baby clothes I had lovingly tucked into labeled totes, but I held back. I still couldn’t – just in case.
Then she hit 17 weeks pregnancy. And I lost my baby.
We didn’t talk for a long time and I was a bit grateful. I was so happy for her, but she was a reminder. A constant reminder of where I should be.
She called me. She wanted to let me know that the invitation to her baby shower was in the mail. She did not want me to be excluded. I was grateful again, for her thoughtfulness, as it would take the sucker-punch out of opening the envelope. I choked on my own tears as I told her that I couldn’t attend. It would be too hard. I put it out of my mind.
I saw the photos from the shower. She was holding a gift for her baby boy: a stuffed giraffe. We have the same giraffe in our house. It belonged to Quentin, and he had decided he wanted to give it to Nelle. It sat on the dresser that had already been filled with baby clothes when we lost her. The giraffe was packed away with the other baby things. I thought I would give it to Iris. Then we lost her too.
The giraffe is still tucked away with the baby things. The giraffe, the baby shower, and my dear friend are all painful reminders of where I should be.