Frightening. I know. (Once, Brian's mouth slipped and he admitted that while pregnant, I looked like "a blob." Harsh, but true.) Yep, pregnancy just didn't suit me. In fact, neither did child birth or breastfeeding, for that matter. I guess I just wasn't born to breed.
Earlier this week, I found myself in the lobby of the hospital where both of our kids were born (and, in fact, the same hospital where Brian, myself, and all of our siblings were born, too). Don't worry, I was only there for a work meeting, which meant that I didn't have to wear a mask or have an IV plugged into my arm, and that was pretty sweet.
The hospital lobby brought back a flood of memories. I remember being upstairs in that bed pictured above while my family and Brianne waited down in the lobby for some news. As if they were ghosts, I pictured them over five years ago, sitting on the waiting room sofas anxious to hear if our baby boy had arrived. I could see them laughing and joking, nervous and excited. It made me smile.
I also remembered back to January 20, 2011 when Brian and I walked through that lobby desperate to find out if we would have a little boy or a little girl. I was nervous for my second C-section, but I felt confident and giddy with excitement for the biggest surprise I had yet to experience.
When I drove away from the hospital earlier this week, I couldn’t avoid a sharp tinge of sadness that those memories also carried with them. Dr. Fasciano (my therapy lady) said something once when we were talking about the fact that I won’t have any more biological children. She said that it was "a loss" and I'm allowed to grieve it that way. I won't lie, I get upset about it sometimes, and once, I got really upset. But I don’t feel any persistent grief, I don’t think. If I stay healthy, we likely will have another child -- just not a biological one. But that's a few years away and I'm getting ahead of myself to plan for it now.
Today, there's something else that helps me feel better every time I get down about our loss. That something else is my best friend's baby boy who is due to be born in just a few weeks.
“Baby James,” as he has come to be known in our house, is already proving to be quite the macho man. Brianne’s doctors tell her he’s big, and although Brianne looks fabulous, I won’t lie – her belly is large and in charge.
I can’t even begin to explain how good Brianne and Seamus are to Brian, me, and the kids. Half of Teddy’s wardrobe was gifted by them, as was his first pair of sneakers (Celtics/Canton colors), his Red Sox play table, his first mini basketball net, his first cardboard airplane, and his collection of miniature professional athletes. Brianne and Seamus gave Annabel her most cherished Cookie Monster, her Rody bouncy horse, and countless adorable outfits, most of which are sports or dog themed.
Clearly they are generous beyond words. But more important than the countless gifts is the fact that they have spent quality time with our kids almost every single week since they were born. Brianne and Seamus run football games for neighborhood kids in the front yard, pitch countless baseballs to Teddy, and throw Annabel up in the air as many times as she demands it (which is a lot). They come watch Teddy play hockey, and they stay from start to finish at all of our crazy family parties. They cook for us, paint for us, and keep us laughing when we need it most. In the end, there’s nothing that makes me happier than the fact that Teddy and Annabel would boot us out the door in a heartbeat if it meant that they got a night with Auntie Woof and Uncle Seamus. We don’t have them babysit often, however, only because if the come over, there’s no reason we’d want to go out.
In a few weeks, Seamus and Brianne will become parents. That’s a huge transition, but I mean it when I say that the transition for them will be easier than it could be for anyone. Here's why:
Granted, I haven't seen too many brides right before they walk down the aisle, but I'm pretty sure that most of them aren't doing this.
You've probably figured out that Teddy was the ring bearer at Brianne and Seamus's wedding. After the wedding, we asked him what his favorite part of the whole thing was. We had guessed he'd say riding in the golf cart with Auntie Woof and Uncle Seamus (while taking pictures). But he kept it much simpler. All he answered was, "Seamus."
I think that the transition that I mentioned earlier involves the realization that once you have a kid, life really isn't about you anymore. The thing is, though, that Brianne and Seamus are both so innately unselfish that I'm pretty sure they've already achieved this understanding even if they don't consciously know it. It's just who they are.
In a few weeks (or less!) I will sit in the lobby of Brigham & Women's Hospital and wait anxiously for news about Brianne and Baby James. I may even take a stroll over to the gift shop and re-live my glory days. Then, finally, once the doctors clean the cheese off of him (sorry -- just one small inside joke for the mom-to-be), I'll hold the little man. I've got lots I want to tell him, including that he's one of the luckiest babies on this planet, and that, selfishly for me, he couldn't have picked a better time to come into this world. Then I'll immediately start feeding him the virtues of basketball over hockey. The Shuman kids may be lost causes when it comes to winter sports, but there's definitely hope for the Mehigans.