My five year old son led the way out of the restaurant where I had stopped us for lunch.
“Look, Mom, A little baby.”
My eyes drifted to a grandpa carrying an infant car seat. The cold weather cover was exactly as the one we had for our boys, a cinnamon brown Cozy Cover. I smiled and tried to keep moving forward.
“Yup, that’s a little baby,” I acknowledged my son. The baby’s tiny eyes peeked out of the hole in wide wonder like an owl in a tree. I was thankful I couldn’t tell sex since Baby was all nestled.
Proud Grandma overheard and offered up more information. “Yes, twelve weeks old!”
Oh my God, get me out of here. Just the day before was the mark of three months since Reece had been born. Ya know, like twelve weeks ago. Then it happened.
Grandpa looked at Dane, then winked and smiled at me. “Tell mom you want a baby like this at your house.” My breath caught for a second, then I inhaled and said it.
“We love babies. We were supposed to have one just like that, actually. But we lost him at 34 weeks due to cord complications.” Reece lived. He mattered. I won’t pretend.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Grandma said, caught off guard. We scurried through the doors of the restaurant and into our van. I buckled everyone in, and I turned the heat up just enough so the boys drifted off to sleep. I made my way through the city of Omaha, down one of its busiest streets. The tears came as the heartache bubbled up. Fast, heavy, up through my toes and out in shaking sobs.
I should have a baby just like that at my house. I should. I was supposed to. But he didn’t make it. No baby.
The next day, I sat down after an outside run among the group of preschool moms to watch my oldest son swim. I stretched a quad and talked about how good the sun felt today.
“Hey, how’s your baby?” A mom I didn’t recognize was wearing her daughter in a mauve Ergo. I smiled gently and inhaled again. Reece lived. He mattered. I won’t pretend.
“Our baby died.”
She gasped, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”
“No, it’s okay. Of course you didn’t know or you wouldn’t have asked. It’s really okay. We lost Reece at 34 weeks when he just stopped wiggling one day.” I could feel all the conversations around me tampering off to listen in. “We think his cord got compressed, and by the time we went to the ER, it was too late. He was born back in November and he looked just like Dane.”
I was pregnant. I was so far in my pregnancy that I was the topic of stranger’s conversations. At the store. In the gym bathroom. At restaurants. But my baby died. I am dealing with the fallout of that situation. Every day there are things people say that cut like a thousand barbs. Tiny and well-intented, but painful nonetheless. The only thing I can do is offer them grace and seize the opportunity to say my son’s name. Reece. He lived. He mattered. I won’t pretend.