As you look at your baby in your arms, re-counting his fingers and toes, admiring her long eyelashes, feeling the heartbeat, you look forward to explore the world with the new family member.
Can you imagine a life without your baby? No patting his back to hear him burp; no raspberry-blowing on her soft belly, or no tickling to hear his laugh?
As you pick your toddler to put him on his tricycle, laughing at her mess as she samples her first birthday cake, and reading the book “The Hungry Caterpillar” with him on your lap, you cherish the moments.
Can you imagine living without your toddler? No squeaky toys to pick up, no kissing ‘ouches’, no “good night, moon” reading at bedtime?
As you watch your son stepping into the school bus, kissing her trembling pout as she looks at the teacher for the first time, and his smile of pride as he gives you his test with ‘B+’ in blue, you’d think you’d never give up remembering those times.
Can you imagine driving by a school, no one to jump out of your car; no one blowing a kiss for you to catch; or no announcing losing the hamster during the show-tell?
As you walk to the mall in a mixture of excitement and dread knowing you’re going into a battle with your daughter over clothes again, paling as you open the cellphone bill yet knowing that’s somewhat expected, or looking on with pride as he scores a goal at the soccer tournament, you chuckle in fond remembrance.
Can you imagine not being there to hold her as she cries about her first break-up; not being there when he goes, “Mom…!” as he rolls his eyes; or not giving a high-five as she comes home excited, to exclaim she got accepted for the middle school basketball team?
As you tremble in thought of him learning to drive, arguing with her about her outfit on way to school, and dreading have the Talk with your teenager, you convince yourself that it is worth the entire struggle to see him become a young adult.
Can you imagine missing seeing her smile at you shyly in her prom dress, and, missing out on cheering as he opens his letter of acceptance to his college, or missing the opportunity to be there at her undergraduate graduation?
Now, you know that’s what you’re expecting as a mother.
Now can you imagine what it is like for us non-moms? Can you imagine what we feel as we hear and see your babies and the potential, knowing we are living without?
As you look at your baby, can you imagine living not having your life without a child?
Neither could we imagine. We didn’t expect that either.
For many of us, we have to live without children due to circumstances and infertility.
Can you imagine how you would feel if someone tells you, “you can’t have a baby;” “Your egg didn’t take in this 9th attempt;” or “After all that tests and interventions, I’m sorry to say we may have to consider that you cannot have children after all”? Look at your baby and can you consider what it’s like not having a baby?
Could you imagine how you’d feel if someone suggest adoption after you had already considered countless times, when we had asked the bank for a loan for the third time to be rejected, and when we went through months of home study to be told that the birth mother picked the other couple over us? Search your baby’s face and can you wonder the heart-wrenching frustration?
Now, can you see why it is heartbreaking for many of us, to even smile with you bravely, yet experiencing heartache? Can you see how we have to be strong, struggling not to break down in tears, as you look down at your baby and melt in his smile?
Hence, give her a break when your sister is not up to coming to your baby shower. Accept if not understand, when the friend does not want to experience living vicariously through your pregnancy. Ask, without presuming, whether that your cousin would want to hear about how it went for the first day of school or not. Offer consideration of visiting your child, “when you are ready” to your sister-in-law, instead of saying “oh, you can take my baby anytime” in a humorous way.
Be compassionate yet not pitying us. After all, we have to find our courage to live without children. Be supportive, yet not judging us. After all, we have to adjust to a child-free life and learn to live fully. Love us, yet not forget us. After all, we didn’t forget you, our friends, our sisters, our aunts, our cousins. We try to be there for you, but sometimes we need you to be there for us too.
Can you imagine doing that?