Thinking about the ones who aren’t

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Babies are lovely and they smell divine and holding them makes us all goopy. This day is a good reminder, though, of all the shades of loss around babies. Oct. 15 is the national day for honoring miscarriages and infants who died close to birth. It’s a painful enough wound when it’s fresh — maybe you see a joyful, very pregnant woman shopping for baby clothes and spend the next 40 minutes sobbing in the Nordstrom bathroom — and even odder when years later after the psychic scars have faded a bit, you crumple up a sweet baby shower invite and just feel like hurling it into the deepest sea. I know the horror of an incomplete pregnancy three times over, though I can’t begin to even imagine losing a newborn.

I’d like to add one more category to this day: The loss that happens around adoption. There are so many levels. To name a few: Loss of being able to conceive or carry a child biologically; the child’s loss of her original parents; and obviously, the loss of the baby and the chance at parenthood for the birth parents.

I see now that all the things that happened in my life, good or bad, stupid or clever, deliberate and accidental, all led up to me being Grace’s mom. I met her very pregnant birth mother, Bridgett, four days before Grace came into the world. Grace knows her story and her birth parents stayed with us over the holidays last year. She knows she grew inside Bridgett, but even at 3, won’t have anything to do with adoption books, even the heavily veiled one about the penguins (“Let’s give this to the library,” she said, after only one read).

I picked Grace up at school today and she handed me this picture she drew.

“Is that you carrying your doll? Or me carrying you when you were a baby?” I asked. Because, you know, kid art. Very interpretive, and I’m often so wrong.

“No,” she said, quite plainly. “It’s me inside your tummy.”

I gave some kind of modern mom answer. Still. There are no words. Today.

Peace to all you aching mamas and not-mamas out there. And especially to the one who brought me to Gracie. And of course, to Grace.

Vanessa McGradyThinking about the ones who aren’t

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