There's a faint thud and then a loud cry from behind where I'm standing. Owen had lodged himself between the bathtub and the toilet, he slipped and out came the blood from right below his right eyebrow, his pure baby face was no longer pure. At ten months I thought to myself, it was to early for him so have a scar! As I began to chastise myself for being a bad mom, her car pulled up. I was running late and she and her son were already here. I ran out to the driveway to meet her, showed her what happened and started to cry. She tenderly reassured me that I was in fact not a bad mom and that he just needed a bandage. Okay, I can do that. She held Owen as I applied the virgin bandage to his eyebrow, and we were on our way. It was a Friday, we were on our way to "Movies for Moms" at the downtown theatre. It was a big deal for us when the boys were babies. We had an activity for the day, plus we could see a "grown-up" movie without the expense of a sitter. I looked forward to Fridays.
I met her at an ECFE class with my first son Owen. She was new in town and like myself, the mother of a six month old baby boy. We quickly became friends. Both trying to keep our days filled up so the common doldrums of first time motherhood wouldn't seem so lonely. We signed our boys up for a plethora of classes together, we had a standing play date every Friday, we started our own book club, we vacationed together, we talked nearly every day. We even managed to get pregnant with our second within two weeks of each other.
It was summer time, my due date was July 26th, hers, August 5th. We commiserated about how the intense hot summer days were taking a toll on our already overheated bodies, we spent nearly everyday at the pool, enjoying the weightlessness of the water while our firstborns went down the giant whale slide over and over...then July 22 came and so did my second child, Dermot Thomas Sullivan. Another boy, she mentioned how she hoped she'd have a boy so they could all play together, I secretly wished it too. A few weeks later, after a long drawn out labor, her daughter was born. Congratulations to us all.
We enjoyed our kids and our friendship. I thought how comforting it was to have a good friend and I could call often and know she'd be up for getting together or helping each other out if we needed it.
Then, I found out that Dermot wasn't going to be like everyone else. I remember driving home from the hospital, numb, I called my friend to tell her what I had just heard, she was the first non-family member I called. What was there to say, not much. I didn't want to hear much, she offered to hang out and help me forget, I appreciated that.
As I said, I was numb, that lasted a good three or four months, then came the flood gates. I tried desperately to hang on to my old self, participated in all of Owen's activities, brought Dermot along. He was, to all who did not know, "normal" looking. But I knew. I remember very clearly at Owen's Tumbling class, bringing Dermot is his stroller, lined up against the wall with her daughter and a few other little ones. I kept glancing over, noticing the how her daughter was grasping a rattle and shaking it with a enormous smile on her face, then looking over at Dermot and noticing his blank stare. I was officially unglued. I remember needing so badly some comfort as I tried to get through the class without the tears getting noticed. I packed up the boys in the car and started it up. Then the tears came, I couldn't hold them back any longer. Owen was in the back seat asking "mommy, why are you crying?" I couldn't stop. My friend stopped me in the parking lot and ran out of her car , she hugged me tightly. All I could say was "too many babies." I left feeling more alone and more different than I can remember.
Those next few months I was raw with grief. I was navigating my way through the land of special needs, meeting new therapists for Dermot, and myself. Meeting new doctors and firing the old ones. Shell shocked.
All the while, my friend would call almost everyday and want to get together. Although normally I'd want to, more and more often I would find reasons not to. You see, her daughter was reaching and exceeding all of her milestones. I wanted to be happy for her, but my heartache was too fresh, too raw. I wasn't capable of giving her anything. In fact I pushed her away. I knew I was doing it.
Why couldn't I tell her that seeing her daughter was too hard, that I felt like a crazy person when Owen ran off with her boy at the park one day, that it took all that I had to make it through the day without having a nervous breakdown? Because I didn't know either. I was trying to use my coping skills from my old life in my new life and they were not working.
It's been over a year since I've talked to my friend, I miss her every day. I'm angry at her for not sticking around, I'm angry at myself for not letting her. I know there are two sides to every story and then, the truth. This is my version.