I was at a conference in San Antonio this week, and it was long and exhausting. After arriving home late on Wednesday evening, Thursday seemed like a day to take it easy. Ger and I went out to lunch at a tiny restaurant that featured wine and small plates. I had first been there years ago with a book club that I had joined when we first moved to Illinois, and many times since with friends. It was Ger’s first time at the restaurant.
We walked in as soon as the doors opened at 11:00. We were the only patrons at the time. The host sat us at a table by the window and said “Your waitress, Iris, will be with you in just a minute.” I started, ever so slightly, as I always do when I hear my daughter’s name aloud. Ger did not notice.
As we flipped over the menus, another couple entered the restaurant. Ger immediately smiled, stood, and shook the guy’s hand. It was his former manager from a job that he had left three years prior. After a quick “How is it going?” and “How have you been?” Ger suggested that they join us and we moved to a larger table. I was a little embarrassed, because I was wearing sweatpants and likely looked as tired as I felt after the days at the conference, but they were easygoing.
The husband reminded Ger of the last time they had seen both of us: it was at a Chicago soccer game in August of 2015. They had their two kids, and we had Theo and Quentin, and I was pregnant with Nelle. I remember their congratulations to us, but – as I had been throughout the pregnancy – I was hesitant in my response. Something, something did not allow me to be happy. “Finally got the girl!” comments were met only with a wry smile.
That soccer game was on a Saturday. Two days later, on a Monday, we found out that Nelle was growth restricted, and that started the tumult that ended in her death. After that Monday appointment, Ger told his manager that there was something wrong with our baby.
In present day, as we ate, Ger said that I had gotten to show off his baby at the conference. Both said “Oh congratulations!” and Ger laughed saying “No, no – not that kind of baby.” He meant the software that he had been working on for months, his “baby.” But he acknowledged, that yes, we did have a 21-month-old baby at home. I winced inwardly, wondering if either of them remembered the other baby that I had been carrying when we saw them last.
I drank two glasses of wine with lunch, trying to remove the edge that I felt.
We head into Mother’s Day tomorrow. A day when I have to remind myself that while I am so grateful for the children I have at home, that I am also sad for the daughters that I cannot hold. The day always brings a quiet reservation and much reflection. Much like my pregnancy with Nelle, and then my pregnancy with Iris when I was constantly in fear, I no longer feel truly happy on Mother’s Day.