I’ve always found the way strangers ooh and aww over a stranger’s baby to be odd. Perhaps because I’ve never done it. Having walked the path of infertility, miscarriage (six times for that matter), then child loss (after our five month old daughter passed away), I have spent most of my adult life avoiding babies, changing seats or looking at the floor when I have to walk by. I can’t think of a single time I’ve found myself fawning over someone’s adorable baby, because for me, babies have only represented pain.
Now that I have a baby boy, when I walk by a crowd carrying my son, I am full of complicated emotions – a combination of guilt-riddled sensitivity (knowing someone else in the storm of infertility or loss may look upon me with the same hurt I’ve felt all these years) and pride (yes, he is just so stinking cute) and a tiny bit of fear (that they’ll start asking questions about how many kids I have or inquire about my non-existant pregnancy and I’ll have to tell them the entire crazy story).
You see, we often make incorrect assumptions when we see a family out and about. We admire them or judge them, without ever knowing what’s truly there. We might take it for granted that they’re the picture perfect family, when the truth is, we have no idea what scars are there, just hidden from our sight.
Out in public, people see my beautiful daughter. They don’t see the loss she’s endured. They don’t know she came to us a seven, unable to read, barely toliet trained, bringing with her a laundry list of incorrect diagnoses and a deep yearning for a dependable, consistent, forever mama and daddy.
Out in public, they see a married couple holding hands, not fathoming that we have survived six miscarriages, countless infertility appointments, ultrasounds, blood draws, and surgeries. They don’t know that we raised and saved $30,000, filled out hundreds of forms, and sat through hours of interviews, trainings, and meetings, to adopt a baby girl with a broken heart, only to lose her five months later to the terrible heart condition she was born with. They don’t see the ache, the grief, the sorrow that shaped us, scared us, and changed us.
Out in public, people don’t know that the sweet little boy across my chest was a gift from God, a boy born from a difficult circumstance, a boy with his very own birth family who loves him and us deeply, a boy who has been yearned for and prayed for. They have no idea he’ll one day have to reakon with his own identity. They don’t know his entire life is a living testament to Romans 8:28.
How do you begin to explain all that in the casual talk in the grocery store check out? To anyone I pass by, he is just a little baby boy, cute and perfect – but the truth is that he is a rainbow after hurricane, a testimony, a triumph, a beautiful climax to a rollercoaster of a story. He’s a miracle. He’s joy from hurt. He’s beauty from brokenness.
He’s so much more.