B is for Baby


1. a very young child, esp. one newly or recently born


I took the bus from Whole Foods in Montclair, down Bloomfield Avenue to the State Street Diner stop in Bloomfield. Sometimes I stopped in for something to bring home, I loved the old diner with it’s ancient cigarette machines, regulars that seemed to permanently occupy the stools and booths and waitresses well past their prime in heels, thick make-up, long nails and teased hair. Most of the time I passed it by and walked down to Broad street, made a left and headed towards home. I passed the library on my left and frequently made a stop there too. The college was across the street and I wondered what it felt like to just be a student somewhere.

diner corner

It was a mile from the bus stop to my door. My belly was just starting to harden but not yet sticking out and I couldn’t help but hold it like it might disappear from my body or be attacked my tire-iron wielding madmen on the uneventful walk.  I still didn’t know how I felt about the life inside of me, or more accurately I didn’t understand the feelings I was feeling.  I was pretty sure this was euphoria mixed with madness. I was up and down but surprisingly cheerful about it all.

I had found an agency, Friends in Adoption, up in Vermont. From what I gathered, it was run by hippies that thought adoption should be personal and easier than most agencies made it, for everyone involved.  I had received a pile of pamphlets from them too, but this time they all met my criteria and apparently I didn’t require constant counseling and a go betweens to be trusted to make a decision. I could contact these families as I saw fit, and having that bit of control felt much better to me.

I walked and thought about babies and families. I was not a baby person. I did not get all gooey and weird at the site of infants, I had limited interest in holding them or caring for them. They seemed like very needy, cute, wiggly, moist creatures that might eventually be human.  I liked older children more but had limited experience with them as well. All of the younger foster siblings I had, had were more like me and cynical by 4 or 5 and I could relate to them; most normal children were a complete mystery to me. I had even less experience with families, though I had been a resident within several over the years, it still felt like my childhood was a sociological study I made and not so much a true life experience.

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

I walked and held my belly and felt the faintest butterflies inside of myself. Was it the baby? I didn’t know and there wasn’t anyone to ask, but I liked to think it was. For this time, while my body did its thing and created another human ( and how bizarre is THAT?), this baby was mine and I had a secret I was trying keep even from myself. I loved it. It was like a perfect secret inside of me. I was at peace about giving the baby up, it was never a choice to keep it, not for me; but this part? This weird parasitic, brilliant, miraculous, shifting, morphing, awkward experience? This was mine and no one could have it or take it. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the after part, the crying, pooping, comforting, insanity of parenthood, I knew that in my bones. Not now, maybe not ever, despite how much I desperately WANTED a family, I knew I wasn’t selfless enough for that right now.  I hoped I would be one day. What I could do, was give this life a chance and share it with people that were ready. For right now I could secretly revel in every change, every shift every tiny butterfly, because I was giving this baby away to people that would make sure it was never alone I could love it now, wholeheartedly, and not be afraid. I could chat with, sing to and hold my belly and for a little while, and not be alone.