A few years ago I thought I wanted to be a CNA (certified nursing assistant). I took the courses I needed and did my hours in an assisted living facility. I really loved it there and came to adore many of the people. This isn't about all the stories I have to tell about that place -which I have many- but of one lady there. One lady that confused my whole world. I wish I could remember her name but I can't. I can picture her face though. Curly hair and a funny demanding voice. That isn't what made her unique. What made her special was that she carried around a baby doll.
Yes, she was probably in her 60's or 70's and carried around a little doll. She said that this was her little boy and truly believed it. Some of the CNA's and nurses played along while others made fun of her for it and a few just ignored it all together. Some even decided that it was unhealthy and wanted to take the doll away. This lady had clothes for the baby doll and wore him in a carrier. She refused to do anything unless her baby was in the room with her. Even when she showered she had to have him right outside the shower to know that he was safe.
Never quite understanding where she came from I am sad to say I ignored it. I thought she was strange and didn't understand. I adored this lady and loved talking to her but I didn't understand why she would want to pretend this doll was her son. One nurse was especially kind to her and helped her bathe her baby in the sink. I watched both ladies gently wash the babies head and put the tiny clothes back on him. Amazed by how kind the nurse was to the lady everyone thought was crazy I asked her why she helped her. She told me that many years ago in life the lady's baby boy had died and when she had the beginning stages of Alzheimer's she forgot that the baby had died and kept asking for him. She would cry because she thought someone took her son. I believe it was her grown daughter that gave her this baby doll so she would stop crying and sleep through the night. The lady grew to love this baby like it really was her son so she kept him. It soothed her and mended her heart. It was that baby doll that helped her live.
Strange thing is I never truly understood why she could think the baby doll was real. Why she would want to live a "lie" and why would her family be okay with it. After losing Riley in May and the twins my arms truly ache wanting to hold a baby. Just any baby to hold and rock them for a moment to pretent that my babies are safe in my arms. To close my eyes and pretend for a moment that my heart isn't broken and life didn't turn out this way. I know that they are safe in the arms of Jesus but that doesn't heal my broken heart.
I may get some flack for this but I can understand why she wanted and needed the baby doll. In a moment of frustration and sadness a few nights ago I stuffed a pillow under my pajama shirt just to see what I would look like right now if I was still pregnant with Riley. I broke down in tears feeling crazy and missing something that never was. Half of me is embarassed to tell something so personal and the other half just wants to be honest with people. I don't allow myself to have these "crazy moments" often but they do happen. The heart ache of not having your baby in your arms is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. If pretending is what kept her going in her old age then I don't see a problem with it.
People look at me like I am crazy because I named my "miscarriages." I probably get made fun of like the lady with the baby doll. There are people who support me and people that make fun of me and mostly people that ignore me. That is okay with me. Naming my babies, yes they were real living itty-bitty babies, is what has helped me heal. When I can refer to them by name it helps my heart a little bit. It is the moment of confirmation that my babies were real. When months and years go by and people forget that they were ever here, I will always remember. I will always remember my first three babies, no matter how little they were. If you ever remember my babies just let me know. I promise that hearing their name will not make me sad, it will make me feel better because it is terribly hard to be a mother when you have no baby in your arms.
How can the same sound bring so much joy and so much pain, to the same heart, in the same breathe?A newborn’s cry. A toddler’s laugh. A mother’s scold.Empty arms ache at the soundJoy for you, with youPain for me, hope deferred, desire denied The empty arms of a barren wombEmpty arms that laid Baby in a graveEmpty arms of life lost before it began...Empty arms of choiceless singleness You grumble about the kids you’ve gotI weep inside for the child I’ve lostI distance myself, from you, from hurtHating myself, wishing I could give morePlastered fake smile pains face and heartI keep silent, believing you wouldn’t understandThe pain, the joy, the desire, the grief Am I the only one that struggles this way?Does anyone know the volatile emotions I hide?Will the grief, the longing, the pain ever end?Where can I find healing, wholeness, hope? There at the cross of Jesus ChristI see arms stretched out, open wideEmpty armsEmpty arms like mine Empty arms offering comfort in griefEmpty arms providing forgiveness for sinEmpty arms bringing healing and wholenessEmpty arms with power to unlock the wombEmpty arms giving love for loneliness, hope, joy, peaceEmpty arms exchanging death for life Christ’s empty arms are open to youTo fill your empty arms. --unknown