I randomly got an email from a publicist recently with this photo of a pregnant Selma Blair. I looked at her dress, stared at her bulging belly, wondered how she managed to teeter around on the shoes.
I did not cry.
This is significant because even as of a couple of years ago, I could be brought to tears by a shot of a glowingly happy pregnant celeb. Real-life preggo moms would get me weepy, too. Once, during the year after Max was born, a coworker told me she was pregnant as we stood in a hallway. I burst into tears. Burst. Into. Tears. It was that bad.
It was the grief acting up and melancholy, too, an ache for that time when I was carrying Max and the world held only possibilities. I had no fear anything would go wrong with the birth, or with my child. My biggest problem was deciding on the right green paint for Max's room. I could never have imagined he would have a stroke at birth. I'd think back to Pregnant Me and feel sad for that woman who naively assumed everything would be OK.
I've come a long way. And I know it because this weekend, when I was organizing a closet, I found a folder labeled "Baby" from my pregnancy with Max. I hesitated to look in it—that, I wasn't sure I could handle. But I opened it.
There was a bill for an overpriced quilt set, the "Top of the World" design. Yellow, with little floating hot air balloons. There was a six-page list of things to buy from my friend Wendy, with notes like "Don't buy dress shoes/booties, they fall off." A Certificate of Achievement from the childbirth prep course. Instructions from Cryo-Cell, where we'd chosen to preserve stem cells that we would eventually use for Max. An article from American Baby on the best baby tubs. A note on registering for preschools (yes, I was that hyper-organized). Information on a college savings program. An entire folder full of hope.
I sat there on the floor, the papers in my hand. No flood of emotions washed over me. It was as if I had been on an archaeological dig and found something from many, many years ago, relics of a different life.
I'm not saying that time never gets to me. Doctor visits where I have to discuss Max's history are still hard. The other week, I went to see a new doc and I had to check off "Stroke in family" on a form. When she asked me who had a history of stroke, I felt the grief rise up. "My son," I said in a quivery voice, and the tears dropped.
The fact that the stroke happened to a baby, my baby, I still haven't gotten past. I doubt I ever will. But I no longer grieve for that pregnant woman I was, or for the child I did not have. That's because I am steeped in Max's present...and all the amazing that he is.
Full disclosure: I cried writing this.