Last Sunday, Mike and I took a day trip with our friend to Leu Gardens in Orlando. If you have never been there (like me) and you're in the area, you should stop by. It's beautiful. Winding trails through gorgeous trees and cultivated gardens. Last week's adventure included the annual plant sale, where local vendors set up booths for people to purchase flowers, herbs, and other plants for their yards and homes. The weather was perfect. Fairly clear skies, mild temperature, gentle breeze. It was destined to be a great day. Except for one thing. The enormous amount of pregnant women walking around the gardens - along with an even greater amount of couples pushing strollers.
Knowing my due date was late March, the one activity that always stuck out in my mind throughout my pregnancy was pushing a stroller with Mike along the sidewalks of art festivals, parks, or the zoo. I imagined the fresh, spring breeze blowing through my hair as I gazed down at my darling little girl, securely buckled in her stroller, her chubby legs peeking out from her pink floral onesie. I imagined being laden with all of her baby items, her diaper bag slung over the handle of the stroller. I pictured the knowing glances and smiles from strangers as they saw the young couple enamored - and a little overwhelmed - with their first baby. Of all things I imagined of my life with Kenley, this is the event that always was in the forefront of my mind. To be at the gardens without her in my belly or my arms was too much for me. Everywhere I looked, there was another woman waddling around with her husband - or another stroller being pushed by a happy couple. This was not just a trick of my mind, where I was just more conscious of it because I am sensitive to it. They were seriously everywhere. Each pregnant woman I saw reminded me of what I no longer have. Not just a baby - but hope. I no longer have hope. Hope for the future. Hope for a new life. All of these women have a lifetime of memories with their baby still ahead of them. All of my memories have already happened - and I won't get any more. Not with Kenley.
I had to take a moment. I stepped away from my group as they paused to look at a booth full of sunflowers and I let myself go. I cried underneath a tree, the cool spring breeze drying the tears as they fell down my cheeks. My sunglasses were fortunately big enough to hide my eyes from unsuspecting strangers, but not from Mike. Before long, he noticed I was gone - and he knew why. He saw them all too. He's trying so hard to keep me focused and to keep me from falling apart. I told him I just needed a moment. I needed to be upset. I needed to let myself cry. He held me for a minute and then said what he always says "We will get through this."
And we will. It won't be easy and it won't be quick - but we will get through it. One day, I won't pay as much attention to the bellies and the strollers. One day, I'll have my own belly again - and the stroller WILL follow. One day, I'll be ok. Just not today.