Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Meeting New Friends

Two years ago, I imagined meeting new friends would forever go something like this:

"Hi, my name is Brandy and I have a dead baby. Would you like to be my friend?"

...Except, things aren't quite going like that.

I used to want every single person I encountered to be very, very aware that I was in mourning and have a baby which therefore makes me a parent and you better not think otherwise because I will hit you with the grief train. Luckily, Benjamin really does prove I'm a mother now. In the flesh as I wipe his snot and change his stinky diapers. Will I stand firm and tell people that Andrew made me a mother first? Forever. In many ways, Benjamin makes it easier to speak up about his big brother.

There isn't really a doubt that Benjamin saved my life. When I say I need him, I'm not really just kidding around.

I'd be in a very dark place without him here and I'd definitely, definitely not have put meet new friends on my year's resolutions list {which, by the way, are going great. We're on Day 11 of the Shred and I want to kill Jillian Michaels and yes... my husband doing the Shred with me is the only reason I am still committed}.

You know what? We met new friends. And, we've already had two playdates and are going to a dinner they're hosting at their house this weekend where we might meet even more friends. We've talked about Andrew and told them we lost him at full term and they were apologetic and sweet. Yet, that is not the cornerstone of our friendship and I'm somewhat okay with that.

How do you meet new friends {who haven't lost a baby} after you've lost a baby?

I mean, we can't have expectations for them to remember our baby, because to them, they have no history of  Andrew. And really, we're friends because we happen to have children the same age and a bit more in common. But babyloss? That's not one of them.

Benjamin deserves his own friends and for me to step out of my comfort zone to meet others that will engage and enrich his life. This is the balance of not wanting him to live in Andrew's shadow, but to encourage his individual growth and social awareness. It's challenging though, because no matter how hard I try, the person I was before Andrew has a really hard time being present in relationships now. Yet, I do enjoy escaping the beast of my babyloss mom status for just a bit. It's a skin I can't take off, but maybe cover for bits of time.

This territory is all new for us. We're happy-ish again. Always mourning and frankly bitter at those who aren't still at 2 years because how can you not be? But, we're also living that whole picket-fence life of the house and the kid and definitely not the minivan, except, grief is still very much alive. We're still sad we'll never see out the path we thought would be ours just over two years ago.


Renel said... [Reply to comment]

Well yay for friends. Really. It's a huge hurtle and it's hard. Where did you find them?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Meeting new friends can be liberating at this stage. You can choose what about Andrew you want to share...the entire thing seems fresh. As well because they were not there in the "ugly" days of grief with you there is something freeing about that too. Andrew would be proud of you meeting new friends, it is impossibly hard to do.

The only new friends I have gained since Ava are ones I have met through Mom's group. I will say, my relationship with a few friends I had before Ava are now dramatically closer and some are more distant. You change when you loose a child, yet another thing you would not have to explain to a new friend!

I sometimes tire of being the person who has to teach about infant loss and new friends would mean sometimes you do not have to!

Kari at A Grace Full Life said... [Reply to comment]

Finding new friends is haaaard.
I have lived here 20 some years and I still have trouble meeting new people.
And I haven't started the shred yet because I have been sick.
Next week....I promise.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

You are such a good mom to both boys, but you are not just doing good for him - but for you as well. Meeting new friends IS hard and you are right that you want everyone to be very, very aware. That's part of why I was really worried about moving here. But so far, I'm thankful I've been able to share Cale with a few new people. I haven't become close with anyone, but it's getting easier to remember that I have lots of other reasons to befriend someone other than through a babyloss connection.

Party of Three Heads said... [Reply to comment]

Totally relate to meeting new friends that haven't had a loss... so friggin hard.... and I wanted them to know that I was miserable and drowing in my misery... :( Your post made total sense to me...

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Dude, you know how I feel about picking up local (non-babyloss) moms at local libraries, etc. It's so hard to try to make a connection with other moms when I feel like everything is so trivial and unimportant, kwim? And at the same time I hesitate to even want to tell them about Jack because I just don't want to put that kind of pressure (of intimacy, maybe?) on them when they're there for their children to make friends. Ya know?

Ps. I'm fairly certain that I emailed you for the first time using those exact words in your quote! ha!

Pss. Benjamin saving your life? Ditto. I honestly feel the exact same way.

JoyAndSorrow said... [Reply to comment]

I absolutely love this post and can relate so much. I spend a lot of time contemplating how much of my identity is comprised of being a blm. I've had women in this community tell me flat out that I will never be able to be close with anyone outside of the loss community. And, well, that is just rubbish I will never accept, plus it's just not true. Yes I have lost friends, but I have also had other friendships deepen after our loss. And I speak of non-loss people. The world really isn't so black and white as some people would have you believe. You CAN find wonderful supportive people, even if they've never "been there".
So glad to hear your resolutions are successful so far!!! And you reassure me that I am right in thinking there IS hope in genuine friendships after loss, and that I am not the only one trying to balance all of this out, two years from our loss as well. xoxoxo

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so glad you are doing well with your resolutions! It's hard to make new friends. I've been taking G to story time and there's a kid mom combo that we really get along with, I think we'd have fun on play dates or something, but I can't bring myself to ask about it because she's pregnant. This is an issue for me obviously because I'm not pregnant and find myself occasionally fantasizing about drowning myself in the nearest bucket of water rather than stare at her adorable belly, but it's (honestly) something I could get past. My bigger issue is that I don't want to tell a pregnant woman about my losses. I don't want to bring that reality to this woman, at this time, but I can't imagine being friends and not telling her. I don't know what to do about that. Maybe I should write to Brooke's advice column.

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Two things.

1) why are we not living in the same town? We would surely have play dates AND be able to talk freely and openly about Andrew and Denise. Our hubby's could watch the Steeler game while we chase the boys away from toilet paper rolls and light sockets. Also, 30 day shred??? I'm on day 3 and I already despise Jillian. In a good way. Unless after thirty days of torture, I am not any firmer or smaller. Then I'll just really really dislike her.

Can't wait to hear about your progress with thE workouts! And hooray for new friends

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I have made a few post-loss friends but only one of them is a friend with kids and we met through my blog so she already knew about Eliza. Most of my new friends are co-workers so it's a fairly casual friendship. Some of them know about Eliza and some don't. It's one of those things that I no longer feel compelled to announce or absolutely work into a conversation that is going in another direction, but I also feel pretty comfortable addressing it if/when it does come up, no matter who I'm talking to (of course there are always exceptions to that, but you know).

I am so not even motivated to exercise. Maybe when the weather gets warmer? And I HATE exercising with David. He's so damn cheerful about it. Drives me nuts.

Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment]

Yay for new friends!
Can't wait to hear more about fun playdates and dinners. Also, I am scared to start the Shred...I need someone to light a fire under my butt.

Hope's Mama said... [Reply to comment]

Our closest friends in life now are friends we made when Angus was born. They came in to our life post-Hope. Who knew it was possible to form friendships after such an event had already taken place in your recent past. But I guess for the reasons you listed, Angus needed a friend and they have a kid just five days older. They embrace Hope and remember even though they never met her and never knew us when we lost her. We are lucky. Sounds like you have been too.

Mama Bear said... [Reply to comment]

Meeting new friends (after school) was hard before Bear died & now seems like almost too much. Thankfully Bode is still little and doesn't yet need play dates. Good for you with the exercise. I'm still trying to motivate...

Suzanne said... [Reply to comment]

I've met some new friends at art class and ballet class and other classes I take. I've developed old acquaintances into real friendships because of shared losses. And it is hard - how do you drop a dead baby bomb on some new person you meet and like? It is one of the single most significant factors that define my day-to-day life.

Several of my old friendships are still impossible, and I don't know how much I care to invest in them. But I am jealous of the success you are having with your resolutions!

RyAnne said... [Reply to comment]

I loved this post so much. It is so hard knowing when to speak up about our children or when to stay silent. I have made a few friends since Caleb's death and that has been refreshing. They all have babies Abigail's age but they don't know the "before" me so they don't expect me to be the way I used to be. It is getting harder now that all of them are starting to talk about getting pregnant again and I want to run screaming out of the room. It's also hard every time they say phrases like "first time moms." I always want to correct them but don't. In the end I guess I was like you and just wanted Abigail to have her own friends and not live in Caleb's shadow. It was hard stepping out but I'd like to think I'm getting better at it.....

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

I definitely feel like I am ruined for new relationships once we finally have a living baby. I am also scared my future babies will be living in the shadows of liam and Evelynn. What do u do though.