I know that I am prone to depression. Not just a bit of a funk, but the won’t get out of bed except for in emergencies (like bathroom breaks) type of depression. Here I am faced with a tragic loss that could send even the strongest of individuals into a downward spiral. If I do what I feel like doing right now, I know that I could quickly devolve into a pajama-wearing mess sitting in a pile of tissues, who requires some sort of professional intervention. Recognizing this tendency, I have realized that I need to find things to keep myself busy – things that will get me out of my pajamas and out of the house. I’ve mentioned previously that for obvious reasons it is EXTREMELY difficult to be around pregnant women and babies. This means that nowhere was safe. I go to the movies and a pregnant woman sits down next to me. Malls are the stuff of nightmares. The more people, the more likely I am to run into a pregnant woman or a new mom with a baby.
I started with baby steps. I’d stop at a grocery store on my way home from grief therapy. I’d go hang out with my mom at their pool next door. Eventually, I decided I needed to find a baby free way to get out regularly. A few weeks ago, I was in my old room at my parents’ house when I saw a small bowl I had made at a pottery class as a kid. I remembered how much I loved and looked forward to that class. I’ve always enjoyed a good craft or DIY project, so I looked up the place I’d gone to twenty years ago for a class. Low and behold they had an adult pottery class beginning this past Monday. My husband and parents encouraged me to sign up and I did. It’s 3 hours every Monday morning until mid-December. It seemed like a perfect fit. It’s an adult class where I can meet people and learn something fun.
I went on Monday. I was nervous. Most outings make me nervous. I knew the class was all levels and that there were likely to be people with loads of experience. What if I was terrible at this particular craft? I found the classroom and checked in. The teacher is extremely nice. A few minutes later, another student checked in. We’ll call her “B” and she was instantly extremely nice. I started to relax a bit as we waited for other students. An administrator came in and let our teacher know that the afternoon class didn’t have enough people signed up and we would be getting a few extra students. What happened next is almost funny in retrospect. The teacher told us that we were waiting for a student who had a newborn baby. No big deal. I’d be jealous and keep a reasonable distance. Nope. The woman’s sister-in-law had already arrived and let us know that this woman couldn’t rearrange her babysitter and would be bringing the baby to class. What!?!
I’d love to see what my face looked like at that moment. I quickly and quietly warned the teacher and B of what I had recently been through. I said that I would do my best, but that I didn’t know if I could handle three hours around a newborn baby. Eventually the woman and baby showed up. I did my best to ignore them. However, every time the baby cried, I would flinch away from what I was working on. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop as other artists oohed and ahhed over the precious little baby. I couldn’t help but be jealous. I want someone to ooh and ahh over my baby, but people don’t do that for babies who die.
I signed up for that class thinking this class would be a safe zone. There wouldn’t be babies in a pottery studio. Apparently, I was wrong. Nowhere is safe! Pottery studios are filled with silica dust and paint fumes. While I don’t mean to sound like I’m passing some unfair judgment, I have no idea why someone would bring an infant into that environment. To be clear, she didn’t do a whole lot of pottery work. I’m also shocked that it isn’t a liability for the arts center to have an infant in a space like that.
For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about the scene in Sweet Home Alabama in which Reese Witherspoon’s character responds to an insult from a former classmate by pointing out that she has a baby in a bar.
I guess it’s that this mother had her baby in one of the last places I would expect and a place that I would never have brought my own baby.
I survived the class. I even enjoyed parts of it (when the baby was out of sight and out of mind). Fortunately, she isn’t planning to bring the baby in the future. I went up to her at the end to explain my “situation” and to find out if I should switch classes. To be honest, one of the hardest parts of the entire ordeal was that this mother didn’t even flinch or show any hint of empathy/sympathy as I told her I’d recently lost my son towards the end of my pregnancy. I would have thought that a new mother would have some sort of reaction to what I was telling her. I suppose everyone reacts in their own way to this sort of thing, and I can’t be sure what was going through her head. Oh well.