When you hear your neighbor’s new baby cry for the first time

Background: We live on the third floor of a three-story building. There is a condo unit on each floor. On the first floor live our lovely neighbors S and N, who are our age. They (and our second floor neighbors, who are also around our age) were very kind when we lost Anderson. When N found out she was expecting, she let us know before she started to show, so we wouldn’t be caught off guard. Before sending us an invitation to the baby shower, she let us know she would love to have us there, but wanted us to know that if it was too hard for us to attend, she would completely understand. (We did end up going, but left early. She was very kind to rave about how much she loved the hat we had knit as part of her gift, and how she knew the hats were special because they were all made in Anderson’s name). In short, N is kind and sympathetic. It was still hard for me to see her around, pregnant, heading cheerily to yoga, piling guest room furniture and empty stroller boxes in the basement to make room for the nursery. It was harder because we knew she was having a boy, and was due in January, right around Ander’s birthday.

Yesterday, I left work 15 minutes early because I needed to make a run to Costco before dinner. I got home, dropped my bag, put my wallet and my phone in my pocket, and headed back out. As I rounded the last corner in the stairs, I heard the unmistakable wail of a newborn baby. He was here, and he was home.

I was prepared for baby B’s birth. I knew this moment would come any day now. But it was so much harder than I expected to hear that baby cry and N shushing him.

I should be the expert mom by now, stopping by to drop off hand-me-downs and sage advice. Instead, I’ll be on the receiving end of her old clothes and wisdom some day (which, when I think about it, is okay because her stuff is guaranteed to be much swankier than mine would be, based on her taste and income). I just hope I’m not too resentful that the power dynamic is not what it should be (I know that’s not quite right – power dynamic – but isn’t that what it feels like some times?).

S and N are still trying to be gentle with us. S came upstairs last night to ask us a question, and didn’t mention the baby until K asked, “So! I hear you have a new little visitor in your home?” Then he said, “Oh! Yeah. He’s a great little guy,” and beat a hasty retreat. On one hand, I like knowing that our loss is apparently present in their minds. On the other hand, it’s both awkward and exclusionary to feel this tip-toed around.

We’ll drop off a hot dinner on Sunday night, as good neighbors do. But I still haven’t decided if I want to see that baby.

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4 Responses to When you hear your neighbor’s new baby cry for the first time

  1. kaitlynva says:

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way around other peoples’ babies. Thanks for sharing.

  2. meghanoc says:

    agreed. is it weird that I care about that power struggle too? the one where I’m supposed to be the expert but now people who have babies after me will be? I know it’s underlying theme is that my baby died, but I hate the shift of power too. hugs.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I too shudder at thinking about seeing a newborn baby….the “what should be’s” are so hard. I’m glad you are sticking up for yourself!

  4. It sounds agonisingly painful, I’m sorry. I am glad they’re being sensitive though.

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