A friend recently asked me how I do it - how I manage to cope in a world where, as she put it, everyone is pregnant and babies are popping out all over the place.
My first response was, "I'm dead inside" (after which I laughed heartily at my self-deprecating witticism).
The serious answer was, "I don't know."
Because I don't, really. There's no magic in my ability to hold babies. To smile and coo at them. To listen with rapt attention to endless stories of breast feeding, colic, teething and foiled naps.
I just do it. Then I crawl home, regroup and carry on. It's just what I have to do. And, sometimes, what I actually want to do.
My Beloved and I were just saying today that the very best thing that could have happened to us, in terms of our healing, was the arrival of a new baby next door a little over a year after Thomas died.
It was immersion therapy for both of us. The baby was there. We were here. And soon our lives become intertwined and we fell in love.
And suddenly babies weren't so scary anymore.
She was the first baby I'd held since my own. And, I won't lie, it was agony. The weight of her. The life in her. But I did it. And I've done it a million times since. And now I've held her brand new sister too.
Because it's that or cloister myself away - separate myself from a world that I sometimes do have a hard time feeling a part of. And I don't want that. I've never wanted that. I've fought hard to make people not fear me and my sorrow. I've worked like a dog to prove I'm greater than the sum of those parts.
I figure if I'm going to talk the talk, I have to walk the walk.
So there's not an ounce of magic in it. It's just stubbornness - my inability to let my particular brand of motherhood keep me from being friends with women who haven't buried a child.
Magic would be easier though. There's no doubt about it.