I have invisible babies.
Their names are Matthew and Elisabeth, Abigail and Michael.
I see them sometimes. Blond hair like their brother, brown eyes like their sister. Sometimes I am jarred from a dream where I am holding Abigail in my arms while Michael pulls the couch cushions off the couch.
They exist in my imagination only. They are the babies of my heart, the ones I wanted to have and, barring miracle upon miracle, will not.
But then I remember the years before. When I had two more imaginary babies, and their names were Joshua and Olivia.
I remember dreaming of them, too. Of chubby, peanut-butter-and-jelly smeared cheeks and the scent of freshly shampooed hair. I dreamt of a little boy who pedaled furiously down the sidewalk and a little girl in a black lace dress.
I remember my then-boyfriend telling me that it was okay if there never was a Joshua or an Olivia.
I remember, both times, sitting in a doctor’s office saying, I would like a baby.
I remember the wind on the hot summer day as it threatened to blow the prescription I clung so tightly too, all my hope wrapped up in that little piece of paper.
And those September days, both times in September, when there was, joy of joys, miracle of miracles, two pink lines instead of one.
And I remember those days, both times in May, when a red, screaming baby was placed in my arms, and those imaginary babies suddenly had kissable little noses and a very healthy set of lungs.
Someday, perhaps, they will know how very wanted they were. How Mommy gained far too much weight on fertility drugs and they made her cranky and mad and depressed and tired all at once. How doctors told Mommy that she could not have children, but God intervened and said oh yes, you can.
Someday, maybe, I will tell my babies about the other babies, the ones that aren’t. Somewhere in the shadows I will always see them, but lately they’ve been crowded out by the squabbling and messes that come with two very small children. Not that those imaginary babies would have been any less hoped for or wanted or loved than the two I have in my arms and climbing on my back right now, but the truth is, they aren’t here.
And unless God decides to intervene again, they never will be.
I go back to the story of Hannah.
How she prayed and cried for baby. How when she was done, after speaking to the priest, she got up, dusted herself off, and went back to her life. Not that her imaginary babies were not wanted or hoped for or loved, but Hannah knew she couldn’t live in that pain. She couldn’t wallow any longer in the plight of infertility. Hannah went her way and ate, 1 Samuel says, and then went home with her husband.
Hannah dried her eyes and went on with her life, not knowing whether or not she would ever have a child, but knowing that the Lord had heard her prayer and that Eli, the priest, had wished her peace.
And so do I. I cuddle and rock and play with and enjoy the babies that I have. No, there may never be a multitude of children running through my house, but, truthfully, these two have enough energy for twelve. And there may always be Michael and Matthew and Abigail and Elisabeth in the back of my mind, what could have been but isn’t, and I am okay with that.
I get up, and eat, and tend to my children, and, like Hannah, go in peace.