Turning her head ever-so-slightly towards the camera, she curves her lips in a tiny smile. She lies listless, gift-wrapped in a blanket, covered up to her chest. Her hands display the miniature rose petals she has for fingernails.
You’ve seen her pictures before; but this isn’t how you expected her to look. You expected to see a baby, of course. But you didn’t expect her cheeks to be so wobbly, almost like jelly. Your heart pounds as you touch her – her skin is so tender she looks fragile; almost boneless.
You only desire that night is to hold her in your arms and cradle her to sleep. If you had known what you know now, you might have.
You see her again two months later. And this time, you get to hold her in your arms. She lies still. She is the exact size of a loaf of bread, and would totally fit in a small-sized oven. She seems pretty weightless. Her eyes are wide open, and it almost makes your heart stop when she raises her arm to touch your earring. I’m getting one of these, you announce almost immediately. And the wine has nothing to do with that.
As you go home that night, your heart aches to just hold your hand against her skin.
You meet her again. This time, she is larger and cuter. She is perhaps the calmest baby ever. There is none of the obviously irritating signs – the crying, the grunting or the smelly diapers, at least not until later. She speaks to you in a language only she can understand. Perhaps she is trying to tell you something you don’t remember. She smiles all afternoon; so do you. You kiss her only once, before you leave.
Months later, you wonder if it is weird for you to feel the loss of a love you never really had.