How I’m Raising an Invisible Child

How I'm Raising an Invisible Child
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In my childhood, three imaginary friends kept me company. Small in stature, Golly, Hammer and Guys ate dinner, played tea parties and ran outside with me. I always became upset when one of my parents accidentally sat on them and squished them.

Golly, Hammer and Guys were imaginary. Even though I outgrew them, sometimes I still feel like I have an imaginary companion: Dominic.

Dominic is real, but his absence ripped an unfathomable hole in my heart. Since his birth, I think of him constantly and wonder what it would be like to be his mother, raising him in my home. Imagining this alternate life is almost like living with an invisible child.

Dominic and his parents visited us in January and I aggressively restrained myself while I was shopping. In the closet of our spare bedroom, I store the few things I bought for Dom to use in my home: stackable cups, a cloth soccer ball, a hooded towel and two washcloths. A plastic baby bowl and two tiny spoons hide with my best dishes above the refrigerator in my kitchen.

Catching sight of these measly baby items further spurs my imagination to picture his life with me.

What crib would I have bought? How would I have decorated his room? What would his favorite toy be? Who would have given it to him? How would I dress him? Where would he like to play? Would he and our two dogs be best friends?

I can picture him here because he was here. But “here” would be a completely different place with him as a regular inhabitant instead of an occasional visitor.

So I sometimes imagine the details of what would be different. I see him toddling down the hallway. I hear him crying from the room that would be his bedroom. I pause after washing the dishes to check for bottles. I scan the playground to evaluate how well he might clamber around.

Seeing him here in my mind’s eye feels like he’s here, just invisible.


What “odd” responses to grief have you experienced? Birthmothers, do you picture your life as it would have been if you had kept your child/children? Leave a reply in the comment box below. Please be familiar with the comment policy.

3 thoughts on “How I’m Raising an Invisible Child

  1. Tammy

    I often think about how it would have been to raise my son too. Since he is an adult now I wonder how my influence would have changed him or how I would have changed being a mother at the age of 17.
    I gave birth to the first of the children I raised 7 years after my birth son and in the quiet as I rocked her I would think of my Son and hold him in my heart. How it would feel to rock him in my arms. Wondering how he looked now and what he is doing. Hoping and praying he is happy and well loved.

    • Emily

      It’s a hard thing to carry our children in our hearts, because when they’re not in our arms, they’re invisible to everyone else. No one knows what’s missing except us. Thanks for sharing, Tammy. Your insight is always spot-on and appreciated.

  2. Anke Hodenpijl

    Thank-you Emily. I can relate to this when I think of the babies my daughter miscarried. I still hold them in my heart as well.

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