This past week was the anniversary of our due date with A. As you know, I’ve had an increasingly difficult time as his first birthday approaches, but I hadn’t expected the due date anniversary to be so harrowing.
I went to work like normal but immediately I found myself fighting back tears. All morning my mind kept revisiting that day last year – how coworkers who had bet on my delivering that day in the Baby Pool ribbed me during the day, how after work E accompanied me to our regularly scheduled weekly appointment, how everything checked out perfectly, how we sat just the two (three) of us while doing the non-stress test, how E was intrigued by the monitor and printout, how the paper in the printer ran out but the office didn’t have any more of the special paper in stock, how the midwife looked at the abbreviated printout and explained the graph and how it depicted the desired number of fetal heart accelerations and recoveries, how we discussed with her our desire to wait until labor started naturally emphasizing our faith in my body and the baby to know when the time was right, how I was a little disappointed I didn’t have the energy to go out for dinner that night – I wanted to have a due-date date.
How on that very day exactly one year ago we heard our son’s heart beating for the very last time.
Blinking back tears I tried to focus on my computer screen and work assignments. It was futile. My brain (and whole being) was too dialed-in to my child and my maternal responsibility. Like a repeating movie reel it played the events of the due date and the following day then the next when we finally went out for what we believed was our final nice meal out for a long time, then the following morning when we sat through a long Happiest Baby on the Block class where I felt him moving around inside me, how I was starving and thus cranky by the time the class ended, how we drove to the store to pick up special swaddling blankets, how the next morning I didn’t feel his usual pre-dawn activity but shrugged it off and got busy with final baby preparations, how we took a belly picture which I emailed to family and friends along with photos of the finished nursery, hours later I remarked to E that I hadn’t felt the baby as much as usual and then all that happened next…
By noon my chest was tight, my head hurt and I couldn’t focus on work at all. I tried releasing some tears first in the bathroom stall and then in a back abandoned office, but it wasn’t enough to ease the tension. I toyed with the idea of leaving and going home because that’s all I wanted; I just wanted the security and privacy of my home to cry at will.
Ironically, or perhaps not, I am feeling very similar to how I did last fall shortly after A was born. That familiar atmosphere where I don’t want to leave the house, I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to do anything but distract myself enough to get through the day until I can go back to bed and tick off another day on the calendar. Last year at this time I had the world’s permission as a newly bereaved mother to shutter myself in. I had 6-weeks of maternity leave to hibernate. Now I do not have that luxury but it is exactly what I am craving.
A’s actual birthday is in a few days and I have been bracing for that. But the due date really caught me off guard. You’d think after 12 full months of living in Griefland I would learn to expect the unexpected.