This is terrible to say, but it is my truth: I cannot wait until M's first birthday is over.
Do other preemie parents understand what I mean?
It's lurking, even when I'm busy with holiday meals, family activities, and cleaning up after two little kids. There it is. A sinking, sad, dark feeling.
One year ago today, I was on vacation in Texas with family. One year ago today, I was blissfully unaware at how our lives would be upended. Again. One year ago today, I was touching my belly when no one was watching. I kept my hand near my daughter, loving every second of my time with her. One year ago today, I still had no idea that her growth had plummeted from the 30th percentile to the 17th to the 5th. I had no idea my body was starving her. One year ago today, my husband and I were still optimistic. We still had a chance for a full-term birth. One year ago today, I still answered the question of whether M would be our last baby with a casual, "We'll see how this one goes," even though I'd already decided I wanted another one. And one year ago today, I was still clueless that so many decisions about my family, about my body, and about my future had already been made for me.
On most days, I sweep it under the emotional rug, because we are so fortunate. But, today I will admit it: I am in mourning for the youth and naivety this journey has stolen from me, I am in mourning for the traumatic way I had my babies, and I am in mourning that every time I look at those two joyful beings, I know I cannot create another one. I am in mourning that my husband will never feel a baby kick in my belly, I am mourning that we will never have a baby shower, and I am in mourning that so many of the best memories of our children's early years are so intertwined with the worst memories.
These are the dark days, the hard days, the sad days.
And the thing that makes me the saddest is that they come just before M's birthday, that I cannot separate her spectacular existence with the spectacular disintegration of my pregnancy.
But, because M is my second preemie, I know that this darkness will pass. Once the year mark is behind me, I'll pick up steam. Things will get easier. Life will get brighter. We will travel farther and farther from the hospitals, the stress, the hardest of hard days.
It's just the first anniversary that always gets me.