"What most people don’t understand is that holding, seeing, touching our dead babies is the...'highlight' of this experience: it’s the living without them for the rest of our lives that is truly awful." (-from here)
So true.... And I'm feeling this so much right now...
Happy Birthday to me.
Age is just a number and my birthdays have never been that big of a deal since reaching adulthood. You have the "big ones" like 18 and 21, but really... Not that big... Just another day (with cake and presents!) I had just turned 27 when we conceived Nicholas and Sophia, and, on my 28th birthday, I was reeling from their deaths, my impending miscarriage, and that first Mother's Day as an orphaned mother. I asked that people leave me alone to grieve. There was no party, no cake, no dinner. The one tradition I did keep was the jaunt that Sarah and I have routinely taken to Jim Thorpe. I remember visiting the winery and not being able to wine taste because I was pregnant and so hopefuly... A hope that fell apart the day after Father's Day. Two months later, I was pregnant with Alexander and desperately praying that lightening couldnt- wouldnt- strike twice. But it did. And all I could think about was that it was unfair that I was able to celebrate year after year when my children couldn't. Approaching 29, I was, once again, pregnant, this time with Bobby and Maya. I spent the day in bed and Peter took a photo for their book. I had three children I'd miscarried, three children I'd said goodbye to moments after they were born, and two children kicking away happily in my belly. It was a bittersweet way to welcome in the last of my 20s. I remember my birthday wish being, simply, that Bobby and Maya be born much later, healthy. And, that wish came true. A few months later, I got the best belated birthday gifts ever, weighing in at 2lb13oz and 2lb5oz. They were perfect.
Yet, that doesnt negate me wanting to forget about my birthdays. I have no issue with 30 (or 40 or...) or my gray hair, or my wrinkles. It's just that every year is a year farther from my pregnancies... from the times when my children were all alive.
And yet, I wouldnt trade this life. If God gave me the choice, I would choose this life over again. Because, without it, I wouldnt have had- and have still- the joys of being a mother to five born and three unborn babies. I would have liked a less painful, less difficult journey. I would have liked an outcome where all of our children were born full term and healthy... where I had the happiness of watching all of them grow up. But a world without all of them? I just cant imagine. Each was so special. So loved. So wanted. So unique. Each one was perfect for themselves. I cant imagine not having- even a few moments- with each of them.
So, I'm happy for the pain because it brought me the joy. I'll accept the death because it brought the life. I'll take the journey because the stops along the way are the most blissful I could have ever wished for. I'll be grateful for the missing because it means they were here to miss. I'll embrace the grief because it came from the gifts. And, in that, it is the happiest birthday of all. Yes, because I have living children to celebrate it with- that is undeniable. But also because I have learned over the last two and a half years to acknowledge and aceept the grief within my soul. That THIS is who I am, who I really am. That it always will be. That the hurt can comingle with the delight... That the struggle can coexist with the simplicity of life... That the bitterness of loss and anger can live side by side with the sweetness of motherhood to ALL my babies and the lives of Bobby and Maya- because, bitter and sweet are just two sides of the same coin.
So Happy Birthday to me. Happy, Happy Birthday to me.