As automated as our world has become, I still have a paper calendar hanging above my computer. I don’t put much on there as far as our activities and such. I like to be able to look over and check the date while I’m on the phone or working on something. I write reminders to myself on the the calendar…..I normally end up transferring them to my electronic calendar, but sometimes it’s just quicker to write it down than pull up an app and type it all in.
I just flipped the page of the calendar to check a date while on a phone call, and I gasped. I saw “September” on that page, and felt that little pinch in my heart. I’m not a fan of early Fall. I haven’t been for thirteen years. That makes my heart pinch a little more. You see, it was the Wednesday after Labor Day thirteen years ago when the bleeding started, 23 weeks and 4 days into my pregnancy with our oldest son. My stomach crawls up into my throat when I remember that day. And I can’t stop myself from remembering that day whenever I see or hear “September.” It was the day our innocence about pregnancy and childbirth was stolen. It was the day dreams and hopes were shattered. It was the day we started down the path of prematurity. It was the day we started learning all kinds of things no parent should know.
Nearly thirteen years later, Ry is perfectly normal and healthy. Oh, he’s had a few glitches. Most of what he deals with now are things even full term kiddos may have to deal with…ADHD, mild asthma, allergies. He wears glasses (not all the time), but that’s only been since he was 8 years old. He’s pretty skinny, but that’s mostly genetic. He’s not super tall yet, but his dad and the men in my family had their big growth spurts more towards the middle of high school.
His scars are not really visible. He never had to have any surgeries in the NICU, thank goodness. He has one little mark on his face in the place a night nurse (who never was allowed to take care of him again), tore the tape holding his CPAP tube off his face, long before he had all his layers of skin. I could still punch her every time I see that mark.
Regardless of where we are, I still get weepy and emotional, and kind of close up a little bit at this time of the year. I can almost physically feel it coming. I’ve been grinding my teeth almost every night for the past week. My body just feels more achy. I’m tense. I have to remind myself to lower my shoulders. I think I would spend much of my time until his birthday in a fetal position if I could.
Things are not so bad, and yet it’s still an emotion-filled time for me. He’s healthy and normal, but my heart still hurts. Thinking back to that Wednesday, and first the sixteen and then the ninety-three days that followed (and then all the years of worry and stress after that over whether he would be okay), I want to crawl into a cave. It’s like watching Titanic….you know exactly how it’s going to end every single time, and there’s nothing you can do to change what happened, but you still catch your breath, and you still cry for everything and everyone that was lost.
On Sunday, I will turn the page of my calendar. I’ll have to stare at that title for a month. It’ll get to me more often than not as the days go by. We will celebrate his thirteen amazing years of life later in the month. Even that will be bittersweet. What should have been and what was are so far apart. I would give anything to be that innocent mom of a Christmas baby, rather than the eyes-wide-open mom of an early-Fall baby. Wake me up when September ends.