A year ago on this day of the week – Thursday – but it was actually the 20th of May – my daughter was born.
I wrote about it here.
And tomorrow will be her official birthday.
And the family will come for dinner on Sunday night, after my sister gets back from a well-deserved weekend away, to celebrate and watch Julia smear spaghetti and cake and ice cream all over her cheeky little face.
But for some reason, the day of the week is the anniversary of a lot of events in my life. Not all of them. But some.
My first date with Bill was on a Wednesday.
Alex was born on a Monday.
Julia was born on a Thursday.
I’m sure there are others – I just don’t feel like trying to remember them for this post.
I have other things to say.
Probably because of Julia’s birthday, and other things going on in my life right now, I’ve been feeling a surge of emotions welling up in me. I have been feeling tears push against the backs of my eyes. Which is funny, because it’s been ages since I cried about anything. Anti-depressants apparently do that – I didn’t know, and I just realized it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t cry so easily any more. Which is good. But at the same time, it’s not easy to cry any more, and I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad.
But anyway. I’ve been feeling a lot of stuff close to the surface.
And that’s probably why I had a kind of strange day yesterday.
I’ve been feeling kind of…well…yucky lately. I’m on several kinds of medication – a couple of them for the sinus infection I had at the beginning of the month – I still have almost two weeks left on the antibiotic. Yes. Antibiotic. My second round of them recently, though not back to back – I had a couple of weeks in between them. But still…for most of the week, the feeling yucky, the fatigue, the weird eating patterns, the aversion to coffee…the antibiotic…hmmmm…I started wondering if maybe I was pregnant.
No, couldn’t be. I’m just imagining things. So I told myself every day.
But that was stupid – not knowing. Just saying no wouldn’t make it not true. What if…? So yesterday on my way home from work on my lunch break, I suddenly was flooded with the idea that maybe I really was pregnant. I can’t explain it – it was like a wave pouring onto the beach, flooding all the footprints and washing sand out to sea. It felt true. And so I had to know. I had to be certain, one way or another. If I wasn’t, fine, just a little bit of panic. No harm done. But if I was – better make some changes in a hurry so I wouldn’t cause harm to the tiny creature….
For some reason, in my mind, as I drove to the pharmacy, the baby was a girl. That’s it. I jumped way ahead – even counting months on my fingers (pathetic, but I admit it) and reasoning that whatever it was, two kids could share a room, the other would have his/her own room, and Bill and I would convert the computer/music room into our bedroom – as we figured we’d end up doing eventually anyway.
I got to the pharmacy and was actually shaking inside. I was distracted, to say the least. And…I was excited. I was actually hoping. Insane as that sounds, I was. I felt this clear bubble of joy pushing up through all the sadder stuff that’s been clogging me and pushing tears against my eyes. I found myself smiling.
I went home and took the test. This one only took a minute. I think the ones I used when I was pregnant with Julia took three minutes…and I think Alex’s took five. But who knows. I could be wrong. This one took a minute. I set a timer and left the room, wandered aimlessly into my bedroom, and picked up Julia’s ultrasound picture from my bureau – where it still sits, though it should have been added to her baby book by now. That grainy, black and white and gray image…the little gnocchi-like gray blob that was Julia-to-be….Babies are miracles.
I remember all of my pregnancies, however brief.
The very first one – I found out right before my birthday…I remember a couple things…going to dinner at my parents’ house…in the kitchen, talking to my mother, she opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Luna di Luna Pinot Grigio – the bottle is blue, I see it in her hand…she said she’d bought it to have with dinner…and I couldn’t have asked for a better moment. I said "I can’t have any of that for another eight months." She got it immediately. Of course. Screams and hugs.
And I remember having to go in for an ultrasound several days later because I’d had some bleeding…and the kind way the radiologist told Bill and I that there was no heartbeat…and how he pointed to a picture of his three kids, and said that he and his wife had three kids, and she had been pregnant six times. So don’t be discouraged. We went to my parents’ house…more hugs…but with tears.
The next time I found out while we were still in the process of moving into this house. I’d been moving heavy boxes and furniture over the course of a few weeks, I think. And then I found out. It was a little scary – what if. What if all the lifting somehow killed the baby…and I didn’t know it yet. The other one was fairly recent – I didn’t want to go through that again. So we just tried not to get excited. Tried not to think about it too much. Just in case.
And then – again – bleeding. I tried to be strong. It might be happening again. There might be something wrong…but there wasn’t. He gave me a couple of scares, but Alex was born the following June.
And the third…as I remember it, I was tired a lot early on…it was winter…I had a small child…I was working full time…I felt off. But figured that was because I was pregnant. Then I went in for the first checkup at eleven or twelve weeks…and I remember the expression on my OB/GYN’s face. She was trying not to express anything, I’m sure, but that was what gave it away. Her face was no longer relaxed. And I was no longer pregnant. The image on the ultrasound machine looked like a chunk of moon rock floating in space. Empty space. No life form.
I was alone. I went home, numb. Not crying. I had to get Alex at daycare. Bill was at work. It was April. And Joe, our nephew, stopped by unexpectedly. And he was the first person I told. He asked me, grinning, how I was feeling. And I couldn’t lie to him. Bill got home a little later, and I told him after Joe had gone. Here we go again. Another trip to the hospital, and then home empty, and empty-handed.
And then the fourth. I invited my mother to the ultrasound. She’d never seen one in real life. The same radiologist. A very kind man. One of the best memories – of all the pregancies – no matter what the news was. And, this time, again, the news was not good. No heartbeat. I can’t remember what he called it, something about an egg and a sperm joining but no baby resulting…a kind of false pregnancy. But, he said, once in a great while, there is a heartbeat – it just isn’t showing up. So he had me make an appointment to come back at the end of the week so he could take another look. Okay. Fine. Whatever. I did not cry. I set my jaw and glared at my mother so she wouldn’t say anything sympathetic. We spoke flatly. About nothing. And I went home.
And that Friday Bill came with me. And I expected nothing. I was not hopeful. This was just doing what needed to be done to confirm the bad news. And then it would be another trip into the hospital for an outpatient "procedure." I decided that week that I didn’t want to go through this again. Alex would be fine as an only child. I was finished. This was too, too painful.
And then he found the heartbeat. And everything went fine after that. And in May the next year, Julia was born.
And so here I am again. Waiting for a timer to go off so I can find out what’s going on. And it did. It went off. I walked, did not run, walked back to the bathroom and looked at the two little windows in the plastic stick. And I wasn’t pregnant. I’m not pregnant.
And I felt the little clear bubble pop. And all that stuff that has been welling up and that was pushed aside by the thought of one more baby, unplanned, but so what, all of that stuff poured back in and welled back up and I felt a little pricking against the backs of my eyes. And I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. I don’t think I could. I just felt. I just felt sad.
Which was strange, because I’ve always said I just want two kids. But not so strange either. The idea of another baby was a happy thing. Except for some of the physical side effects – the heartburn, the carpal tunnel, the swelling – I loved being pregnant. I loved to feel the babies move inside me. I loved the magic of it. Amazement would wash over me now and again – there was a living creature inside of me. ME! I have never felt so powerful, so alive. So completely happy in my own skin.
So I felt sad. I’d allowed myself to get excited, and this was the letdown. It would pass. It has passed. I don’t feel the sadness I did yesterday.
I think some of it was brought on by Julia’s upcoming birthday. She will be one. One whole year old. She’s talking a bit – and babbling a LOT. She isn’t walking yet, but it could be soon. It will be whenever she damn well pleases – that’s the kind of person she is. She’s not an infant any more. That chapter of my life is closing. They are still my babies, they are still little…but she is not completely dependant on my any more. She gets around. She knows her mind, and she is a determined little thing. And she’s not an infant now. I guess maybe I wanted an infant, one more time. Maybe that’s greedy. I am so lucky to have two healthy children – maybe it’s greedy to want more. Or greedy to want to be pregnant again…to feel the first fluttery movements…and later the rolling alien creature flailing around inside shoving feet and elbows against my bladder and ribs. I wanted to feel that again. I wanted to feel that so I could put some other, less pleasant, feelings somewhere else for a while. I wanted to focus on something new.
That was yesterday.
Today – I am happy and content. I do not need another baby to distract me. I have two funny, lively, amazing and beautiful children and a husband who, to his own amazement, is a fabulous and natural father as well.
I have so much.
So happy almost birthday, Julia. My little scrunchy-faced girl. My littlest baby.