I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this time last year. I know exactly how pregnant I was and I remember specific details of what was going on at the time. This period of reflection started for me in anticipation of Mother’s Day. Over the course of the last few weeks, there has been a lot said in the baby loss community in regards to Mother’s Day – strategies for getting through it, words of encouragement that we are mothers even though our babies are not physically with us. I ignored most of it. Mother’s Day was planned for me. Every year my mom’s family (aunts, cousins, etc) gather for Mother’s Day. This year, it was decided to also do the unveiling of my grandfathers gravestone (a Jewish tradition) since the whole family would be together anyway. I didn’t have a choice – I had to be there. So I didn’t think much of Mother’s Day until a few days before.
Last year, Mother’s Day was so different. I was exactly 30 weeks pregnant and we hosted the family gathering at our house because many of the members of my family hadn’t seen the house and we wanted to show off the gorgeous mural Hackie had painted in the nursery. All spring, we pushed to have things around the house done by Mother’s Day – and we did! It was a beautiful day and I remember so vividly thinking about this year’s Mother’s Day and how wonderful it would be to get to have my own baby at the family gather and to get to pose in the traditional mom picture.
Of course, this year’s Mother’s Day was nothing like what I had pictured and as the day grew closer I began to feel very sad as I focused on what life was like one year ago. I approached the day with this attitude: No matter what happens, the day will end and it will be one more thing that I lived through. The day started at the cemetery and I really did not know what to expect. To those who have never been to a Jewish unveiling, it’s basically funeral part 2. My grandfather died 10 days after I found out I was pregnant with Maya. He was 88 and a truly wonderful man. The unveiling was hard – very hard. I cried harder than I have cried in a very long time. I tried so hard to focus on my grandfather but so many of the words read applied to my sweet Maya. We left stones that spelled out her name on his grave and I spoke to him – asking him to protect my sweet baby and keep her safe.
After the cemetery, we all gathered at my mom’s house for food and togetherness. I couldn’t eat any of the food, but I was able to enjoy my family’s company. We took lots of family pictures that included Maya bear. And I made it a point to be in the traditional mom picture. All in all, it was a hard day, but it wasn’t a bad day. I was recognized as a mother, which is all I can really ask for. I received many messages, texts, and emails. I got two beautiful cards, flowers, and new bracelets from my amazing husband. And I received a beautiful gift and card from my mom. I think I was long overdue for an intense day of grieving. Though I was not prepared to cry as hard as I did, I needed it. I needed to feel the sadness in order to feel close to my daughter.
Now that Mother’s Day has passed and I have had a few days to recover, I continue to reflect on this time last year. It was such a busy time and it was filled with such excitement – my birthday, my baby shower, getting the crib, putting the finishing touches on the nursery, frequenting Babies R Us – I remember it all. It brings about a new wave of sadness on this journey through grief. All of these memories signify that Maya’s birthday is so close – 4 weeks and 3 days away. I am proud to say that I am looking forward to her birthday. We are planning on dedicating her garden and have invited our closest family and friends to celebrate her life with us. I think it will be a beautiful day and will bring some peace and closure to the year.
What I’m not looking forward to is after her birthday. When the year of firsts is over and we begin our second year without our precious daughter. Will it be easier? Harder? What will we do? Will others have expected us to “move on”? Will we have our rainbow baby? There are so many unknowns. But that’s all this journey has been – unknowns. I walk this path so blindly never knowing what to expect or where or when my grief and sadness will become louder. After Maya’s birthday we will continue to march forward as best we can. We will overcome obstacles, make huge leaps, and fall a few times too. The one thing I can be sure of is that I will continue to have the support of my incredible husband. “Together” has become the theme of our year and it is so comforting to know that he is always by my side.