The first week or so of November is always an odd time. For many years it only marked the anniversary of my run-in with meningitis, which rocked my life and set the course for aftershocks that would continue for years. But then came my pregnancy with Thomas, and a mid-November due date. By the first week of November 2011, I was more than 38 weeks pregnant, the size of a small house and with a waddle to rival a duck. I was attending the hospital on a daily basis for monitoring, and was admitted on November the 6th to start the long induction road that eventually led to the c-section birth of our precious son.
Now – each year since – I can’t help but remember exactly what I was doing on each of those days that led up to his birthday. And I can’t imagine a time in my life where I won’t think of it during these weeks as it was such a defining period in my life.
But this year those memories have been clouded with thoughts of a different due date. A different pregnancy altogether, resulting from the IVF cycle that almost worked, at the start of this year. The cycle that bought me a short period of pure, intense joy, only for it to be cruelly snatched away.
I’m not really one to dwell too much on the dates of pregnancies that haven’t been successful. It doesn’t change things and isn’t really helpful in terms of going on with my life. But this date seems different. It’s harder. How can I not remember it when it falls so close to my only child’s birth date? I recall laughing when I realised how near the dates would be, and what a surprising present that would be for Thomas. And it’s doubly difficult now, knowing that the pain of this passed date won’t ever be eased by a different due date, and a successful outcome.
The date is a reminder of how close we came, though it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not really sure what the point of this post is, other than to mark this feeling of sadness for myself. I wasn’t intending to write about it at all. But then I mentioned the date to a friend without giving real conscious thought, and I realised how much it has been playing on my mind, despite my efforts to suppress it.
Life now could be very different. As the cold closes in, I should be snuggling up with my newborn. Thomas should be learning about what it means to be a big brother, whilst we rediscover all the joys, and difficulties, of a tiny baby and adjust to being parents to two. I know that in the next few weeks I’ll reflect on this time three years ago, and wonder just how similar, or different, it might have been this time around.
I’ll never know, of course.
My heart is full of my son, so excited about his upcoming birthday and telling anyone who will listen that “I’m going to be three.” His enthusiasm and zest for life is infectious, and happily rubbing off on me.
But there’s always a but. Suffused with love as I am for my son, there is still a dark corner of my heart that echoes with emptiness. When he goes to bed, my arms feel doubly empty, with no baby to hold and soothe. I’ll miss this baby that never was for always. The empty space at the dinner table. The empty seat in the back of the car. The empty bedroom in our house. The space in my head and heart and arms.
It’s the loss of a dream. And in the week that it could have become a reality, I feel it where it hurts.