We had just celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. We had recently returned to our home state of Michigan, after living in Louisiana, because my husband couldn’t handle the heat. It was a tough choice because he loved the spice of the food, but he hated the fact that the moment he opened the door to step outside, he immediately began to sweat. Ah, humidity…
In July, a few weeks after our anniversary, we travelled back to Louisiana to attend my best friend’s brother’s wedding.
That was when we decided to start trying to conceive.
It would take another six months and a dose of Clomid for it to actually happen.
I had been tracking my temperature, trying to determine when I would ovulate (I didn’t ovulate very often; not one of those 28-day cycle girls). It was late January, almost my birthday. My temperature had spiked and wasn’t dropping, like it normally did. After about five days of consistently high temps, I took a pregnancy test and those blue lines appeared almost instantly.
I remember crawling back into bed and just laying there, shocked that it had finally happened.
I remember my o.b. insisted my due date was early October, because she used one of those little wheels that based everything on twenty-eight day cycles. I told her she was wrong; the baby was due in late October, somewhere around the 20th. For my entire pregnancy, she did not believe me, until October 5th came and went and I was measuring 38 weeks.
Because I was.
I remember trying to hide my pregnancy in those early weeks, because I had just applied for an internal promotion and I was worried the hiring manager wouldn’t take me on if she knew I was pregnant. The problem was, I started showing pretty much immediately, and a co-worker I wasn’t even that close with called me out. Luckily, she was cool and didn’t share her discovery until I was ready.
Labor was, as far as I could tell, reasonably normal. Delivery was a whole other ballgame though. The baby didn’t want to come out. After four hours of on and off pushing, my doctor threw in the towel and recommended a C-section. I remember having a breakdown at that point.
You see, I’m a planner, and back then, I did not handle unexpected change well. (I got better at it after having kids, because, well, you really have no choice at that point.)
I had read every book I could get my hands on about vaginal delivery, but it never occurred to me that I might need a C-section. So I skipped over all those parts. That meant I had no earthly idea what to expect from that moment on.
It was probably best that I hadn’t read anything ahead of time, because my C-section was anything but typical. From a far too high tolerance of the epidural (“Yes, I can still feel that knife slicing through my stomach!”) to a previously unknown allergy to morphine, it was definitely an eventful Sunday evening.
His head was flat on one side when he was born. He had a terrible sense of direction, apparently, because each time I pushed, he went sideways. The flatness was still there for his three-month pictures.
He was an easy baby. Good sleeper, took to the breast like a champ, wasn’t fussy.
He was an early walker. Early talker. Crazy smart. Until he hit the difficult middle school years, he was generally a happy, easygoing kid.
Oktoberfest and Halloween parties. Pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples. Fall was such a beautiful backdrop for birthday parties.
I remember this day, every year, since 2002. I remember the happiness and joy, for thirteen years.
There were not enough birthdays.
Today should have been his eighteenth birthday. We should be celebrating. It should be a joyous day. Happy.
Instead, this morning, I stood over a rock with his name engraved on it, and cried. Cried for what I lost. Cried for the future that won’t ever happen. Cried for my daughter, who lost her brother. For my husband, who lost his son. My family, who lost a grandson, nephew, cousin.
On my son’s birthday, I cried.
Because I remember.