Today is my little boy’s birthday.
Three years ago, I heard my amazing doctor begging the sweet nurses around me to get me to the OR, FAST. She was 8 ½ months pregnant herself, and I knew things were not great when she began pushing my bed as fast as she could to the OR for an emergency C-section. Labor had gone on for almost 24 hours, and nothing much had happened until she broke my water and I began to bleed.
I prayed for every hand that was about to touch my body and my son’s body to be guided by God’s hand and I prayed for the protection of my son.
When they brought him to me for the briefest of moments before they had to med-evac him to Georgetown Hospital, the NICU doctor told me he was very, very sick.
I thought she was a liar and being far more dramatic than need be. After 10 years of infertility and treatments and a beautiful, normal pregnancy, I was not going to lose my healthy, overdue son because of some rare labor complication.
But I did.
The next day, he died. In his father’s arms. Without me. Without me ever even getting to hold him.
Three years later, simply typing those words stings as much as it ever has.
And here it is. His birthday.
I still find myself at a loss as to what even to do. How to…what’s the word? Celebrate? Honor? Remember? Recognize?
I know so many remarkable women who like me, know what the pain of losing a baby or babies feels like. Many of these mothers do amazing things for their child’s birthday. Organize balloon or lantern releases…big parties to celebrate their time on this earth…start foundations and organizations in their memories.
Just amazing things.
Then there’s me.
I find myself at a loss for what to do. I have no ‘causes’ I want to really throw myself into. Undiagnosed Vasa Previa complications are what killed Matthew, but make no mistake–I had excellent prenatal care and my Vasa Previa was a really rare manifestation of an already pretty rare complication. Live, healthy deliveries almost always take place if Vasa Previa is prenatally diagnosed and managed, but sometimes, even with the best care and all the screening in the world, it’s just not to be found. I’m not exactly the poster child for Vasa Previa Awareness.
I take part in a drive to sponsor Christmas parties for children in Kyrgyzstan in Matthew’s memory, but honestly, that’s something I’d probably do whether or not he’d lived because that country and those children are so close to my heart.
We have a piece of chocolate cake for him, as that was one his favorite things when I was pregnant with him. (I am not a big chocolate fan, but boy! I sure did crave a particular kind of chocolate-chocolate cake when I was pregnant and he would go crazy for it!)
Our ‘tradition’ is to put up our Christmas tree on his birthday, so Luke will always know it is with gratitude and hope in Christ that we celebrate Christmas. The past two years have not necessarily lent themselves to that tradition, though, simply due to demands with job, travel or Luke.
So every year, I get here and feel sort of like a lackluster mother.
Wishing for and thinking that there should be something…something that could really and truly be just his every year and would make the sting of not planning a birthday party just a little less intense.
Birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, random Tuesday in June…in the end, they are all just days.
Days I miss him.
Days I dream of him.
Days I wonder about him.
Days without him.
But every day…always…I am so grateful for his life and the gift I was given when he was given to me to mother.
Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy. Your Mama loves and misses you every second of every day.