It could have been today. Or yesterday. Or last week. But your birthday isn’t coming. That possibility came and went that day in the doctor’s office when our doctor hunted for your heartbeat. It went that day when I walked across the hall to the ultrasound room, clutching my husband’s hand as my stomach knotted up into knots of knots. It went when the nurse put the wand to my swollen belly, and I saw that cute little profile. Still. Frozen in time. Unchanging for eternity. Gone. Your day of joining this world as a living, breathing child with parents who would celebrate your birthday was gone. Stolen from you. And us.
My heart broke that day. I swallowed hard and felt the shards of it swelling up from somewhere deep within my chest. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt the hot numbness wash over me. This can’t be real. This isn’t my life. This isn’t how this day is supposed to happen.
As my husband pulled me into our car, I clutched him and felt even worse. I was overcome by the feeling that I let him down. I let our baby down. I let myself down. My body failed us. I am broken. This is my fault. How could this happen to us? And I knew that it went. Your birthday wasn’t coming.
As I lay in the hospital for three days, my body refusing to deliver my precious baby girl, I knew that your birthday wasn’t coming. I knew. I wept. I begged. I pleaded. I cried out to God, asking him why he was breaking my heart in such a way. I begged God to carry me through the physical act of delivery. My husband begged me to let the nurse give me medicine so I could sleep. To numb my pain that he couldn’t bear to watch. I refused. I wanted to be coherent and present of mind when my body did decide to do what it must.
And you came. After 41 hours of emotional hell, you came. And you were perfect and beautiful. You were tiny, but I held you in my arms and took in all of your beauty. I memorized your little nose, and studied your slender fingers. And I wept. I clutched my mom’s hand as I watched your daddy hold you. And I wept. I hurt. My heart broke again. Today was not your birthday. April 6th is the day we said hello and goodbye, not your birthday.
And so in the days, weeks, and months that came after this, I waited. I waited for this day to come. I knew it was coming. September always follows August. What I didn’t know was how it would feel. And so September is here now, and so are the feelings. They’re awful; stabbing and sharp. Fresh and new. Vivid memories of sadness that haven’t yet began to fade. And so as I look in the mirror at my tear-stained cheeks and red-rimmed eyes, I tell myself that I know that you’re whole now. I know that you’re with me, a corridor of my heart dedicated just to you. But what hurts the most is waking up today knowing that today could have been your birthday, sweet girl.