Monday, June 02, 2014

Birthday Eve

I thought that Benjamin's birthday wouldn't be emotionally difficult for me this year because I hadn't begun to feel anxious about it until quite recently (last year the beginning of May set me off), which actually gives me hope that eventually I'll be able to face Benjamin's birthday without any feeling of dread at all.

It's not so much that I'm worried about his health anymore. He's a pretty healthy kid. A little on the small side, perhaps, but overall quite healthy.

It's not so much that I'm sad he's giving up his babyhood, though I'm always a little sad about that (I think he's officially weaned (finally) and I'm a little sad about that). He's hilarious as a toddler. So cute. So cheerful. And he's just about sleeping through the night again (and that always helps children seem cuter).

It's a little more selfish than that.

I'm worried about me.

I've never had a baby turn two without having another baby on the way, so to say we aren't thinking about another one would be a pretty obvious lie. Tomorrow we'll have a 2 year old, a 4 year old, and a 6 year old (at least for a couple of months). People notice the pattern and ask about whether we're having another one. And we're not. Not yet. And I wish they wouldn't ask.

It doesn't help that our ward is on mega baby watch. Now, I don't begrudge a single woman of her baby (I just kind of want one, too), but ten babies have been born in 2014 alone (though my count may be a little low). At least five more are due by the fall. It seems like everyone and their dog is having babies, which means I get to hear things like, "Are you going to have one this year, too?" to which I think, "Do the," or I get caught taking a drink from the water fountain and am asked, "Is this an announcement or are you just thirsty?" to which I think, "Seriously so rude."

It also doesn't help that so many of the same people I was pregnant with when I was expecting Benjamin are now expecting again. It also doesn't help when months ago I mentioned that I was "in the hall with a screaming baby" and the person I was talking to said, "Tsk. He's hardly a baby anymore."

(Though this morning Benjamin declared, "I'm a baby!" and crawled into my lap, so that made me feel better (though can a baby really be considered a baby still if they're making such a declaration?)).

Truthfully, part of me is happy to not be pregnant because Benjamin was not an easy baby and I'm still tired. His birth wasn't easy and I'm still emotionally drained. He wasn't that easy to conceive either and I see a similar pattern in my cycle now so I'm going to guess that another baby won't be easy.

I feel a little broken. What if I just can't keep a baby safe for nine months anymore?

I'm not even thirty yet, but June is my birthday month, too, so I only have 1 year and a couple of weeks left in my twenties.

My aunt is battling breast cancer right now. She's tested positive for BRCA2 mutation. So now I'm waiting for my mom to be tested and if she also has the mutation then I will need to be tested and if I have the mutation as well then one of the best things to do is to have my ovaries removed by age 35.

I'm not sure that I want to be having babies after age 35, anyway, but I guess I just didn't realize how close that was until it was staring me in the face. Basically, I feel like my biological clock is ticking a little more loudly.

Andrew and I watched the first episode of How to Call a Midwife and it was a difficult show for me to watch, honestly. That poor woman who was on her 25th child (birthing 25 children is something I have no desire to ever do, just so we're clear) was particularly easy to relate to.

First I felt a camaraderie with her for having delivered a baby in a foreign language. I did it once and that was plenty. She did it twenty-five times. And her husband didn't even speak her language. What?

Then she went into premature labour, though I have to say kudos to her for sticking to her guns and keeping that baby with her. Having your baby taken away from you is rather traumatic. I think the whole Benjamin experience would have been much easier if we had been kept at the same hospital. Ultimately I'm glad he was life-flighted to where they had the equipment necessary to keep him breathing and save his life (duh) but I'm not sure taking babies away from mothers is good for maternal health (or the baby's health, for that matter). Having access to my baby would have made the situation so much better.

Of course, England's relatively close to sea level so I suppose they didn't have to worry about respiratory distress quite as much as we do in the mountains.

I'm torn over whether or not I should continue watching the show. Andrew's pretty positive he's through. He does not perform well in the delivery room—and has no desire to watch a show about it. I, on the other hand, love birthing stories, but I think it would be better to wait until my own traumatic birthing anniversary is over before I start up again.

Which brings me to the following question: How do other people do it?

I have a cousin who had her first baby prematurely about a year after Benjamin was born. He was even earlier than Benjamin and yet she's all gung-ho and gathering blankets to send to the NICU and attending NICU reunions and watching Call the Midwife without hyperventilating and seemingly celebrating her baby boy without melting into a puddle of tears.

I know other people like that as well. But I'm just not like that, I guess. Though kudos to me for waiting until yesterday before feeling panicky when last year those feelings lasted for nearly a month.

Anyway, I'm doing better today than I was doing yesterday. I finished making Benjamin's birthday present and I'm pretty excited about that. And the kids are pretty excited about starting his cake today. He wants a bus cake, as he said this morning: "Mmmm! Bus! Ona cake!"

Benjamin is a beautiful little boy and I'm so glad he's mine.

I'm also glad that I'm feeling exponentially less traumatized by his birthday this year than I was last year (as if this post is evidence of that—it's coming at the beginning of June rather than the beginning of May so give me credit for that!). Perhaps next year his birthday will just be happy for me (and if not next year then the year after that).


  1. No wonder you were so quiet yesterday. All this boiling around inside of you. I am so sorry for all of the worry and stress. I have to say that thinking of you having another baby is still a little bit stressful for me! Seriously, that year that Benjamin was born there WERE a ton of babies and or mothers with problems; that was not your imagination. And I would never, never watch Call the Midwife. Ever. I like hearing birthing stories, too, but hearing and watching are so different. Watching? No thanks. I love you, and I know that eventually your broken-ness will heal. All in good time.

  2. Wait - that was from me (Karen, not Emily), because she was logged on to my computer. Silly girl. Though I'm pretty sure she loves you, too!

  3. This post makes me want to hug you and tell you everything will be all better. I'm sorry for your worries.

  4. Oh, Nancy, I can only imagine! I hesitate to even try to relate because it's really not the same thing at all, but I had a bit of PTSD around Timothy's birthday this year too. If I felt it when he was only 4.5 weeks early (not even called a 'preemie' but a 'pre-term infant' instead) then you should feel quite justified in your own feelings! I've learned to just let the feelings come and not try to push them down (cause then they explode later!). Hang in there - you're awesome. :)

  5. I can't handle Call the Midwife, either. I started watching it last year when I was pregnant with Sterling and I was like, this is not the best programming for this time of my life. It just reminds me of all the worst things about pregnancy.

    I think your feelings are completely understandable and I hope you can work through them for as long as it takes to feel normal again...whatever normal is!

  6. Just stick to what you're doing. Your Father in Heaven knows what is best for you and will provide what you need when you need it if you just have faith and rely on Him, but rest your head on your husband's shoulder and turn to him as well for comfort. When and if the time is right you'll have another one. If not enjoy the ones you have, they are cute, smart, and always good for a laugh. I love you and may God be with you always.