March 15. The date is seared in my mind. Of course, all the milestone dates of this pregnancy that ended too soon get counted automatically in the background of my thoughts. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also know the dates when we would have first heard your heartbeat, when we would have found out your sex, and when you would have reached the official point of viability. But today is the day we should have finally met you.
It isn’t your birthday, although it should be. I really wanted to recognize you out loud today, baby L, and for some reason the words haven’t come easily. What do we even call this day, the day you weren’t born? How can I speak of it when we don’t have any good language to describe this type of day?
It’s not a loss anniversary. That won’t come until July, the year mark of the date we found out that you were gone. And that date will be a hard milestone to pass. But your estimated due date is about something else. It’s not about losing you as much as it is about what we are missing now that you’re not here with us.
For the last 9 months I’ve thought a lot about what my life would look like on this day. Would we be expecting another baby? Or would we still be slogging along with IVF almost a year after starting? What would I be doing at work during the time I was supposed to be out on leave? What about our marriage? Has it weathered losing you? Are we struggling? Will we ever be able to feel happy and fulfilled again?
Truthfully, not a lot has gone according to plan. It has been harder than I could have imagined. In these 9 months we’ve transferred more embryos. We’ve lost two other babies and have had other embryos never implant at all. As each treatment cycle comes and goes I wonder if we will ever parent a living child. I wonder if we will make it through to the other side. I wonder if we will drown in this grief and never recover.
L, we wish you were here. And I wish we had a better word to describe the significance of this date, your would-have-been birthday. It’s a day I know I won’t ever forget.