It's 8:19pm (my time) right now. Two years ago at this exact time, I was pacing around my house, trying to move my labor along, while the last few trick-or-treaters came by. I remember, oddly enough, that "Knocked Up" was on TBS while I was walking from the living room to my bedroom and back. I had laid down to take a little nap when my back started really hurting. I had been having contractions throughout the day, but suddenly they were like waves of fire down and across my back. My mother and I began timing them, and before I know it, around 11:30pm on Halloween night, I was headed to the hospital.
My labor was fairly long, and when I got there, I was only about 4cm dilated. They decided to keep me, and I remember realizing that I was in for a long journey if this was how much pain I was in at 4cm. I could not imagine getting to 10cm. I couldn't even think about it. The next day and a half are a blur to me now, so thankfully I have them written in my personal journal because I know one day I'll need to remember, or my daughter may want to know. Those are questions that only I can answer for her, and I want to be able to answer them honestly.
I remember around 11pm on November 1st (after I had been there for almost 24 hours), my doctor came in and started discussing a c-section. He said he would wait until noon the next day (November 2nd), and if I hadn't given birth by then, then we would have to seriously consider it. Luckily, around 4 a.m., my water broke and woke me out of a drug-induced sleep (probably due in part to my epidural). About two hours later, the pressure became unbearable and I buzzed the nurse in. She said she was going to "check me," and she lifted up my gown. Without even touching me, she said "oh my God," and paged my doctor. I distinctly remember saying to her immediately after, "will I have my baby sometime today?" She replied, "honey, you're going to have a baby in about 30 minutes." And sure enough, little Arianna was born at 6:31 a.m. Could my nurse have been more amazing?
Last year, I don't remember her birthday being so hard. I think I was expecting it to be extremely painful for me, so when it really wasn't, I was almost relieved. This year, though, I think I felt more brave. I think I figured that since I handled the first birthday (what I thought would be the hardest), I could definitely handle her first birthday. However, for some reason, this year it seems much harder. Maybe because she's no longer a baby...no longer just lying around or crawling around. No longer stumbling around learning how to walk, or babbling as she learns how to talk. Now she's a toddler. She's not only walking around, but running. Not only talking, but articulately calling herself by name, and someone else "mama." The magnitude of what I've lost has really sunk in in these past few days alone. I didn't just place my baby to be raised by another family. I placed my toddler, my little kid, my young adult, my adult.
I've found myself wishing I could go back in time. Wishing I could rewind the clock back two years, so I could be pregnant again at this very moment, unaware that I would get to meet my baby in less than 36 hours. Unaware of whether she would look like me or her birth father. Unaware of how much I would love her the very second I laid eyes on her curly head of hair and heard her cry for the first time. I would give anything to be that naive again. I would give anything to go back and have the chance to leave the hospital with her. That's not to say I regret my choice - but it's definitely not easy. And definitely not at this time of the year.
How do you cope when birthdays roll around? Especially if you don't have visits with your child on or around their birthday, just like I don't?