thirty five

July 22, 2009

The strangest thing about my birthday this year is not the number, though it’s that scary “advanced maternal age” number.  The strangest thing is how grateful I am not to be reliving my last birthday.

This time last year I’d just been put on bedrest because my blood pressure was going up and because the local hospital was  terrified that Teddy would be born early, be born there, where they couldn’t do much for him besides load him onto a helicopter.  We’d also just received word from our insurance company that they wouldn’t cover our care at the hospital with the excellent NICU in Portland, where our more local doctors had sent us.  They’d cover us at another hospital with a big NICU, but considering that all of my doctors at this point seemed to think I’d go into premature labor any second, the prospect of traveling hundreds more miles to meet a new team of doctors at a new hospital was not just daunting, it was truly scary.

We’d set up the futon downstairs so that I could be where it was cooler, and I was under instructions to lie down as much as possible and also to try to relax.  I’d pulled out all my comfort books, trying to lose myself in imaginary worlds, but couldn’t quite succeed.  I drank gallons of water (the only thing I could do that anyone thought might actually help fend off early labor), distracted myself with reality tv, and cried a steady and despairing trickle of tears that left me blurry-eyed.

I felt hopeless, helpless, abandoned by everything good in the world.  I was convinced that my baby was doomed.

And it’s strange, because here I sit without my baby boy, and back then I held him inside me.  I would think that then would be better, somehow.  But that was as deep in despair as I’d ever been, and when I look back on my past self I can’t help thinking that she still has so much heartache to go through.  Hope would spring up again, our appeal to the insurance would go through and Portland would welcome us with all the kindness a city can give, family would gather to offer encouragement and comfort, but the grief following those last bright days would be overwhelming, immediate, and fiercely raw.

I still grieve, but I don’t have to do that, any of it, again.  Even if something calamitous happens now, I’m different, it would be different.

So I say goodbye to the year begun by my despairing and hollow-eyed past self, to the year I became a mother, to the year I first tasted bitter, raging grief.  I’d do it all again for a few more minutes with Teddy, but as that’s impossible, I’m just going to be grateful that this year of my life is new and different, shadowed by grief but not (I think and hope) solely defined by it.

Welcome, thirty five.



  1. Happy Birthday!!! You have such courage and seem so kind, it is no wonder Teddy chose you for his mom. And your new baby is just as lucky to have you too.

  2. Happy birthday Erica. What a wonderful post.

  3. Happy birthday. Wishing you a happy, healthy year with a joyous birth day within it.

  4. Happy birthday, Erica.
    All wonderful wishes for you… xoxo

  5. I wish you a peaceful and good-luck-filled year.

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