It’s been nearly 3 years since losing baby Micah, and while those darkest days of grief seem to be behind me, my baby’s due date will forever remain bittersweet.
I had found out I was pregnant in October of 2014. This had come after an early loss earlier that year and some health issues that would likely make it more difficult to conceive. I was surprised when the pregnancy test was positive, and I started looking forward to another summer baby. I was given a due date of June 17, which also happened to be my daughter’s birthday. Although I thought it unlikely that my children would share a birthday, this date had forced my imagination into overdrive.
I had pictured double the birthday fun each year on June 17. There would be two cakes, an abundance of glowing candles to blow out, piles of presents, and a big sister who would dote on her younger sibling for that first special birthday and all the birthdays following. There would be bundles of birthday balloons decorating the house, making their way from room to room as the children joyfully batted them into the air.
I had imagined siblings who would always have a special bond through their shared birthday. I pictured them growing into adulthood, old age even, and still celebrating their shared birthday together, perhaps even after I was no longer there to celebrate with them.
I had let myself imagine these things for several weeks, until that day in January of 2015 when my water suddenly broke as I was approaching the halfway mark of my pregnancy. I stared at the ultrasound screen, my baby’s heart beating steadily, while the doctor told me that my body would likely go into labor within a few days and that my baby would most certainly die.
It was nearly 3 weeks before I went into labor, nearly 3 weeks in which I could do nothing but wait for my baby to enter into heaven, before even making an entrance into the world. During that waiting period, those images of birthdays I had dreamed up suddenly changed.
Those candles on that cake were now extinguished, not from a giddy child blowing them out, but from the absence of a child who was not there to celebrate. Those birthday balloons I imagined were now deflated, just as my body displayed the evidence of my deflated womb. I pictured just one cake, proof of there being one child missing. I pictured my daughter celebrating her birthday alone, with no sibling to share in the festivities.
My baby was born still on January 31, 2015 and as time passed I remembered how far along I should be each week. As that June 17 date approached I couldn’t help but think that I should be giving birth to my baby. I only vaguely remember my daughter’s birthday that year as my mind was clouded in grief. What was supposed to be a lighthearted day turned out to be a day heavy with sorrow. I know that we celebrated my daughter on that day, but it was a day that also marked the memory of a child whose birthday would never be celebrated. I felt guilty for not being able to fully embrace that day as my daughter’s birthday. I felt guilty that her presence, and the blessing in celebrating another year with her didn’t feel like enough for me.
While my daughter’s birthday celebrations have been more fun and lively for the past two years, I still imagine what life would be like if baby Micah were here to celebrate with us. I still imagine what fun it would be to celebrate two of my children’s birthdays at the same time. But instead of reverting back to the nightmare of loss and grief at the mention of this date, my mind seems to have moved towards daydreaming, with wistful thoughts of what baby Micah’s life might have looked like and how super sweet this day might have been. And perhaps because of my loss, I can more fully appreciate the blessing in watching my daughter turn another year older.
So, June 17. It’s a significant date. The birth of my daughter who brings such joy to my life and an observation for a life that could have been.