Oh it sucked. I'll be honest.
Monday, September 28th was bitter bitter bitter. I really thought that this year would actually be an improvement on last year, which wasn't good, but it was also easier than I had expected. This year was so very hard.
I'd been pretty rocky and emotional for about a week leading up to it. I hadn't made the connection between my emotional state and Nathaniel's birth anniversary, though, until September 25th rolled around. Then it hit me - everything clicked into place.
I woke up crying the morning of the 28th and only took occasional breaks from that throughout the day. It was so long and hard. People (who hadn't lost a child, mind you) had told me that having a healthy baby would make our loss of Nathaniel easier to bear. All lies. I cried even harder when I first saw Hazel that morning. She's a solid, daily reminder of what Nathaniel could have been like if he'd been healthy and lived. But then I become confused because if he had lived, Hazel would never have existed.
To top that confusion off, I'd felt a huge emptiness in my relationship with God since Hazel's traumatic birth; such a difference from the closeness that came following Nathaniel's even more traumatic birth. That loneliness threatened to overwhelm me on this last anniversary.
God has gotten my ear since then, though. He's drawing me back, and it's a daily submission on my part, but it's so good to know He's close and He cares. He carried me through that tough day and made October 2nd (the day we buried Nathaniel two years ago) pass by in a blink. He pulled me up out of that overwhelming state and I can praise Him for that.
Last night Nate and I attended the Baby Remembrance ceremony (for Infant Loss and Awareness Day) at Portland Adventist Medical Center. It was good to be back and remember Nathaniel. I love LOVE when they say his name aloud. They call each baby's name and place a leaf on a tree. The tree this year was covered with leaves - it was so sad and sobering.
Remember Lorrie Leno? She was the grief nurse that spent days with me during Nathaniel's labor and delivery. She organizes this event each year. Last year she asked me to read a poem, but because of bed rest I wasn't even sure I'd be able to attend. She asked again this year and so I said yes (and butchered the reading of the poem, by the way - goldfish, goldfinch, what's the difference). It was good to be involved, but I'm a nervous person in front of a crowd of strangers. She introduced me and shared a little bit about how we'd initially gotten to know each other, and I cried. It's one thing to be the person who brings it up all the time, to be the one reminding others of Nathaniel's very existence, but it's a whole new ball of wax when it's someone else remembering him to me.
(By the way, Lorrie, next year I'll actually eat a piece of your fudge! I got sidetracked talking with Peggy and missed my opportunity before it was all packed away! Nate said it was excellent, though.)
So we've made it through another year. It's ridiculous how time has flown by. We took a bouquet (gifted to Nathaniel by Amy at New Seasons, that wonderful woman) to Nathaniel's grave and talked with Hazel about him. She's too young to understand yet, but I want her to know she has an older brother waiting to meet her in heaven. I picture him there, as a healthy and whole man, like he should have been if everything had been perfect. I look forward to the day when I can meet him face to face and hold his hand. I think he'll know me. That's a hope I hold on to anyway.
I am so incredibly, eternally grateful for Hazel and her health. She's such a marvelous little person! She finally began crawling her little heart out. I'm so proud of her! She followed me around the house on hands and knees today.
Thinking through our loss of Nathaniel is so sad and difficult, but then I think of Hazel and I feel such pleasure. It's a strange thing to experience all these emotions at once. They seem so at odds. I'm so glad the day has passed. I feel some relief. And I'm blown away by how many women I know who are pregnant! Last count, sixteen. Can you believe it? What joy!