As I started writing this post, intending to talk about the due dates that we haven’t made it to, I realized that I’ve now had four different due dates, but I never did make it to a single one of them. I had never thought about that before… due dates are days we really look forward to (with great anticipation, and some fear and trepidation at times, too), but even when you have a baby and all is well, that doesn’t mean you were able to get to the due date. Both of my two kiddos (the ones that are her with us) came three weeks early. One was induced early, and one was forced to come via c-section. (Wanna guess which method of delivery I liked better?) But our other two kiddos (the two we never met), I only know one of their due dates. Does that make me an awful person? I don’t think so. I’ll level with you here… the first baby (first pregnancy) was one that I was extremely attached to. I saw that heartbeat flutter three separate times before the ultrasound where it wasn’t moving. I was invested in that child, and I loved that child with all I was. I definitely knew the due date, and after we found out that we lost that baby, it was deemed a “missed miscarriage” and I opted to have a D&C instead of continuing to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally. Many women remember the date they saw the baby on an ultrasound, or the date of the D&C, but I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to remember those days (although I do remember the general time of year), I was going to remember that baby on the due date. The due date was a happy date in my mind, one that I looked forward to, a day that could be kind of like remembering a “birthday”. I would really rather remember a happy day than a seriously awful day – wouldn’t you? With our second baby, he came three weeks early and I definitely know his birthday. =-) With our third baby, this is where it gets a little bit more complicated. We never saw that baby on an ultrasound, never saw the heartbeat, never really knew the official due date. Because of the complications from the first pregnancy (you can read more about that here: https://miscarriagesmatter.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/molar-pregnancies/), they wanted to be sure it wasn’t another molar pregnancy. I had to go through weekly HCG testing until levels were back down, but only had to do it twice. It was obviously not molar. Because I lost that baby at home, there was no testing done, and we don’t know what happened. We only know (from the one ultrasound I had), that I WAS pregnant – but the OB couldn’t see a baby on the office ultrasound. He was initially concerned that it could be a tubal pregnancy or something else equally as complicated, and if the 48 hour HCG testing that I had done after my appointment had been okay, we would have had to get more ultrasounds done to be sure what was going on. While I could look up the dates in my planner and find out when we lost that baby, I really don’t know what the due date would have been. I could have guessed within about a week of it, but I didn’t know an exact date, and somehow that just never seemed like the right thing to do. I don’t want to make up a date to celebrate. As quickly as we thought we were pregnant, we weren’t any more. I don’t think that it doesn’t matter, but I just never felt like I had to have a date for that one. With baby number four, he also arrived three weeks early – and I definitely know his birthday too. =-)
All that said, I think the due dates for the babies any of us have lost are important dates. I really do. I also think it’s important to tell you that I believe life begins at conception, which is why I count baby number three – even though I never did see it. Lives should be celebrated, and not just the lives we have with us – the ones that aren’t with us are equally as important. If they weren’t, then why would there be people who cremate their animals? Seriously, we value life. But I’m saying that children, before they are born, have just as much value as a life that is lost much later on. I don’t think there are levels of value here, I just think we all have value. A baby lost before birth, a baby lost at birth, a child lost when they were six weeks old, a teenager lost in an accident, an adult lost after a long, happy life. All of those losses matter. We just have to figure out how to celebrate, and what’s the best way to do it.
For my first due date, I was already 20 weeks pregnant with baby number two (no, that was definitely not planned that way – it was a huge surprise when that happened!). I took the day off of work and scheduled a massage appointment smack dab in the middle of the day. It was with someone that I had never seen before, who didn’t know me, and didn’t know my story. I was able to go, be pampered, and have a full hour where someone wasn’t asking how I was feeling (well, apart from the normal massage related questions – ha ha!), if everything was okay, talking about how sad I must be, or how I needed to move on. I spent all morning looking forward to that appointment, and all afternoon happy because of it. It was blissful, and such a blessing on that day! But I had to spend the whole day alone, and my hubby didn’t get home till after midnight – he was off with kids on a field trip and they left early, then didn’t get back till super late. So I did struggle with that part, being alone on a day when I felt like I really needed someone else to be around. Not even “with” me, but around, so I wasn’t alone. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Still, I enjoyed having the day off, and being able to celebrate that baby. With our third one, because I don’t know the day, I have made the first baby’s due date into the day I honor both kiddos. I recognize that they wouldn’t have both been due then, but it makes it easy for me – a happy date, and one that allows me to honor both of those kiddos. We don’t do anything as a couple or as a family, I do it on my own. This year, I stopped and got an ice cream cone in honor of the day. I just feel like it’s important to DO something, even if I’m the only one who knows about it. Am I alone in that feeling, or do other people do that too?
So all of this to say that the big days in our children’s lives should be celebrated, no matter how long we had them with us. Period.