Last night we had our friends and their two girls over to watch the fight (yes, we love boxing...who would have guessed it?). We've done this a couple of times before and I really enjoy it. The girls are 11 and 14 and we are in mutual admiration of each other. The older one told her mom after their first visit, "I wish BasilBean was my big sister" (I cried when my friend told me that). The little one bought and wrapped a gift for me for Christmas. It is a bib that looks like a ghost, a big white gumdrop ghost wearing green and white striped socks and brown shoes. Gracie tried to eat it, perhaps in her first show of rivalry with the baby, but I was able to rescue it before she did any damage.
After the fight we were all sitting around eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies when the topic of baby names came up. We don't plan to share the name with anyone until he is here and actually named. I realize that people differ on this topic but we feel like once he is named it is more likely that people will keep their opinions to themselves. When it is still theoretical, though, people seem to be more likely to think their opinions matter. Anyway, we haven't decided what we will name him so it isn't dishonest when we tell people that we don't know. That response yesterday prompted an onslaught of suggestions. As it went on for such a long time I began to wonder if the name William would come up. I vaguely wondered if my friend had told her girls about him, but I guess I assumed that they knew. Then it happened. In fact, it turns out that it is their dad's middle name. So I said that we wouldn't name him that because that is the name of our other baby. The expression on the little one's face told me that she clearly didn't know. I then explained in that way that I have become so adept at that he was born too early and was just too little to survive. She asked me when his birthday was and I told her that it was coming up on February 1st. She said she thought it should be celebrated and I told her that I do celebrate it, in my own quiet way. Her response to this was that it should be celebrated with a cake. Mr. C said that he thinks William's brother would like the cake. The room had a different energy through all of this, much more still, as her mom, dad, and older sister seemed to be just watching it all unfold. Somehow the room returned to its former lightness, though, and we all continued to share ideas about names and all of the different associations that we have with them.
William's day is on a Sunday this year, since last year was a leap year. It will be three years since we said goodbye to him. I haven't visited his grave since the one year anniversary. It is now almost five hours away, but even when it was only about 20 minutes away I went there only a total of three times: the day he was buried, the first Mother's Day--when the marker had just been placed, and then on the one year anniversary of his birth/death. It is a beautiful cemetery, but going there was very hard for me. I realize that for some people visiting the cemetery fills a need; I can imagine that this is the case for a variety of reasons. I'm not sure when I will go back there. Right now just writing about all of this is bringing up so much raw emotion that I don't think I could handle it, anyway. I am sometimes tempted to open up his box and look at all of his things, but, likewise, I am not sure what it would do to me. While I feel like each day is a little bit closer to a sense of security and confidence that this little guy will come home with us, I'm still not to that point yet. I wish I were. I remember reading on someone else's blog during her sub-pregnancy as she got to the point where she could write that she knew her baby would be coming home with her. It was so lovely to see it unfold, too, as she subtly became more and more optimistic over time. Others, I realize, are virtually holding their breath until their babies are safely in their arms--perhaps this is more often the case.
The room that will be the nursery is still the guest room. It is currently a nursery only in my mind's eye. That is, I should note, save the fact that last winter I painted it a lovely pale grayish blue. It is a very fashionable color, so it doesn't scream "nursery" or even "baby boy." Still, that is exactly why I painted it the color I chose--because a part of me was holding onto the hope that someday our little boy would live in that room. That I would rock him there, read him stories, put him down for naps...that he would crouch down on the floor there while he played with blocks or a little train. These wishes and dreams cannot be stifled, no matter how detached I have tried to be. My friend at work, the one who lost a daughter to anencephaly, told me a couple weeks ago that she thinks I need to start buying things for the baby. (She, by the way, had her 20 week ultrasound last week and her baby boy looks perfect.) She told me that she thinks that it would be good for us to start getting things because it will help us to feel more confident that he will be coming home with us. My response has been, and continues to be, that I will do it soon.
Just as it was important to get passed the loss date in terms of gestation, I think it may be significant that William's day is approaching. It was much easier last year than it was the first year. The actual day was hard last year, but the time leading up to it didn't seem to be even remotely as difficult. But that first year the pain was intense, the memories so vivid and uncontrollable. Three weeks ago I experienced something similar, but by comparison it was much less intense. Even still, I was a wreck for a few days. I guess this is another example of how non-linear and unpredictable grief can be. Throw into the mix the turbulence of a sub-pregnancy and the potentially mood altering effects of progesterone shots. Oh, and the lack of sunshine, could that be bringing me down as well?
Yes, this too shall pass. But sometimes I feel like I am on a roller coaster.