"WE MADE IT, BITCHES."
Apologies to my cuss-sensitive readers, but I needed the emphasis. I went with "Happy 1st Birthday, Ro." The "we made it" sentiment will just have to roll down my face as I gaze upon her sitting in front of the cake in her grandma-made Dorothy costume with her plush Toto stuffed in a basket.
You know what we've been through, guys. This week will always be a bittersweet one. The first baby's due date was November 2, 2013. We laid her ashes to rest on October 29, 2013. And then we have our Rainbow Baby (this is an actual term for the one who lives after one who has been lost), Ro, who was born on her father's 37th birthday, a year ago tomorrow.
I took a week off of work to prep for this party, because this is MY PARTY, and I have come close to tears on multiple occasions, as is my RIGHT. Ro has no clue what's going on--she does refer to the dog as "Dodo," and will tolerate the ruby slipper slip-on shoecovers for a short time, but the cake, the balloons, the ridiculous mural painted on the side of an old refrigerator box; the pennant-style banner that I made with one-too-few letters and then had a mini freakout about? All that crap is for me. This is the pretend-Pinterest party that I had been thinking about all those months with her kicking inside of me, worrying that she may show up too early and not come home with us just like the first one.
No one else knows that terrifyingly disgusting feeling of water breaking too soon, the cerclage tied so tightly that what little walking I could do I did with a hobble, the horse-gauge needles stuck into my backside every seven days, and having to lie down and pray that the weekly ultrasound was going to say things were holding steady.
Medical people can conceptualize a pubic symphysis, but like my physical therapist, Kay, said (as she decided to treat me herself the first day she came to evaluate me and assign me to someone else) nobody can understand the agony of a separated pelvis like someone who's done it themselves (she did it running a marathon). Worse was the useless, helpless feeling you get when all you can do for your child is to sit in bed or a couch and desperately try to figure out nursing while your husband, mother-in-law and mom bring the baby to you and take her away to do all the diapering, bathing, walking around and other stuff you wish you could do. And it murders your hormonal heart when you go through all that to get the baby and she doesn't want much to do with you.
All that said, the scary pregnancy, the fiery hoops I had to somersault through, the horrible after-delivery recovery and post-partum rage (not officially diagnosed, but now that I'm far enough away from it, I'm pretty sure that's what I had)--ALL OF THAT was a cakewalk compared to how emotionally treacherous it was for me to go back to work and find I had to work twice as hard in two thirds of the time.
This is not to say that I think I had it any worse than any other parent. We all have our struggles. I have SO MUCH HELP, you guys. Seriously. My friends came to see me with food and love and support while I was on bedrest and when I was stuck at home. My mother-in-law came on the day after Ro was born and stayed to help for 12 days. My parents still come over every day. And my husband, he had to do much more than the average dad at the beginning. He does a lot more than the average guy today, too. Granted, he should be doing a lot for his own kid, but that doesn't mean it's not appreciated. I would never have dreamed to make it through nearly two years without all these people.
So we are having a party. I know I have bitten off more than I can chew. This week "off" was a lot harder than the usual working week. But I'm doing it for the 21-months-ago me, the 19-months-ago me, the 17-months-ago me, the 12-months-ago me, who didn't know if heartbreak was once again on the horizon, and especially the 3-6-months ago me, who didn't know if I could hold it together for another single minute, let alone months and years.
We made it, BITCHES.