by Kristina Mulligan
May 13th. To me it’s known as “the day that never was.”
After a grueling battle with infertility, I finally received the news I was pregnant. We would finally make the leap from two to three. I was ecstatic, my husband was over the moon, and our loved ones were equally full of anticipation to meet the newest Mulligan. Our first ultrasound at six weeks introduced us to the tiniest little blob I’ve ever been in love with. Everything was on track, heartbeat was strong, and May 13th was determined as the date we’d become parents. Thirteen is my favorite number, one that’s shown up in so many ways throughout my life. It was serendipity.
Of course, I knew that not all babies are born on their due date. In the back of my mind, I actually believed that we’d have an anniversary baby. Our wedding anniversary is a couple of weeks later and I always thought that it would be quite lovely to doubly celebrate this day. In any case, May 13th was the date. I planned everything around that day. It was a Saturday that year, a perfect day for a baby to be born and welcome visitors from all over to visit us as a family of three.
And just as quickly as it was…it wasn’t.
May 13th was no longer our day.
And it’s now a reminder. Of the celebration, the pain, and the life that could have possibly been.
Each year, this date passes and while no one else sees it as significant, I can’t help but be consumed by self-deprecating thoughts and pain-filled memories. If my body didn’t betray me, betray us, what would life look like?
Parents of premature babies deal with a complex version of grief. It’s complicated to grieve a living being, which also adds a level of guilt to the sadness. We are given a deep, unparalleled sense of gratitude but our hearts also feel pain that, even years later, is still an open wound.
It’s hard to say how long May 13th will pierce right through my fragile heart. Maybe for a little while, possibly forever.
But today, I’m still grieving, burdened with guilt and sadness on the inside. On the outside, I celebrate my ferocious toddler on his once-proclaimed birthday.