3-14-15 is the Pi Day of the century and the 3rd birthday that almost was. This year, I'm choosing to spend my time celebrating it rather than letting it remind me of my loss. I'm wearing my dorky pi t-shirt. I am buying apple pie for dessert. I'm trying to explain what Pi is to my kindergartener, even though I don't think she's quite ready to understand it yet. But despite this, a part of me still feels like posting an update in honor of Miri today.
Today she would have been 3 years old. It's hard to imagine. Annalie is 20 months old, quite a bit younger than Miri would be, and despite never having seen her and having no image to hold onto, I still picture her in my head as a newborn. I see friends' children who are about her age and wonder what she would be like now, but after that moment passes, I tend to default back to thinking of her as an infant. It's funny how other kids grow up and I see them for the age that they are, but I think Miri will forever be my baby.
I still silently think about her a lot, although it's not every day. In fact, this year marked a first that I never believed possible. I forgot about January 10th as a milestone. It wasn't until almost two weeks later that I even realized it had passed. We were taking a family trip to Kentucky, and Whitney got sick late at night on January 9th. I was up all night with her, and we ended up taking her to the ER. We were discharged in the morning, and I spent the day taking care of her and worrying about how sick she was. I was so busy with her, that I didn't even think about Miri and the loss. And I was perfectly fine with that. When it dawned on me that I missed the anniversary, it actually made me feel good. It's a sign that I'm still healing, living in the present, and moving on with life.
I do get reminded about it from time to time. A question came up during my promotion case this year--someone asked if the time I took off recovering from the c-section would not count as time employed in my position. (The rules for the promotion state that a candidate must spend at least 5 years employed in the position prior to promotion, and they were worried that I would be 7 weeks short of that.) But I'm happy to say that it wasn't an issue, and I just found out that my promotion was approved for the next academic year!
There are also occasions when I run into people I don't see often, and in catching up, I tell them about Whitney and Annalie. And they will say "I thought Annalie was older than that", remembering my pregnancy with Miri rather than with Annalie. Sometimes they'll say, "Only two kids? I thought you had more than that." And then I'll remind them that Miri died. But these situations are definitely happening less frequently than they used to, and going through the explanation is pretty matter-of-fact. There's not much emotion anymore with my explanation, and I don't feel bad making those acquaintances feel awkward for asking. At this point, I've resigned myself to the fact that that's just what happens. I don't feel bad about it, and they shouldn't either.
This past year, Joy bought a necklace for me that I wear almost everyday. It's an infinity symbol with three beads hanging off one of the loops--two pink ones for Whitney and Annalie, and a purple one for Miri. Ever since I lost her, I had wanted to get a piece of jewelry with some sort of symbol to commemorate her. One friend of mine has an angel's wing charm on a necklace for her stillborn son, but I didn't want anything that would make my loss obvious. I had thought of a pi charm for a necklace, or a ring with her birthstone. But nothing that I saw really excited me too much. And because it was never exactly what I wanted, I never bought anything. As it turns out, Joy knows me so well--the necklace she found is perfect. It's a little bit "mathy" and a little bit feminine. I love it, and I can wear it without drawing additional attention.
This past year has also brought an end to my friend Lindsey's stillborn tragedy. She gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl a few months ago. The joy that I felt for her when she told me of her birth was incomparable. In the same way that hearing of other stillbirth stories caused me to feel that pain again, experiencing her joy brought me back to that same feeling of pure bliss when Annalie was born. And, in preparing her baby gift, I was overwhelmed with generosity, and my faith in the goodness of people around the world was renewed. I found a piece of digital art that I fell in love with from Matej Kotula, a graphic artist in Slovakia. I wrote him and asked how I could purchase a copy to give to Lindsey. He was so moved by our stories, that he graciously just gave me the digital file so I could add text and print it off and frame it exactly how I wanted to. Joy helped with placing the text, which was my favorite quote from Cinderella--the song Whitney sang to us as we brought Annalie home from the hospital. "Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."
And it has come true. For myself and for all my friends who have experienced a stillbirth, we now all have been blessed with our rainbows. And I am grateful that life is so good.