There are birthdays and anniversaries all over Janine Rudin’s calendar next week. Some are to be celebrated – and some will bring devastation like they always do.
As I get ready for my son’s birthday, I feel anxious and a bit panicky and there’s an apprehension that just won’t budge.
My son died as a newborn baby and he would have been nine on his next birthday, which is next week. There are no presents to buy, there is no party to plan – it is heartbreaking how this day taunts me each year, another year my boy is not here.
Each year, so far, has been different – we had a beach party on his 1st birthday for the friends and family who had supported us. On his second, I couldn’t get out of bed to face the world. Now I just keep going as well as I can, with work and family, but I always take some time to stop and remember my boy, to think of what life might have been like with three children rather than two.
I allow myself time to close my eyes, to think of his face, his hair, to remember his smell and to remember as many details of his short life as I can. I allow myself to truly miss him, to feel that pain. I miss him every day, but I distract myself from the details because missing him is unbearable.
“At this time of year, I can get irritated and short tempered that life has continued; that I’m still expected to deal with the small stuff when my boy is dead.”
The month before his birthday can be exhausting, as the sadness builds up. I am often apprehensive about the sadness that takes over on his birthday – for a few minutes or a few hours – when my tears fall freely and I allow myself the space to think about him and all we have lost.
I have experienced crippling anxiety at this time of year, as well as a desire to run away, as well as a deep depression.
At this time of year, I can get irritated and short tempered that life has continued; that I’m still expected to deal with the small stuff when my boy is dead. I can feel raw and maybe a little vulnerable.
My boy’s birthday is part of a week of birthdays – his sister’s three days before and his Daddy’s the day after. Three days later it is the anniversary of his death – so it is a rollercoaster week of celebrations and sadness.
It should be the happiest week of three birthdays; it should be a week of chaos as I buy, hide and then wrap presents and organise parties and special treats. And of course I still do that for my girl and my husband but, for me, it is also tinged with sadness that I can not do any of this for him. Christmas hits me for the same reasons.
The day usually starts early, some coffee on my own in the living room, just as it did on the day my waters broke on the sofa. And then I get through my day, often fighting the urge to hide in bed.
This year I am at work all day and then I am going to help my husband celebrate his birthday – it is going to be tough at times and I might struggle to be my bouncy self, but I will get through it for another year.
Maybe one day his birthday will pass without the emotion and the apprehension but do I want it to be just another day? I think I need a day to reflect and focus on my beautiful boy.
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Antenatal teacher, postnatal group leader, birth & baby specialist, writer, mother, wife, friend, me. My time is spent with my family, working with parents and trying not to eat all the biscuits. @BirthandBabyCo