We stayed up late even though the next day, Valentine's Day, was my last day of work before maternity leave. We were in a good mood, I remember. High on life - our family was about to be made complete. The next day was the final step toward parenthood - once maternity leave started, it was just a matter of days or weeks before our baby was here. We went to bed like any other night. Our lives as we knew them were over...we just didn't know it yet. Sometime between Haven's last kicks and the morning, she died.
I remember thinking the next morning that she must be sleeping in; usually she was pretty active in the morning. I even poked my belly a few times and said "wake up, sleepy-head." A coworker wanted to feel her move, but my belly felt soft. I was having Braxton Hicks contractions all morning, which felt sometimes like she was stretching inside me, so it wasn't until I returned from my farewell lunch that it dawned on me that she hadn't kicked yet that day.
I called Danny and waited for him to pick me up from work - I was distracted and a bit worried, but the possibility that she was gone didn't fully sink in. Someone handed me a big gift on the way out - they had missed my baby shower a few days before. It would sit in the back seat of our car with the car seat while I laboured to bring Haven into the world, silent.
Those days haunt me. They have played on a loop so many times in my mind since then and the sting has never left. I remember so much of that day in excruciating detail - what I ordered at lunch, what I was wearing, that I accidentally ripped my purse as I sat down, the winter storm raging outside. Later, my clothing piled on top of my winter boots next to my hospital bed as the look came into the nurse's eyes...
I wish I could let go of this trauma. I live with it pretty well most days, but it is always there under the surface.
One year. I should be planning a birthday party, wiping up drool, trying to get some rest. I should also be halfway through a second pregnancy, but I am laying in bed typing this with an empty womb and an empty, quiet house.
I hope it is not always so.