Birthdays

Starting with my second birthday, as far as my memory serves, I was not a fan of aging. I was mortified by the attention, appalled with the ceremonies, and dreaded the concept of growing old. I swore off birthday cake and the whole candle blowing out event (as if that was going to prevent the numbers from going up), even though it was Cinderella themed, and I cried and cried because I did not want to get older. I wish I could tell you what I was worried about then.

I know what I’m worried about now, and I hate it.

My 20’s were annoying. I never liked the experience. I could hear my clock ticking in the background. I remained patient because I had no other choice.

On my 29th birthday in 2013, I was about 4.5 months pregnant with Jasper. I was barely showing, but it didn’t stop me from wearing my Buddha Belly shirt to show him off. That shirt still makes me smile. This birthday was different because it was the birthday that I felt my life was really starting. I had a beautiful baby boy on the way. I was happy. My niece was in labor with her baby girl that day. She was delivered that morning, perfect. It was declared that we were birthday buddies. She, Jasper belly, and I took a photo together for the first and last time. I was very excited that he would have a cousin so close in age. I had hoped that those two would have a relationship similar to their mothers’.

Well, how it used to be anyway, before he died.

Turning 30 was miserable. I psychologically declared it had some kind of significance. I had decided that since I had no living children then, I was never going to. 31 and 32 are a blur. Maybe 32 was better-ish? I was undergoing another IVF cycle with a new doctor so I had some hope. Well, we know how that turned out. I did move to a better place. That certainly helped. But, this better place was without my son. He is so deeply missed. His absence is stronger each day. In some ways, the better place made things more difficult. I wonder how he would like the changing leaves in the fall and the snowy winters. If he were alive, we probably never would’ve even moved here.

Here I am facing 33, my aging uterus and ovaries mocking me, taunting me. Everything I do and feel is empty. My arms are empty. I know that I’ll never be able to replace Jasper, and I don’t want to. I want to know what it’s like to be recognized as a mother. I want to be able to recognize myself as a mother. I want to know what it’s like to receive macaroni necklaces and finger paints. I want to be a grandmother one day. I know that I’ll always be Jasper’s mother. I want to spoil grandbabies and send them back home to their parents full of sugar. I don’t know if I ever will. My own mother was 37 years old when her first granddaughter was born. My sister had her first granddaughter at 40. Here I am, stuck in space while time keeps moving forward.

I see my future as the mean, old, scary, lonely woman next door that the children are afraid of. I already feel myself growing a detest for children. I avoid children, not because they make me sad but because I feel extremely irritated by them. The way they sound. I wonder if I’ll find happiness in being that mean, old, scary, lonely woman one day… Maybe I’ll find joy in scaring neighborhood children away. Perhaps.

I still don’t want the cake, even Cinderella cake. I don’t want to blow out the candles. I don’t want gifts. I want to ignore it and let it skip over me. I want to be 29 and growing my perfect little boy again. I want to be happy like I was then, before I knew that babies die, before I knew what it was like to mother a child that nobody else could see, before I knew the pain and suffering of a grieving husband and my inability to help, despite my intense desire to mother and nurture.

Amber Smiley

Amber Smiley

Amber met Chris when she was in high school and married him as soon as she could at the age of 18. She was certain that she wanted children right away but that was not how things were going to work out. They lived in Las Vegas for over 10 years before they finally became pregnant via intervention and plenty of patience. Jasper’s heart stopped at 40 weeks and that was the beginning of what has become a sometimes brutal and sometimes hopeful, new way of life.
They knew they wanted more children and have since suffered many early miscarriages during the process of multiple IVF and IUI cycles which have left them with broken hearts.Feeling defeated and alone, the bereaved parents moved to Connecticut in search of a much needed new start.

Amber was inspired to work towards becoming a therapist during her process of trying to find support after her loss. She is currently a freelance graphic designer, artist and marriage and family therapy graduate student. She takes comfort in the idea that their son was a driving force for her to help other people through a time that she and her husband felt so alone.
Amber Smiley

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Amber met Chris when she was in high school and married him as soon as she could at the age of 18. She was certain that she wanted children right away but that was not how things were going to work out. They lived in Las Vegas for over 10 years before they finally became pregnant via intervention and plenty of patience. Jasper’s heart stopped at 40 weeks and that was the beginning of what has become a sometimes brutal and sometimes hopeful, new way of life. They knew they wanted more children and have since suffered many early miscarriages during the process of multiple IVF and IUI cycles which have left them with broken hearts. Feeling defeated and alone, the bereaved parents moved to Connecticut in search of a much needed new start. Amber was inspired to work towards becoming a therapist during her process of trying to find support after her loss. She is currently a freelance graphic designer, artist and marriage and family therapy graduate student. She takes comfort in the idea that their son was a driving force for her to help other people through a time that she and her husband felt so alone.

2 thoughts on “Birthdays”

  1. Hi Amber
    I’m so sorry for your loss Jasper is a lovely name. I know the feeling of not being recognized as a mother even though us bereavement mums are very much so mothers.
    What I would say to you is please don’t focus on age. I had my first and for now only angel baby at 34 when I was pregnant with him I had the cruel remarks like “about time”, ” your clock was ticking” or the condescending ” that’s a good age to have a baby”.
    After his loss those comments have really stung.
    Their are plenty of women who start their families at 40+ .
    What we’ve been through is devastating enough without feeling like our age is mocking us.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      You’re very right and I thank you for the reminder. Sometimes it does get caught up in my head this way but of course there are plenty of people that have children much later. I think grief really has a way of amplifying anxiety.

      I do feel like my age is mocking me, but I really have always had some unresolved issue with age even before. It’s something I should explore and try to figure out.

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