So, today’s the day. It’s finally here. It’s our due date. The culmination of 9 months of love and longing. The day we’d finally meet our precious little princess. The day our lives would change forever and mark the start of our own family legacy. For most people, the nursery would be decorated by now, the stock of baby grows and nappies overflowing, hospital bag packed, baby name shortlist at the ready and that extra hot curry devoured to bring on labour. Sound familiar?
But this wasn’t to be our version of the story. We have no nursery, no baby grows, no hospital bag, in fact no baby waiting to be born. We have a different story…
…On Friday 25th December 2015 my husband Sukhie and I arrived home after an amazing holiday in Mexico to the best Christmas present ever! Those two blue lines, solid, dark and affirmative – we were pregnant, for the 7th time! Our 6 previous pregnancies all ended in miscarriage before 12 weeks so we were cautious right from the start of this pregnancy. We slowly but surely kept reaching key milestones, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks. While our journey in this pregnancy progressed further than the six before it, it was still destined to end early and abruptly. With 4 months of the pregnancy to go, I suddenly started to get intense contractions, on arrival at the hospital my waters broke and after two days in labour our sleeping baby girl Jiya was born, straight into the arms of Heaven. I will document the details of this pregnancy in a future blog, but today’s blog is about a due date that was never meant to be.
…Today, Tuesday 30th August 2016 is the day my baby girl was due to be born. I’ve spent the last few weeks wondering how I’d feel on this day. I’ve conjured up images of not being able to get out of bed, of being angry at my friends and family for not remembering the importance of this day, of being at a complete loss and feeling at my lowest point in life. But now that it’s finally here, I can honestly say I feel none of the above.
Yesterday we released a balloon to commemorate this day. We released it along the River Avon in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a place where 3 months earlier we scattered my father’s ashes. It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and funny looking playful clouds dotted around. We found the perfect spot, said a few words, took a few photos and were finally ready to release Jiya’s balloon. We let go. We watched it climb higher and higher into the sky, not wanting to take our eyes off it. People often say they’ve had a cathartic moment and I never really understood what that meant, until today. Releasing the balloon wasn’t sad, it wasn’t painful, it was cathartic. We have been bursting with love for Jiya since the day we found out we were expecting. It was like we’d poured some of our love into the balloon and released it for Jiya to catch up in Heaven. Sounds silly, but it’s how I felt. I felt lighter. I felt cathartic. I felt happy to have done something special and symbolic for my baby and was hoping she was watching and waiting to catch the balloon.
I suspect the balloon release had something to do with it, but today I woke up with a sombre smile, I wasn’t offended that virtually none of my friends and family remembered what today was and I don’t feel like my life has ended. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather be waddling into hospital, screaming through labour and crying tears of joy as my baby girl is placed into my longing arms. I’d give anything to hold my baby, to do normal things like feed her, wrap her up in her blanket, fit her into her car seat and take her home. To announce the birth on Facebook, have visitors come by and say how beautiful she is, to do the normal things a new parent does – the feeds, changing nappies, cuddles, bath time and even the sleepless nights. Oh how I long to have those sleepless nights. But I can’t have any of this. It wasn’t the destined end to my pregnancy.
Instead I woke to a quiet house, so quiet I could hear the birds chirping in the distance and the ticking of the damn clock sounded louder than ever. I got out of bed. I wandered round the house aimlessly. I wasn’t sure what to do. What does one do on a day like this? Why haven’t I heard other people’s stories from their due date that never was? Why don’t I know what to do?
“I know, I’ll write this blog post”. But when I sat down and stared at the screen, the words just didn’t come. I was at a loss, so what do I do when I’m at a loss, I go in the kitchen and bake! I baked a cake for my baby girl. I thought of her through every step of making the cake, hoping she was watching me and learning so she could make one too when she was older. I wondered what type of cake she may like and I decided to invent my own lemon curd cake, which would be Jiya’s cake from now on. All of a sudden, the day felt better. The focus was on Jiya, not me, not my grief, not my thoughts of ‘what if?’
I ate Jiya’s favourite food – Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for breakfast and a thick-cut sliced cheese and tomato sandwich. Believe it or not, these were my only two cravings in pregnancy.
I have to confess I spent a vast portion of the day lying on my picnic blanket staring into the clear blue sky wondering whether the balloon we released yesterday had reached Jiya yet and whether her granddad had read the message out to her and hoping she’s having a good day. I know the balloon isn’t going to travel to Heaven. I know that, I’m not stupid. But I have to admit I get a real feeling of comfort from making up my own stories, wishing my aspirations into the universe and believing that they will come true. So, now that the 30th August draws to a close, I believe my daughter is sat on her granddad’s knee up in Heaven (for some reason she’s older in my vision of her, not a new-born), the balloon has reached them and they are both holding on to it, my dad reads out the message on the card, Jiya asks lots of questions about her mummy and daddy and as they both look down from Heaven, they see me and Sukhie as we hug and cut the cake I made for her. That’s my version of events and that’s the memory I will hang on to from today.