26. New Year’s Day

August’s due date was five years ago today — January 1, 2010. A woman in my writers’ group was pregnant at the same time, due Jan. 2. We used to joke about who would “win” — whose baby would come first. She won; her baby arrived by C-section sometime around his due date. August took till the 12th to arrive, and of course then I lost all over again.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now. I’m grateful they’re open on New Year’s Day. I got up with the kids at 7:15 this morning. Not terribly early, but I’ve been “on” ever since — breakfast, peeing on the potty, playing with Christmas toys, hugging them when they fell, nursing them when they asked for it, cleaning up their messes, making more food since they didn’t eat their breakfast, and on and on and on. As an introvert, I find taking care of kids sort of challenging on the level of energy output; at some point, I need to separate so I can restore myself again. Hence, skipping out to the coffee shop.

In moments when things are especially tough or frustrating with the kids, my husband and I sometimes joke that we’re living the dream. It’s funny because it’s true — we wanted to have living children, we hoped and tried so hard to have them after August died, and it worked! We have two healthy, hilarious, unusual, wonderful, living kids. But it’s also so hard! I feel silly complaining about it, since it’s what I wanted most in the world, but being a parent is just so unrelenting! You hardly get a break. (I think mamas, and maybe nursing mamas in particular, get even less of a break than other parents, since we don’t even get to use the bathroom in peace, for years on end.)

My point is just that we have what we wanted: We have Pearl and Zephyr. But we don’t have August, and there aren’t that many ways to connect with him that feel real to me. Last night I lit a candle for him at midnight, and slipped a little note to him into his Christmas stocking, since I neglected to do it on Christmas Day, as I normally do. They’re just short little notes. “I miss you more than ever. I love you always. Love, Mama.”

Now I’m sitting in the coffee shop, decompressing from being “on” all morning, taking care of August’s siblings. There are a few other people here. A mom and her young toddler, younger than Zeph. Some middle-aged folks at a nearby table playing peekaboo with the toddler and grinning at her mama. At one point, the woman told the young mom, “Our baby is twenty-two years old.” Everyone smiled. I smiled too, thinking about how I already do that — I already sigh over other women’s babies who are younger than my own. A stage of life already gone by for our little family.

Then I started to cry, thinking of August. My first baby. I miss you more than ever, little son. I love you always. Happy New Year.

Love, Mama.