We’ve got some happy anniversaries coming up this year. My parents will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary next month, while The Grumposaur and I will have been together for two decades (!) in October.
But for the most part, since having Boo, anniversaries have left me in a cold sweat, panicky and a bundle of raw emotions that I can’t sort out. I’ve blogged about many of these days. The anniversary of Boo’s C-section date (10 weeks after he was born) prompted me to write the most read post on this blog to date. The anniversary of his due date (11 weeks after his birthday). The anniversary of the day he came home. A good day. And then much later the anniversary of the onset of his epilepsy. Indeed this whole blog started because I needed to come to terms with an anniversary: his first birthday. It was a lovely day and a very difficult one. A day to celebrate him, but also to come to terms with the challenges he faces and all that will likely never be.
People tell me it gets easier with time. But they also tell me that the bittersweet nature of many premmie anniversaries never quite goes away.
This year I wouldn’t say I’m more prepared for things. Who knows how or what I’ll feel this time around. But as I enter anniversary season this year, I am at least prepared to be unprepared. And I vow to try (because frankly, I am not very good at this) to be kind to myself and let myself off the hook if things get tough. If I need to cry. Or get cross. Or go and sit in a room on my own for 10 minutes.
Last year anniversary season started for me with Mother’s Day. I remembered so vividly that I could taste and smell the same day the year before. It was a day when I had finally started to look properly pregnant but still had months to go before my son’s birth. When we enjoyed a family day trip to Brighton. A day of excitement, of looking forward to a life that wouldn’t look as we’d expected when it eventually came just days (not months) later.
This year the season’s started earlier. Because this time last year I ran a half marathon. For Boo. For the charity Bliss. I know I did it. I have the pictures and medal to prove it. I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours 11 minutes. I still can’t imagine how. Our lives were frankly horrendous back then. I was severely depressed, acutely sleep deprived. Boo’s epilepsy and repeated hospitalisations put a massive dent in training that was vital for me, a non-runner all my life. Heck, I was still breastfeeding.
Boo got me to the end of that run. His determination and mine for him. My gratitude to Bliss kept one foot in front of the other. My gratitude to those who had sponsored me ensured thekept moving. I wept buckets when I crossed the finish line. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
And now I am training for another half marathon in September. And the memories of last year are flooding back. Of how tough things were. I have re-experienced the same dry mouth and damp palms as I ran back to our front door, hoping that my beautiful sleeping Boo (I almost always have to run at night) had not had a seizure while I was out and his Dad was looking after him.
I don’t like feeling that way again. It’s hard. So hard.
But those moments are fleeting. Mostly on my runs now I hear my daughter cheering me on at 10 miles and see my Dad’s tears. I feel good that I did that run in adverse circumstances. That I raised so much money.
And above all, I feel grateful that now is not then. I like to put a positive spin on things on the blog, but I’m always truthful. I would be a liar if I said life was easy. It’s bloody impossible some days. But it’s also very good and so much better than I could have hoped it would be this time last year. OK, Boo’s still not sitting for long, rolling or standing. But the gut wrenching fear is no longer the signature note of our lives. He is well. He is still seizure free. He is happy and thriving according to his own schedule.
Like all of the anniversaries we’ve had since Boo’s birth, this one has brought mixed emotions. But the good far outweighs the bad. I hope this is the way of things to come as we plunge into the season of remembering. If not, well I promise not to beat myself up about it.