My birthday is coming up this weekend. The big 3-1. Nothing special, really. Last year was a bigger one, and even that wasn’t a huge deal. It was important because of the girls. It was important because I was starting a new decade of my life while also ushering in this huge change with these two new lives in our family.
And then, the unthinkable happened. Not two weeks into my 30s, my world broke, my heart broke, I broke. I found out that I was going to lose one of the three most important people in my life.
This year, as all of these milestones have happened with Olivia, and now as these anniversaries of loss approach, I get more and more anxious. I can feel the tension taking over my body. I constantly feel overwhelmed, and I can’t quite put my finger on what is overwhelming me.
Everything and nothing.
Life and her death.
Breathing in and breathing out.
At my therapy session a couple of days ago, my therapist mentioned that I’m feeling retraumatized, and she’s right. Between the anniversaries, the legislation that Texas is slamming through, telling our story through various news outlets to help battle the legislation, and a general feeling that people feel we should have “moved on” already, I do feel retraumatized. It’s suffocating. So I apologize that I’ve stepped away for a while.
Family has been asking me for weeks now what I want for my birthday. It’s usually such an easy question to answer. I have things in my Amazon or Etsy cart ready to go, I have things on a wishlist that I’ve been putting off buying for myself. This year, though? The things I want aren’t things people can give me.
That feeling of unbridled joy at being a mom that I had this time last year.
A time where I don’t know this kind of deep grief that will last a lifetime.
My other daughter back and totally healthy, playing with her sister.
We’re planning a memorial for Cate to take place on the anniversary of her diagnosis. I’m hoping this will help me cope with that day and the days that will follow. We never had a memorial for her because I felt like I had to keep my head up. After all, I still had Olivia, as people kept reminding me. I should be happy and thankful that she was okay. As if I wasn’t. It’s time to finally give Cate the memorial she deserves.
We’re gathering with the friends and family who have supported us through our infertility, pregnancy, and loss. And now in telling our truth because not everyone can support our truth.
If anyone wants to know what to give me for my birthday, give to the cause. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is a great organization that fights for women’s reproductive rights in Texas, so please consider donating to them in Cate’s name. Texas is now passing legislation that has caused the doctor that ended Cate’s suffering and saved Olivia to stop performing these procedures. He doesn’t perform abortions now, except perhaps to save the mother, I’m not sure. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m disgusted. I’m disheartened. But I won’t give up the fight because I’m not the only one. I’m not the only mother who has had to make this choice for her baby or even for her twins.
You could also give me wine and bath bombs because I really need some relaxing “me” time in a bubble bath with a good book.