The Due Date

Deep breaths. Count your tears. Here comes the due date. The day my world was supposed to change. The day my husband and I transitioned from partners to parents, welcoming a healthy, pink, squirming bundle of hopes and dreams. A baby we would bring home and introduce to our menagerie of animals, trying to figure out if we would need to keep the s cats out of the nursery or the dogs from licking his pristine cheeks. A son we envisioned would love music, innately, like his mama. Our boy. Our first child, first boy. A life we created from nothing but love.

Instead, with heavy, looming heartbeats, December 19th approaches and I am filled with bursting emotions. Resentment that 9 months have passed...a long 9 months, but 4 without Darby. Wistful, sad memory of my belly beginning to swell and weekends sneaking glimpses at childbirth videos on YouTube. Jealousy of new pregnancies and my brain filled with the SHOULDS: I SHOULD be huge right now, swollen fingers and ankles. I SHOULD be putting the finishing touches on the nursery that is now a home to empty boxes and pet supplies. I SHOULD be on maternity leave already, taking my well-deserved break from work.
In the time between Darby's death and this month, I have refused to struggle with the waves of grief so that I am not pulled under with the strong current. I have allowed myself to cry, to deflate and dissolve. I have also knitted my lips together and swallowed the primal wails when I need to get in front of a psychology class and teach. And my grief responded for those few months: I coped, prioritized, moved forward. Until December. December hit and I lost my bearings. 
This time, I AM swept under. I am tossed about like a rag doll, slamming my frail body against jagged rocks and reminders. My son. My son. He hovers in the corner of every room. I know he wants only to wipe my tears. To thank me for housing him safely until he had to move on. To assure me he is safe, cared for, and will know me in Heaven the moment he sees me. To promise me what we all suspected, that his life on earth would consist only of pain and suffering...if he had lived.
Will I commemorate his due date? I'll take it as it comes. Perhaps listen to soft music, light a candle. Or maybe sleep all day. But I will need to rely on the kindness and strength of others. I will have to appeal to their sympathy when it may be just too hard to make purposeful movements. I will write out my sorrow, or maybe contract into a tight fetal ball. But I know, on the other side of this, I will emerge from my grief cocoon, woven so tightly around me. My son died 2 days before my birthday and would have been born on the day before my husband's. Again, in his life and death, he knits us so tightly together.
I ask my loved ones to respect that I'm not overjoyed about the royal pregnancy right now. To tolerate my quivering chin. To understand that the holidays will not be joyful for me, even surrounded by the radiating love of the season. To embrace me as much as possible and remind me that even though my son could not, and would not, I WILL survive.
About the Author
Dr. Erica G. Hyatt is currently an assistant professor of psychology at a small college north of Philadelphia. She completed her doctoral degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania and has experience working as a clinician, administrator, and researcher. Dr. Hyatt has always been fascinated with the area of end of life care, death and dying, and bereavement. She became, unfortunately, all too familiar with grief when her first child was diagnosed with a rare and deadly congenital birth defect at 5 months’ gestation. She lives with her husband and their 3 dogs, 2 cats, rats, finches, and fish.
Helping The Bereaved