Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Holly's Day

A year ago, I woke up in the spare bedroom (I don't recall why I was in the spare bedroom. Probably because I was too hot. Possibly because I simply like it in there). I thought I ought to check I wasn't pregnant - just in case - although as usual, I had very little idea of where I was in any kind of cycle (in life, or otherwise).

I rummaged around in the back of a drawer, and found an old, spare, pregnancy test (they tend to come in packs, you know, even if you only need one - rendering the others 'spare'). To my surprise, a few seconds later, there were two undeniable lines. Those lines sprang up remarkably quickly. Not like my first pregnancy (which gave me several false negatives, before ultimately - many weeks later - proving to be ectopic, which explained the lack of a definite line).
Not like my pregnancy with Rowan, which was so unexpected (following the ectopic pregnancy, and having lost any hope for an easy conception after surgery) that I didn't even bother to test until he was already fairly well established...
Holly gave me a definite line. Right on cue. A positive line. A strong line. Positive, in more ways than one.

If I am honest, I was not instantly overwhelmed with joy. Holly wasn't "unplanned," but nor was another baby the focus of my future. We left it to chance, and circumstance provided. If truth be told, I hate pregnancy. Even without the ectopic pregnancy (no... not "the ectopic pregnancy"... Ivy. Her name was Ivy), which robbed me of any joy from Rowan's pregnancy, I still hated the experience of carrying him.

I was filled with excitement and anticipation, but that was separate from the feelings associated with actually being pregnant... which honestly, I hated. I felt like I had lost my own identity, giving up my body in order to grow another person... I love my career, and throughout the "obvious" stages of pregnancy with Rowan, my professional life suffered a hiatus, and I despised it, whilst I awaited the arrival of my new life - his new life - our new life...

And of course, at the end of it all, following a ridiculously easy birth (I feel justified in gloating over his easy delivery, given the comparison to Holly's birth), it was absolutely worth every moment. Every second, and then some. I loved being a mother. I loved those newborn days. To my surprise, I loved all the baby days. I loved maternity leave. It was magical. To me, it was magical, and while at times it was trying, I shocked myself by loving every moment. Who knew?


Last year, when those lines appeared, my life would never be the same again (although I hadn't yet anticipated that I would never again be the same person). I wasn't instantly overjoyed, because I knew it would mean a temporary career hiatus. It would mean putting "myself" on hold, while I prepared to be a mother to someone else - an entire, separate person, entering my life. Someone I knew my son would adore. Someone I knew that I would ultimately love beyond anything else. I wasn't instantly overwhelmed with joy, but I accepted this new direction my life would take, because I knew - without a shadow of doubt - that it would ultimately be worth it. I knew that my heart would expand.

Days later, I became overwhelmed with sickness. Sickness that never left me throughout pregnancy. I'd experienced brief nausea with Rowan, but this was different. It was constant, overwhelming, and it sapped almost every ounce of my energy. Nevertheless, I carried on. Professionally, and personally. I knew it would be worth it. I knew she was worth it.

I also knew she was a girl. I knew. (As I did with my first pregnancy, and as I knew that Rowan was a boy). My daughter. I longed for her, she was eagerly awaited, even if it pains me to admit how much I hated carrying her... I knew it would be worth it. 

"Rowan's Day" is the 13th of May. It's the day I found out I was pregnant with him, and we celebrate it every year. I have never missed one, we treat his special day with greater importance than his birthday (due to the fact he was born within a week of Christmas, and it's nice to spread the celebrations out throughout the year). This year, "Rowan's Day" was his best yet. He had a well-attended party, with friends from near and far. It was the kind of party I always coveted (yet never achieved) as a child - and I hope he knows how lucky he is, and remembers in years to come.

"Holly's Day"... the day I found out I was carrying her.

So much has changed within a year. I am not the same person now that I was then. My life changed on that day, forever, although not in the way I thought it would. She came into existence, and she has never left. But part of me died the day that she did.

I never thought I would get hung up on dates. I never thought I would count the days, I am not generally one to dwell on reminders, I'm not overly sentimental. I'm extremely forgetful, and I am "that friend who will almost certainly forget your birthday" because I don't know what day of the week - or even month - it is.

I can't overlook "Holly's Day," and I can't believe that a year... but also a lifetime... has passed. Time has a contradictory quality, following loss. It stands still - it seems like an eternity has elapsed. And yet, somehow, it still keeps turning, and suddenly... who can believe a year has gone? Time slowed down while I was pregnant. It felt like I was awaiting her arrival forever. I wished my pregnancy away, but I never expected it to conclude the way it did - two months early. No, I didn't wish for that, and I carry the guilt of despising being pregnant, because it was the only time I got to spend with her. I can't sugarcoat the way I felt during that eternal pregnancy, but all along, I knew it would be worth it... And then after she arrived - lived, and died - time stopped moving altogether. It often feels like not a day has passed since that day in December. Yet... here we are... a year on since everything changed.

Holly's Day is just another day. Nothing has changed, and that's what hurts - there is nothing to celebrate. It is (to re-use my own phrase) "significantly insignificant." There are reminders of this time last year everywhere. I may not generally be overly sentimental, but reminders are all I have of Holly, and I see them in everything. The sunlight is the same. The house is the same. The hot, restless nights are the same. My life is outwardly the same... But everything... everything is different. And I will never be the same again.


I'm sorry, my love, that I can't buy you toys. I'm sorry you have no need for the pram in the cupboard, or the multicoloured, knitted baby socks I cuddled daily while I was touring - the first gift I bought for you. I'm sorry I cannot give you "Holly's Day" in the same way that your big brother has always been spoilt on his special day. I'm sorry I can't look back and wistfully wonder how a year has passed since that day, because it flew so quickly. That day is an eternity ago. An entire lifetime, because I was not the same person then.

I can promise you, that never a day, never an hour, goes by when I don't think of you. And it never will. I can promise you that "Holly's Day" is special to me, and always will be. I promise that every year, I will honour your day, just as I do for your big brother.

On your birthday, I gave you song. It was the only gift I could grant to you, and it comforts me to know that it was the only thing you heard. On Holly's Day, I give you words. Words that I can share with you, and with anyone who chooses to read them. I wish I could give you more.

Holly Rose, I can never repay the gift that you gave to me. You gave me gratitude. You grew my heart - double the size it was before. I will never, ever forget.

Two lines that changed everything.

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