Sometimes dates mean a lot to me. I love to take note of anniversaries of special events, whether happy or sad. Thanks to day planners, digital photography, and even Facebook with its ‘On this Day’ memories feature, this has been made ever easier! Often these special dates can get me feeling emotional or sentimental, and usually very pensive. I may just casually mention to someone that a certain date is a little anniversary of some sort, but inside, it churns and churns until I can connect with it in a bigger way that satisfies me in all my existential needs.
Well, everyone. We all have those anniversaries. Once upon a time, our stories were just beginning. For each and every one of us there was a day, one just as important as our birthdays, when we first got started. It was a day when Mom and Dad spent some time together. That would be our conception date! Ah, that magical three-month age. A year is 12 months: you spend approximately 9 months pregnant, have your baby, then three months later, oh my, a year has passed since you became pregnant! It’s magic! A fairy tale! How many Mamas out there know, or have an idea, of when their little one was conceived? I know I do. My daughter’s most likely conception date anniversary was a few days ago, at least the date that directly led to her conception. Hence this entry. I know many of the dates, events, and feelings that led up to and surrounded it.
Last year, my first pregnancy anniversary was extremely emotional. This year, I’m writing this with my seemingly huge 31.5 inch tall, nearly 25 pound, 15 month old sprawled out sleeping on my lap. I am a mother. I’m used to it and I am used to her. The memories of desperately wanting to be pregnant, of surprise at becoming pregnant, are just slightly less consuming. Yet I have still taken note of so many of them, in different ways than I did last year. Mother’s Day this year fell on the first day of my last period 2 years ago. Bingo, instant reason to mentally commemorate that bizarre date that they use to determine the start, and thus the end, of your pregnancy. Last year I took my daughter to visit my paternal grandparents’ grave to honor that day. Mother’s Day two years ago was one of a series of events that led to me feeling that the conception that took place just over a couple weeks later was a kind of grand culmination, a happy ending. I took note of the day a college acquaintance shared an article giving hope to women waiting to be mothers. I took note of conversations I had had with friends in those few weeks, serious or silly, medical or crass, about the prospect of trying to become pregnant. I know what days they happened and I can picture where we were sitting or standing or walking. I thought of meaningful conversations and interactions with family, or even strangers, that had made me feel something during that time. I thought sipping leftover homemade sangria I made for Mother’s Day did the trick. I thought meditating like crazy did the trick. I shared a recent story about the significance of a particular meditation class on my personal facebook page. (Last month I took my daughter into the room where I took a meditation class a couple days before I got pregnant. It was an old mansion with an ornate fireplace flanked by female figures in togas. She put her hand on the statue’s belly and said ‘Mama.’ I lost my breath. She has a sense.) I believed forgiving myself for my mistakes was the key. I thought eating some more snacks maybe kicked my ovaries into gear. I thought that feeling like my heart was open to life was something I could pinpoint in retrospect; I was striving to embrace the past, the present, and the future, and welcome them all to join me, shape me, and allow me to simply be. I felt gratitude fill me. It had been a long time coming, something I had been working on for a while. I needed to forgive myself for a number of things: a car accident, losing photo data and files, personal relationships. I had just gotten to a point where I could say I forgave myself. I could say I not only overcame my stressors, but learned to live through them, and look forward to the future and adventures to come knowing that I was, in some ways, powerless to change, but not hopeless. I still felt the extreme discomfort I sometimes feel in myself, but paired with renewed strength. I remember outings I went on, parties I attended, the freedom I was trying to attain. I can feel it now. I’m so thankful I can still feel it and relive it. I don’t know if it is natural for us to feel like attitudes and actions and breaths of release and heartbeats of gratitude enrich us for this, for any type of motherhood or caretaking. I believe in science, but I also believe in feelings; for me, their strength forces me to listen to them.
Maybe the day my daughter was conceived wasn’t anything special. It was a weekday. I went to work. I went to the store. I went to an exercise class. Who knows what other mundane things I did or didn’t do. But, before that day, things were different. As a result of that day, unbeknownst to me at the time, an entirely new combination of DNA would now exist. My X would join with another X and the makeup of another completely distinctive human being would quickly start to form. There was a new genetic code virtually identical to every other person ever to live but still unique enough to never have existed before. That little doll face that I look at a billion times a day was coded and destined to look just how it looks now. It’s unbelievable. It’s unreal. It is a beautiful story able to be retold as long as time. How could you not feel like it’s a special date? It was the start of a huge process of physical and emotional changes. To think, two whole years ago I was pregnant; it doesn’t seem so far in the past. Also, realizing all the things you did before you knew you were pregnant is another interesting topic to cover! Thinking of what happened in my body two years ago just makes me think what chance luck I had. It happened the way it did and it has worked out so perfectly in so many ways. I just can never think of my body the same way again. I was riding that cusp between never having been pregnant to becoming a vessel for the growth of another person. But I didn’t know. There was a miracle that occurred that we were so unaware of. A miracle for us, a gift. A chance occurrence that made absolutely all the difference for her! What chance. Incredible. She would not be otherwise. It was something so completely ordinary that has happened as long as history. But it’s beautiful how it happens. There is so much love and every other emotion that can go into it. It’s amazing to think of being pregnant two years ago, since at times pregnancy feels like something so far off. It’s nice to be reminded how recent it was and how much I still recall and feel connected to it, and how I have adjusted to having my baby here. I recorded a video for my daughter last year around this time to explain some of this to her: what she means to me, how much I loved being pregnant with her, my hopes for her, and those feeling I tried to instill. I don’t think I said everything I needed to, but I am so glad I got some of those emotions out so soon after her birth. It was another way to celebrate and acknowledge the anniversary.
Last year I also realized it happens to be the birthday of my favorite female singer. The strength and power of the day coupled with how completely ordinary it is, has been undeniable; I try to allow days like that to push me. They force a kind of willingness to find my own meaning in the random, sometimes forgettable details of life. This year, a celebrity death that very much affected me connected as well; his funeral was on that date. I think it added to the extreme emotions, and to the feeling of heaviness of memories. Loss and gain go hand in hand. I felt a lot on that day. This year, my in-laws were visiting from across the country, and we were traveling to a family wedding. There were a lot of emotions in every direction. I planned a big day out the day before. We did a couple things that reminded me of the time I was newly pregnant — going into the city, getting ice cream. Mainly, being active and finding happiness and peace in the midst of a stressful time. Finding the continued flow in life. I’m still remembering that time and what I was doing — events, feelings, people — and remaining in awe of life. Valuing that treasure called life can save me and allow me to pass on wisdom to my daughter and her generation of how precious life truly is, and why something like a pregnancy anniversary is something to hold in your heart forever. I’m glad we kept track of it, even if it might seem a little weird. There’s more to acknowledge than meets the eye, and there is always something more to come.